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Welcome! This is not your ordinary hospitality school.

An amateur woodworker, a former rugby champion, and a former accountant--hardly what one would expect to find at a hotel and restaurant management school.

But these three unique faculty members along with an academic program coordinator head up the University of South Florida School of Hotel and Restaurant Management (SHRM) on the Sarasota-Manatee regional campus. It has the distinction of being the first school on a regional campus in the 50-year history of USF.

"This partnership between the university and the community illustrates how a regional university is working to meet local industry needs," says USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus CEO Dr. Laurey T. Stryker.

The first classes held in 2003 had 12 students. This past Fall 2005, more than 160 students enrolled.

The 38-member roster for the SHRM Advisory Board reads like a "Who's Who in Hotel and Restaurant Management." When Dr. Jay Schrock interviewed for the position of director in 2002, he was impressed and knew he wanted to be a part of this exciting new undertaking.

"I could not ask for a stronger advisory board," says Schrock. "It is made up of some of the most influential hospitality leaders in the state and nation including past presidents of the Florida Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association, the general manager of The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, the owner of a James Beard award restaurant and a former Dean of the Cornell Hotel School."

Schrock developed similar hospitality programs at two universities-San Francisco State University and Texas Tech University. He has more than 30 years of higher education and industry experience. His first order of business as the SHRM founding director was to hire faculty.

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Enter the former rugby champion.

Dr. John Walker has more than 22 years of experience as a teacher, author and consultant in the hospitality industry, and Schrock brought him on board as the school's first full-time professor. A former dean and Marshall Professor of the School of Hospitality Management at United States International University in San Diego, his career includes management training at the Savoy Hotel London, as well as managerial positions in food and beverage, catering and general management at various prestigious international hotels. He has authored or co-authored numerous hospitality and tourism textbooks, and spoken at seminars around the world.

While Walker was busy settling in, USF Sarasota-Manatee's Director of Campus Advancement Alexis Upham connected with hospitality legend John McKibbon, III-the CEO and chairman of Tampa-based McKibbon Hotel Management. McKibbon's gift through his fund with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay Inc., combined with the State of Florida Matching Grant, established a $500,000 endowed professorship for the SHRM-the first in USF Sarasota-Manatee's 30-year history.

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The SHRM offers a bachelor's degree in hospitality management, an Associate of Arts to Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in hospitality, and two professional certificate programs in hotel management and restaurant management. There is also an exchange program with a culinary school in Florence, Italy.

In a rapidly changing industry, the USF SHRM's primary objective is to make sure students have a well-balanced education and skills to become leaders in the hospitality industry. The 60-hour, two-year degree completion programs cater to students in their junior or senior year of college, and include a 1,000-hour work experience requirement.

When the new campus opens in Fall 2006, the SHRM will have a new home with training facilities, and room to grow.

By SANDRA HICE, Freelance Writer

RELATED ARTICLE: Industry icon to speak in Sarasota

On March 7, the USF will welcome the founder of "The Ritz Carlton Concepts" to Sarasota. Horst Schulze, who is currently the President/CEO of the West Paces Hotel Group, will be presenting a public lecture entitled "How to Provide Exceptional Customer Service."

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It's the inaugural event of The Linda Novey-White Memorial Lecture Series, in honor of the late hospitality industry icon and School of Hotel and Restaurant Management Advisory Board member. Schulze is one of the most influential hoteliers of the last 30 years. The event will start at 4 pm on March 7 at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Sarasota. Lecture tickets are free but reservations are required. For reservations or more information, call 941-359-4602.
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Author:Hice, Sandra
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:697
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