Florida Gulf Coast University’s School of Resort & Hospitality Management (SRHM) is adapting and growing stronger to meet the needs of a tourism-driven community, director and associate professor Dr. Catherine Curtis told the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce during its July 13 lunch meeting at Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant at Casa Ybel Resort in Sanibel.
“We view our program as something that we change every year,” she says. “We strive to stay innovative and meet industry needs.”
Curtis listed some of the programs the department has introduced or reintroduced since COVID, last school year and explained what lies ahead, including an MBA program that is currently in the approval process.
The school’s Career and Internship Fair is back, with the next annual hiring event scheduled for September 27 at FGCU. This year, she hopes to add a series of lectures to the agenda. Already, 21 employers have signed up and Curtis has encouraged chamber members to get involved.
“If you are looking for workers, you absolutely must come” she says.
Curtis also encouraged attendance at the school’s Camp Pineapple, which is held in June to introduce high school students to resort and hospitality experiences at local resorts. A new initiative, Career Closet, aims to help students dress for success in their field.
She said SHRM emphasizes the business side of the industry, specifically targeted for leadership and management positions. Students have the opportunity to specialize in concentrations such as hospitality, catering and club, catering, and event management. Curtis estimated that about 75% of the school’s graduates stay in the area to work.
“Dr. Curtis delivered a practical introduction to the FGCU resort and hospitality program, but at the same time offered hope for the future of the industry in Southwest Florida,” said chamber president and CEO John Lai. “His strong background comes from research and education in Florida and beyond and served as Secretary of the International Council for Hotels and Restaurants and Institutional Education. It brings renewed energy to local industry.
The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association co-hosted the lunch.