FSU’s College of Business launched a major in hospitality and tourism management in early December 2018, offering the first two required classes this spring 2019 semester.
The major was approved by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education in December. Framingham State is currently the only state university in Massachusetts to offer this major, according to Sue Dargan, interim dean of business.
According to a Dec. 12 University press release, the University intended “to create a major in hospitality and tourism management ever since it acquired the Warren Conference Center and Inn in Ashland in 2016.”
FSU hired John Palabiyik as the major’s program coordinator in September 2018. Palabiyik also will teach many of the required courses for the major, including two offered this semester – “Introduction to Hospitality and Tourism Management” and “Economics of Hospitality.”
Both Dargan and Palabiyik said the classes are well-enrolled and “popular” – approximately 14 to 18 students per class. Last semester, the first time Palabiyik taught the introduction course, 27 students were enrolled.
Dargan said, “There’s been a lot of buzz around it. Students were signing up for the courses even when we didn’t have the major yet.”
Dargan added the possibility of students who are in the “Economics of Hospitality” class declaring a hospitality major is high because of demonstrated interest.
According to the four-year program completion plan for the major, other required courses include “Food and Beverage Management” and “Hotel and Lodging Management.”
Palabiyik said the major is well-rounded in terms of its requirements, and classes are structured according to the changing needs of local businesses.
“Whoever is graduating from here, they will have the management skills,” he said. “They will have done accounting classes, finance classes, marketing classes – general business classes.”
He added, “I am always looking at the needs of the area – right now, it’s event management, revenue management. Something kind of new for Massachusetts is casino management [and] cruise management. … If there are needs from the business, we will add it to the curriculum.”
Palabiyik said the major is unique because there are many “hands-on opportunities,” such as field trips to hotels and the Warren Center. An internship is also required for graduation, which must be taken in the first year, as opposed to other majors.
Dargan said she hopes student enrollment will increase as a result of the acquisition of the Warren Center in conjunction with the uniqueness of the major. The University is also reaching out to local community colleges to garner interest in the new major.
FSU offers a bachelor’s degree program in addition to a certificate program for which prospective students will be able to take evening classes – providing the opportunity for those already in the industry to come back to school.
Dargan added there is also a minor in hospitality for interested students who are already committed to another major.
President F. Javier Cevallos said in the press release, “We are very excited to be able to offer this new in-demand major to our students.”
He added, “The job prospects in the hospitality industry are very strong in this region.”
Freshman Shorn Hawthorne, who took Palabiyik’s introduction course, said he is planning to major in hospitality.
Hawthorne said, “Hospitality wasn’t my first option, [but] it was my best decision!”