Grant expands hospitality and tourism program

Grant expands hospitality and tourism program

A grant of $289,765 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will take UW-Stout's hospitality and tourism program beyond the campus to virtually any part of the state.

The grant provides funding to develop asynchronous learning experiences which give students access to education in any remote place at their convenience. Students will receive their instruction by the internet, computers and other new delivery systems.

"This is a major step in taking instruction beyond the campus to people who might not be able to obtain an education in the traditional university environment," Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen said in announcing the grant. "This is precisely the approach to education we must add to our traditional instructional methods, if we are to reach new audiences and serve the world of the 21st century."

Richard Anderson, special assistant to the chancellor, said that the Sloan Foundation provides funding to about 15 universities nationwide for projects focusing on asynchronous learning. Anderson, who coordinated the grant, said that small businesses are playing an integral role in the project's planning and development.

The idea for the program began several years ago when a group of Door County business operators approached Anderson about developing student co-op activities in their region. Door County often faces a lack of qualified employees for their tourism industry, and having hospitality and tourism students from UW-Stout fill this void would benefit both the students and the industry, Anderson said. But in order for students to participate in such extended co-ops, they would also need to continue some of their other studies, a role that would involve some form of distance education. The Sloan Grant will enable UW-Stout to offer hospitality and tourism courses, not only in Door County, but in virtually any part of the state, Anderson said.

The grant will help finance several specific activities:

  • Release faculty to convert five courses to asynchronous learning network modes of instruction and to teach those courses.
  • Expand the training of faculty and staff in asynchronous education.
  • Develop and deliver two certificate programs in hospitality and tourism.
  • Survey professionals in the industry to determine the need for professional development through new delivery systems.
  • Evaluate outcomes and efficiencies of these new delivery systems.
Sorensen said the grant represents a commitment of the university to develop new approaches to teaching and, at the same time, recognizes the national reputation of UW-Stout's hospitality and tourism program, which currently enrolls about 800 students.

Project staff includes Jim Buergermeister, chair of the department of hospitality and tourism; Joseph Holland, a professor in the department; Randall Upchurch, program director for the master's degree in hospitality and tourism, and Esther Fahm, dean of the School of Human Environmental Sciences.

Outlook Spring '96