BEND, Ore. - Oregon State University-Cascades said Tuesday it plans to launch a four-year hospitality degree program that was once offered on the main OSU campus, after receiving gifts totaling $320,000 from the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association and hospitality-related businesses across the state.
The new degree program could launch as early as September 2013, pending approval by the Oregon University System.
Budget cuts in the early 1990s forced OSU to discontinue the popular program, which resulted in the hospitality industry losing access to skilled graduates and interns, OSU-Cascades officials say. The new program will begin to restore that.
"We're grateful for ORLA's leadership and vision in helping us recreate a hospitality management degree at OSU-Cascades in a region that supports many hospitality-related businesses," said OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson.
"The generous support of the association and hospitality businesses will allow us to attract students and faculty, and provide talented interns and graduates for the lodging and restaurant industry in the state and region, ultimately increasing its significant contribution to Oregon's economy," she added.
The funds raised by the hospitality industry will allow OSU-Cascades to hire a professor to develop and lead the new degree program in keeping with the standards for national accreditation and recognition.
The funding will also contribute toward the program's operation for three years following the launch, after which the program will self-sustain through student tuition.
"The hospitality industry is Oregon's second largest private employer," said Steve McCoid, president and CEO of ORLA. "We see a degree program focused on the skills needed to lead in a hospitality environment as an investment in the future of the hospitality industry."
Companies, organizations and individuals from Central Oregon, as well as the Willamette Valley and the rest of the state, donated to the initiative, Johnson said.
Leading Central Oregon hospitality businesses and representatives provided gifts, including Bennington Properties, Black Butte Ranch, Tom and Stacy Leursen, Navis, Inc., Sunriver Resort and the The Oxford Hotel Group & Baney Family, whose $50,000 gift capped the fundraising effort. ORLA provided the largest gift, at $75,000.
The lodging and restaurant establishments and individuals who contributed to the new degree program are:
Black Butte Ranch
Bon Appétit Management Company
The Dussin Group
Food Services of America
Frederick D and Gail Y Jubitz Foundation
Liberty Northwest Insurance Corporation
Tom and Stacy Luersen
ORLA Education Foundation
The Oxford Hotel Group & Baney Family
Shari's Management Corporation
OSU-Cascades currently offers a hospitality management option within its business degree. The campus has also offered executive education courses for hospitality professionals through a collaboration with Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration.