by Ward Mullens, Published June 13, 2011
YPSILANTI - Take the only accredited hotel and restaurant management program in the state, add in a very diverse curriculum and top it off with 100 percent job placement after graduation and you have an Eastern Michigan University recipe for success.
"We are the only accredited program in the entire state," said Susan Gregory, director of EMU's Hotel and Restaurant Management Program. "The accreditation is important because they look at student satisfaction, faculty and if the program is really doing what we say it does."
The program has been accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration since 2007.
Currently, Gregory said there are about 175 undergraduate students and 12 graduate students in the program.
Gregory said the program continues to grow.
"Culinary schools have grown so much because of all of the food programs on television," Gregory said.
While EMU does not have a culinary program, it does have articulation agreements with culinary schools in the area, such as Washtenaw Community College, Schoolcraft and Henry Ford.
"It's a great partnership (with all of the schools)," said Gregory. "They get the vocational skills through our partners and then come to EMU to get management skills. They do 2 ½ years at the community college and then take 1 ½ years here and get a bachelor's degree."
EMU's partnerships do not end there. Another advantage of the program is the relationships that Gregory has cultivated in the community.
Those community partnerships include Movable Feast, Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels and Mainstreet Ventures, a company that owns several restaurants in Ann Arbor.
"They (Mainstreet Ventures) have a program that pays student tuition if you go into hotel management," said Gregory. "It's all based on the student's grades. If they make an 'A' then they pay 100 percent, a 'B' is worth 80 percent of the tuition, etc....."
"We help the students who may need some financial assistance and we get some great people who help us move forward," said Kevin Gudejko, director of operations for Mainstreet Ventures, which manages 15 restaurants in five states, including Ann Arbor's Real Seafood Company and Carson's American Bistro.
Gudejko said that several current Mainstreet employees are graduates of the EMU program and there also are current students working for them as well.
Robert Campbell, a graduate of the program who now owns his own business, said the hotel and restaurant management program helped prepare him.
"What makes the program unique is the faculty and that the students really stay together," said Campbell, who owns Jamaican Jerk Pit in Ann Arbor and also is a unit manager for EMU food services.
"The faculty do whatever it takes to help the students succeed and to give them opportunities. They always want us to move forward," Campbell said. "It's a very hands on approach."
That experience has paid off for Campbell. He has worked in the hospitality field as a manager during the Olympic Games in Greece, Italy, China and Salt Lake City.
Gregory said the hospitality industry continues to change and evolve.
"There are lots of opportunities for hotel and restaurant management, but there are also needs for people to do social marketing and technology specific to the hospitality industry," said Gregory.
Some of the required courses in the hotel and restaurant management program include: writing for and about technology, cost controls, legal aspects of the hospitality industry, meetings and event management and human resources in hospitality management.
Specialized areas include: gaming and casino management, quality service management, international hospitality, club and resort management, and hospitality technology.
"The great part of our program is that you can find a niche that fits your lifestyle," Gregory said.