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New Program for Students Pursuing Hosptality Degrees

By Emma Enebak

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it is no secret that the meeting and events industry has required some creativity and adaptation. As economic circumstances shifted, so did response systems of institutions across the country. Boise State University is making the most of these changes with a new Resort Operations and Hospitality Management Program in partnership with Idaho’s hospitality industry.

Hospitality has always held a key position within Idaho’s economy, largely due to the state’s abundance of ski resorts—but throughout the pandemic, it experienced even more growth. Heading into 2022 as the third largest industry in the state, with an annual revenue close to $2 billion, it was time to create a space for hospitality within Idaho’s education system.

“During COVID-19, a lot of resorts and restaurants found that they did not have sufficient labor to help,” explains Kent Neupert, chair of the Department of Management at Boise State University. “We received a request from the industry to help. There was a need for an advanced training and job upskilling program to prepare students to enter these roles.”

Their solution was a 17-19 credit, online certificate program provided by the College of Business and Economics, designed to combine both educational and hands-on work in hospitality management. The program involves seven courses and can be completed in three academic semesters. The structure includes an orientation course, five business-focused courses, and a final internship for applied learning experience.

“The unique part is that students will [not only] be receiving business training, but also experiential hands-on learning through internships with industry partners,” says Karen Nicholas, a faculty member of the new program.

“If a student wants to work at a spa resort in Sun Valley in the spring and then spend summer in Boise working at a hotel, they can absolutely do that,” Neupert says.

The program offers flexibility with a student’s time, location, and finances. The state of Idaho has also promised tax benefits to any employers sponsoring the program. “With enough employers supporting the program, students could complete the certificate at a minimal cost,” notes Katherine Eriksen, senior program manager.