Bryant & Stratton adds hospitality program

Bryant & Stratton College has established a hospitality management degree program at its downtown Milwaukee campus to help develop a workforce that can serve the business needs of Milwaukee’s hotels, restaurants, conventions and tourism market.

“We provide the business operations skills and behaviors necessary to ensure the success of whomever (students are) working for,” said Pete Pavone, Wisconsin state director for Bryant & Stratton College.

The degree program, which began last fall with a small cohort of eight students and has expanded this term with a total of 26 students, focuses on restaurant management, hotel management, event planning, casino management and resort management. Students will learn principles behind facility maintenance, food and beverage operations, personnel practices, cost procedures, profitability, guest relations and employee productivity.

The program integrates accounting, marketing, personnel management and general management, according to Pavone.

Students enrolled in the 60-credit program will graduate with an associate of applied science degree in hospitality management. Those who take classes full time could potentially graduate in less than two years.

Bryant & Stratton College launched the degree in large part to support the growth of Milwaukee’s hospitality and tourism markets, Pavone said.

In 2010, Milwaukee hosted 162 conventions that drew about 315,000 attendees and raked in $112 million, according to statistics cited by Pavone. Milwaukee tourism revenues in 2010 reached $1.64 billion, and jobs within Milwaukee’s tourism industry climbed 7.46 percent from 2009 to 2010.

“Clearly the industry is employing a lot more people, and it suggests that you’re going to need to manage the people and the processes,” Pavone said.

While students within the program will be exposed to a variety of hospitality career fields, they will be able to tailor their program experience to their specific career interests such as event planning or restaurant management. Career applications exist throughout the entire program so that students can focus their studies on the career they plan to pursue.

In order to graduate, all students will have to complete at least one internship, a requirement of all Bryant & Stratton degree programs. The college is in the process of developing relationships with area businesses that will be able to mentor students, provide internship opportunities and potentially offer employment opportunities.

“My job here locally is to ensure the outcomes in the program are peppered with the kinds of experiences that will make our students sought after upon graduation,” Pavone said.

“That’s why it’s important to have that linkage with the industry professionals,” he said.

The hospitality management degree program follows the curriculum structured by the college’s headquarters in New York. Bryant & Stratton College serves students online and at 18 locations in New York, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Courses within the Milwaukee program were also shaped with the expertise of industry professionals, according to Pavone.

He hopes to gain a reputation as Milwaukee’s go-to college for equipping students with the skills needed to jump into entry-level hospitality management positions.

“We want to take it slow and steady,” Pavone said. “I really believe that as our reputation grows, this will be a sought-after program.”

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