Lipscomb University officials announced today the launch of a unique hospitality studies program to meet workforce needs in the growing tourism and hospitality industries in Nashville and nationwide.
Nashville’s tourism and hospitality industry generates close to $6 billion annually in the Middle Tennessee region with more than seven years of record-breaking growth. It employs 103,400 in the Nashville area and attracts 14.8 million visitors a year. It is the second-largest industry in Nashville with projections for it to continue to be a leading industry.
“With Lipscomb’s location in Nashville, which is one of the nation’s top tourist and convention destinations, the new hospitality program is a natural fit as we seek to prepare our students to fill the workforce needs of the future,” said L. Randolph Lowry, Lipscomb University president. “Using the city as our campus, our students will have an abundance of opportunities for hands-on learning experiences in the community and through classes offered at Lipscomb’s downtown Spark facility, which is located in the heart of Nashville’s entertainment, tourism and hospitality district.”
In the last few years, Nashville has received much national and international attention as a destination city. Cvent recently ranked Nashville as the No. 7 Meeting Destination in the United States, and Music City has been listed as a top global destination by major travel publications for six straight years. Just last month, the metropolitan Nashville area was ranked the #4 vibrant arts community in the country in a Southern Methodist University National Center for Arts Research study.
Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., said Lipscomb’s new program is much-needed in the region.
“This program could not come at a better time for our industry,” said Spyridon. “We look forward to working with Lipscomb to help create the best program possible. This announcement is a win for Lipscomb and a win for Nashville’s hospitality industry.”
Ralph Schulz, president of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, agrees.
“The tourism and hospitality industry has a $5.7 billion economic impact on our region,” said Schulz. “As music and entertainment continue to spread the Nashville ‘brand,’ we’ll continue to build on our reputation as a must-see destination. Programs like Lipscomb’s will help provide the stimulus we need for creating the workforce to fill the jobs in such an important industry.”
Lipscomb’s program is one of the few in the country to offer a multidisciplinary approach to hospitality education. Through a collaboration of its George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts, College of Business, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, Lipscomb’s program is strategically designed as an integrated curriculum that will provide students a foundation in business practices such as management, marketing and leadership; an in-depth study of entertainment disciplines, industries and production; food and beverage; and event planning to give students a holistic approach to hospitality studies. The program will offer undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional certificates and will have four areas of emphasis: lodging, food and beverage, tourism and entertainment.
The program is designed to prepare students for a variety of career paths in the growing hospitality industry. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, significant growth and demand are anticipated in the areas of meeting, convention and event planning; lodging management; and entertainment and production management to name a few. Lipscomb’s hospitality program also prepares students for careers in theme park management, restaurant management, catering management, travel management, hotel management, tourism and production planning among others.
In addition to learning opportunities in Nashville, Lipscomb also has a variety of learning-labs on campus. An on-campus hotel that at its peak capacity offers 82 rooms, technical services department, active events management office and busy food service and catering organization all offer students multiple experiential opportunities on campus that bring to life what they are learning in the classroom.
Mike Fernandez, dean of the George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts, said blending key academic programs into this new initiative prepares students to be innovators and entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry.
“Blending entertainment and business education is a unique combination, but is one that has tremendous potential impact,” he said. “The entertainment industry has played a big role in shaping how we think of hospitality. For example, look at the impact Disney and cruise lines have had on the standard of quality and service that many of us expect for lodging or a vacation experience. In fact, many industry insiders will say that hospitality is an entertainment industry. Lipscomb’s program is strategically blending these disciplines together to train our graduates to be critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers and innovators who will continue to raise the standard of service in the industry.”
In addition, Fernandez said the new program fits with the mission of Lipscomb University.
“The way we think about hospitality is rooted in our faith tradition. Few of God’s commands to us are as clear as the call to care for strangers and neighbors alike,” said Fernandez. “That makes the launch of this new program a natural part of who we are as an institution and how we want to serve the community. Hospitality is the sum of all the ways we love our neighbors with the best of the gifts we’ve been given. This is the right time and Lipscomb is the right place to launch this initiative. I’m looking forward to seeing the integration of our faith and our practice of loving and caring for our neighbor woven into this program. It is a powerful combination.”
The program is pending SACSCOC and institutional program and curriculum approvals. An advisory board comprised hospitality industry leaders from across the country will assist Fernandez and other university officials in developing the curriculum and earning lab experiences among other components of the program. Classes are scheduled to begin in fall 2019.
Lipscomb’s hospitality program is the latest initiative in the university’s growing entertainment and arts presence in Nashville. Earlier this year, the university broke ground on an $11 million event center that features a state-of-the-art event hall, collaborative classroom and studio space; a cinematic editing and viewing studio and houses the George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts administrative offices. Last year, former owner of the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets George Shinn invested $15 million in the college to support its programs and initiatives. In May 2017, Lipscomb University was given the historic Sound Emporium, one of Nashville’s vibrant recording studios for nearly 50 years, to provide valuable experiences and resources for students in the School of Music.