A new major area of study approved by the West Virginia University Board of Governors on Dec. 20 has paved the way for the College of Business and Economics to provide a curriculum directly related to the state’s second-largest industry.

The Hospitality & Tourism Management major will be offered to students in the Fall 2014 semester. The curriculum was previously offered at B&E as an “area of emphasis,” with a core of four specific courses. The WVU Faculty Senate approved the proposed major in the fall of 2013, with the next step being review and approval by the Board of Governors.

“The College of Business and Economics has built this program from the ground up,” said Jose ‘Zito’ Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean at B&E. “The driving force in building the Hospitality & Tourism Management curriculum has been its importance in West Virginia and to the West Virginia economy.”

The College put together core courses for the program, prompting its approval two years ago as an area of emphasis. After assembling a Hospitality & Tourism Management Advisory Board comprised of industry leaders, building momentum in student enrollment in the curriculum and placing students in hospitality and tourism-related internship opportunities, the proposal went to the WVU Faculty Senate and was approved.

“There is a process involved in the creation of a major area of academics, and B&E has been diligent in its commitment to see this new major become a reality,” Sartarelli said. “Hospitality and tourism is a major component of our state’s economy, and we believe this curriculum will provide industry management opportunities for program graduates throughout West Virginia and around the world.”

“We also have funding in place for the program. We have donor support from B&E alumni Doug Van Scoy and Michael Bodnar, as well as funding for another faculty member in addition to the faculty already in place for the program in the Department of Management,” said Sartarelli.

B&E has already placed students in internships such as Taziki’s Mediterranean Café and the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pa., Hilton Worldwide (which oversees Hilton, Hampton Inn and eight other hotel brands) and at the corporate headquarters of IHG in Atlanta (which oversees InterContinental, Holiday Inn and nine other hotel brands).

Betty Carver, Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Tourism, said the new major at WVU would be a significant addition to a state travel industry that was most recently calculated to have a $5.1 billion economic impact on the state.

“Graduates of this program are going to fill management positions in hospitality and tourism,” Carver said, “and that’s important because it will provide opportunities for our college graduates to work in the state in this ever-growing industry. This is business, and to have people trained in business is vital as we see more and more national and international hospitality and tourism activity in West Virginia. We can plan on a steady stream of high-caliber people who will only add to this sector in our state.”

A 2012 economic impact study showed that travel generated $707 million in state and local tax revenues, and employment of 46,400 people.

Dr. Karen Donovan, B&E Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, said the pieces are in place for the successful start of the new major.

“The faculty are in place and the curriculum is in place,” said Donovan. “Additionally, our undergraduate advising unit has been deeply involved in the development of the major, so we are ready to go. We are excited to kick off the major in the fall semester of 2014.”

For further information on the College of Business and Economics, please visit be.wvu.edu.

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