PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State University Board of Regents voted Friday in Vancouver to designate the institution’s 70-year-old Hotel and Restaurant Administration program as the School of Hospitality Business Management.
“The new ‘school’ title plus the name change reflect a more contemporary identity for this well-established, internationally-renowned field of study in the College of Business and Economics,” said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins, who supported the initiative. “I am confident that the hospitality industry will respond even more positively to the program now, and the ultimate benefactors of this change will be our hospitality students.”
“We are thrilled with the regents’ decision,” said W. Terry Umbreit, the school director who has led the program since 1979. “Many hospitality education programs in universities have long been titled as schools or even colleges. School status will help us develop stronger relationships with industry and to continue to build a world-class program for our students.”
Bill Baldwin, chairman of the HRA Advisory Board, said the name and title changes for the program could result in more job placement opportunities for graduates, more internships and scholarships for students, increased ability to attract and retain top students, and more opportunities to sponsor professors’ research into relevant hospitality topics.
“President Rawlins and the regents understand the value that school status will bring to WSU,” said Baldwin, president and CEO of Baldwin Resource Group Inc. of Bellevue. “The hospitality industry is one of the largest in the world and WSU’s hospitality program—and now school—produces the students who manage and lead that industry. School status will only enhance our ability to continue our leadership in this arena.”
The WSU hospitality program is the fifth oldest in the United States and has earned an outstanding reputation for its leadership and program innovation. Members of its faculty are among the most cited researchers in the field and several students have won top national awards for their scholarship and service. It is the only American program to offer its own degree in hospitality in Europe, through a sister program in Brig, Switzerland.
Students of hospitality business management must complete 1,000 internship hours to graduate, and the average student receives about five job offers when his/her studies are complete. The WSU HRA program is the only one of its kind in the Northwest.