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‘Management Laboratory’ Opens

After more than four years of planning, fundraising and construction, the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM) moved out of Columbine Hall and into its new building in December.

Located just south of Driscoll Student Center, the $18 million hospitality facility, funded almost entirely by private donations, is providing students with a cutting-edge learning environment. It also serves as a conference center and community event venue.

The 46,000-square-foot, three-story building accommodates up to 360 students and features a full-production kitchen, a “beverage management center” fashioned after a Tuscan wine cellar, a 126-person dining hall with adjacent patio, amphitheatre-style executive education rooms with distance-learning capabilities, seminar rooms, group breakout rooms, a front desk operations center, model hotel rooms and offices for faculty and staff. Businesses and community members may rent the facility for conferences, receptions and parties. The school also plans to offer a series of non-credit cooking and wine-appreciation classes to community members.

Under the watchful eye of instructors, HRTM students manage all aspects of facility events — from catering sales and budgeting to cooking and food service. Students are even responsible for monitoring the facility’s finances.

“By involving students in the operational and management aspects of the building, we are using food and beverage operations as the vehicle to teach solid management skills,” says HRTM Director Peter Rainsford, who refers to the facility as a “management laboratory.”

“Ultimately, academic programs are judged by academic quality,” Rainsford adds. “The building in and of itself will not make us better, but the opportunity to use it to enrich and enhance the academic program will.”

Students enrolled in a special two-quarter event management course are planning a formal building dedication ceremony for May.

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