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New HRTM building will give hospitality students hands-on experience

The new HRTM facility will host events like receptions, conferences and weddings.

Imagine you want to arrange a meeting in Denver. You are looking for a beautiful facility, managed by knowledgeable staff, with well-appointed conference rooms, good food and professional service.

Soon, you will find that facility on the University of Denver campus.

In August, DU’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM) began construction of a new building that will include conference rooms, kitchens and dining rooms in addition to faculty and staff offices. The new facility will host events like receptions, conferences and weddings.

The facility itself will become an integral part of the HRTM curriculum. Unlike the other approximately 200 four-year hotel schools in the United States, at DU, HRTM students will run the entire building, gaining hands-on management experience in the process. The “management laboratory” experience will involve every HRTM course, and students will fill all the facility-management positions, ranging from managing the budget to preparing and serving food.

The new building, which should be completed by August 2005, will raise the  education quality at HRTM to a new level, says HRTM Director Peter Rainsford. “With the new building, we are able to put together one of the finest hospitality management curriculums in the United States,” Rainsford notes. “Unlike most schools, our management laboratory will be small enough that students can manage it completely.”

To be competitive, Rainsford says, DU must provide classrooms, practice laboratories and a management laboratory, along with a rigorous curriculum. The curriculum and classrooms are in place, and the Colorado hospitality industry meets the practice laboratory need by providing internships for HRTM students.

The new management laboratory will be the last piece in the puzzle. The addition of the management lab to HRTM’s programs is expected to increase the school’s enrollment to 360 from approximately 200 now, and the expected increase in applicants will allow the school to be more selective in its admission process.

To build the management laboratory, HRTM has launched a $25-million campaign, $18 million of which is needed for construction. Seven million will be used to endow scholarships and faculty chairs.

So far, $14 million has been raised. Those who have made substantial pledges include: Robert Alter; Trustee Joy Burns; John Farquharson, BSBA ’60; Trustee Margot Frank; Trustee Nate Goldston, BS ’62; Trustee Pat Hamill; Steve Higgins, BSBA ’76; Chancellor Dan Ritchie; Zach Neumeyer; and Rosie Meyer. In addition, there have been two major anonymous gifts, and 19 companies have donated food and beverage production equipment. The building has not yet been named.

“I am convinced that the HRTM campaign will not only change the face of the school, but also the face of hospitality education,” says Farquharson, a campaign committee member. “The programming that will result from the campaign-created endowments, to be carried out in the new management laboratory, will serve as the model for other hospitality schools across the globe.”

The 45,000-square-foot, three-story red brick and limestone building will feature DU’s signature copper roof and will be located between Driscoll University Center and the Evans Memorial Chapel. The site was chosen because the facility is meant to be the ‘formal family room’ for the DU campus, a place where DU can host events in an elegant fashion, according to University Architect Mark Rodgers.

“We are excited, and I think our students will be excited as well,” Rainsford says.


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