One of Dr. Catherine Price’s first objectives as new department chair of Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Management at The University of Southern Mississippi was to form an advisory board.
That goal became a reality when the inaugural meeting of the CHTM Advisory Board took place last July 14 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg, Miss.
“We have not had an advisory board such as this for years,” said Price. “I just thought it was time to get more industry involvement in the initiatives we’re working on in our department. I think it’s very important in academia to form partnerships with industry groups that hire your students.”
The new board includes members of the faculty and staff at Southern Miss as well as the following members of the business and industry communities: Shawn Donahue and Chris Morath with the Hattiesburg Olive Garden restaurant; Rick Taylor, executive director of visitHattiesburg (formerly known as the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission) and Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
Keith Schmitt, vice president of human resources for PCH Hotels & Resorts of Alabama, serves as the board’s chairman.
An important part of the first meeting involved discussion of the history of the CHTM major at Southern Miss, future directions and an overview of the academic structures that guide the faculty, curriculum and administrative operations of an academic program.
Five current and former students were invited to share their thoughts about this major, particularly their perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses and the areas of greatest value once in the workforce.
“We very much wanted to hear what the students had to say about the program,” said Price. “Their input is very important to our mission. We don’t want them to ever feel like they’re just another number.”
Under Price’s leadership, the CHTM department has identified seven initiatives designed to enhance the curriculum and strengthen partnerships with business and industry. Perhaps, the most significant of these is the push to develop graduate and undergraduate certificate programs.
CHTM instructor Evelyn Green has been instrumental in devising an online graduate certificate program in casino management that should be ready for fall enrollment 2010. A certificate advisory council comprised of high-level industry professionals is assisting and collaborating with the CHTM faculty in designing the course content for the graduate online degree program.
Price also wanted the board to weigh in on a proposal to re-activate the BS Hospitality Management curriculum with a stronger emphasis on language, culture, service and international tourism issues as an alternative to the current BSBA which focuses on more traditional inventory based business functions.
The board voted unanimously to support the plan.
“We are now in the process of revising that curriculum and should have it ready by the spring,” said Price.
The advisory board is scheduled to meet again sometime in October. For more information about the advisory board and the CHTM department, call 601.266.6762.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.