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The Hospitality Management Program dates back to the 1970s

By Dr. Jim Groves
Food Services in the past

The Hospitality Management Program at the University of Missouri dates back to 45 years ago. The idea of such a program was initiated in the early '70s by a group of hotel and restaurant managers from Kansas City and St. Louis. These managers believed that the flagship campus of the MU system should have a program that instructed students in becoming hospitality managers. After approaching several colleges, the College of Agriculture agreed to house the program. The College had just undergone a reorganization that resulted in the development of Food Science as an independent academic department. Food Science then agreed to take hospitality as a part of their department. Thus the Food Systems and Public Lodging Management Educational Program was formed. The Missouri Restaurant Association provided funds to hire the first faculty member, Dr. Jack Welch, to develop the program and recruit students. This was the beginning of a long relationship of support for the program by the MRA that continued today.

The program recruited some students and had some success, but was fairly inactive into the mid '80s until Dr. William Stringer was appointed the Chair of the Food Science Department. One of the challenges presented to Dr. Stringer was to develop or to close hospitality management. Dr. Stringer opted to develop the program, but was again hampered by a lack of funding. So he once again turned to the Missouri Restaurant Association and obtained funding to promote the program.

Dr. Stringer also recruited Dr. Nan Unklesbay from the Food Science faculty to begin teaching courses in hospitality. With the continuous support from the Missouri and Mid-Missouri Restaurant Association, the hospitality program began to grow. In mid-1980s, the program name was changed to Hotel & Restaurant Management (HRM) and offered Bachelor of Science degrees.

The Hotel & Restaurant Management Program continued to grow in numbers of students and faculty, but remained a part of the Food Science Department. In the late 1990s, two tenure-track faculty members were hired and began to develop research programs for HRM and the undergraduate program of HRM continued to grow as well. Hospitality recruiters began to look to the program to fill management positions within their companies which led to the development of a Hospitality Career Fair. Denny Bond, then General Manager of the Downtown St. Louis Marriott, developed a course that allowed students to spend four days in St. Louis touring and working with hotels. The Missouri Restaurant Association and the St. Louis Hotel Association began awarding scholarships to HRM students. All of these events affirmed the interest of the industry in our hospitality education program.

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Starting in 2000, many exciting events happened from HRM. Three new tenure track faculty members arrived and were later awarded tenure. A new Program Chair, Dr. Jim Groves, was promoted and brought new ideas to the program. Student enrollment grew so rapidly that HRM became the largest single program in the College. Four emphasis areas were developed: Food & Beverage Management, Lodging Management, Conference & Event Management, and Sports Venue Management (SVM). The emphasis areas allowed hospitality students to focus and develop an expertise on an area of their career choice. SVM was a new initiative with financial support from the Provost Office. This track focuses on the management of venues in the entertainment and sports industries. During this time, a Master of Science degree and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree option were developed with the assistance of Food Science. In 2011, the Program changed its name to Hospitality Management.

The growth of the program continues in an exciting way today. In fall 2013, Dr. Eliza Tse was hired as the new Chair of the Hospitality Management Program. She is the first faculty member to receive Full Professor status in Hospitality Management. She brings with her an impressive reputation within hospitality education and much experience in program growth. HM is excited and is taking steady strides in its mission to become a preeminent hospitality program.