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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


Florida Gulf Coast University Announces New Resort and Hospitality Management Degree Program

FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University has unveiled plans for a new Resort & Hospitality Management Degree Program to begin in the academic year 2003-2004. In making the announcement, University President Bill Merwin also announced the receipt of a $5 million gift from Herbert J. and Margaret Sugden of Naples. The gift, which qualifies for state matching funds, could provide $9.2 million to fund construction and key startup costs for the degree program, including positions for a director and faculty.

“Southwest Florida has gained prominence as one of the premier tourism and golf destinations in the world,” said Merwin. “We believe that by educating a five-star hospitality workforce, Florida Gulf Coast University can play a significant role in Southwest Florida’s hospitality and tourism industries, which are critical components of this region’s economy.”

Merwin explained that the Bachelor of Science Resort and Hospitality Management Program will operate out of the College of Professional Studies. The degree program will have two areas of concentration - resort/hospitality and golf management. It will require 30 credit hours in resort management courses and nine credit hours in either resort/hospitality or golf management. In addition, students will complete a 1,500-hour, hands-on internship.

“As the hospitality industry in Southwest Florida has grown and prospered, the demand for highly skilled managers in a broad range of positions has increased dramatically,” said Jerry Thirion, managing director of LaPlaya Beach & Golf Club and chairman of the FGCU Resort & Hospitality Management Advisory Board. “This program will provide students with the technical and managerial competence to excel and take advantage of the tremendous career opportunities available throughout Southwest Florida.”

“We are working very closely with the leaders of the hospitality industry to ensure that the program meets their needs and provides valuable internship opportunities,” Merwin stated. He explained that the program will have two areas of concentration - resort/hospitality and golf management.

The 45,000-square-foot Sugden Hall for Resort and Hospitality Management will include eight guest rooms, an executive dining room and a living laboratory with a state-of-the-art caterer’s kitchen for training students through practical experience.

A fundraising campaign is currently under way to raise the additional $600,000 required to fund the Resort and Hospitality Management Program. Donations may be made by contacting Linda Lehtomaa, director of advancement, at (941) 590-1071.

As an accredited comprehensive public university, FGCU addresses the higher educational needs of Southwest Florida and provides a learning-centered environment that offers high quality educational opportunities for the public. The University currently offers 33 undergraduate and 17 graduate degrees in five colleges.

For more information about the degree program, contact dean of the College of Professional Studies Johnny McGaha at (941) 590-7823.

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