Academy of Hospitality & Tourism wins governor's award

Photo of George Grant, dean of the College of Community and Public Service
George Grant, dean of the College of Community and Public Service, at the 2018 announcement for the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts
Paul Stansbie, associate dean in the College of Community and Public Service.
Paul Stansbie, associate dean in the College of Community and Public Service.
Image Credit: Bernadine Carey Tucker

EXPANDING ACCESS

The Academy of Hospitality & Tourism at Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids has been recognized by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for innovation and collaboration.

The new college-career prep academy opened in fall 2019 and is a partnership with Grand Valley's Hospitality and Tourism Management Department, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Experience Grand Rapids, and AHC+Hospitality.

Experience Grand Rapids received the Governor's Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration February 19, during the 2020 Pure Michigan Governor's Conference on Tourism held in Grand Rapids.

Paul Stansbie, associate dean in the College of Community and Public Service, said the academy started with a cohort of 16 ninth grade students.

"In their first semester, students have attended an etiquette dinner, heard from a series of industry guest speakers, been on a number of site visits to hotels and industry-related properties and are now writing resumes in preparation for future internships," Stansbie said. 

Students also took a tour of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids. 

"Many students had never seen the inside, let alone a behind the scenes look, of luxury hotels like these. The experiential nature of this type of hands-on curriculum made them excited about future careers in the industry," Stansbie said.

The academy is in the process of formalizing an advisory board of local industry professionals who will help steer future curriculum, expand networking opportunities for students within the academy and serve as mentors.

Stansbie said, as students graduate, Grand Valley will partner with Grand Rapids Public Schools to explore advanced placement opportunities into GVSU degree programs. 

"Those students who may not pursue higher education will have a different perception about careers available to them and know that a number of leadership opportunities await them," he said.

George Grant, dean of the College of Community and Public Service, said hospitality is the second largest industry in Michigan, and one out of every 10 jobs is connected to the hospitality field.

"This academy is a wonderful step in expanding options for students and maintaining the talent pipeline in West Michigan," Grant said at a 2018 news conference announcing the academy. "It will build awareness of the many varied professional opportunities, competencies, and hard and soft skills needed to succeed at the management and executive level."

About the GVSU HTM Program

Grand Valley's HTM program was established in 1977 in response to the need for professionally trained managers. The HTM program offers a Bachelor of Science degree with emphases in: food and beverage management, lodging management, meeting and event management, recreation and leisure management, and tourism management.

The curriculum is taught by faculty with industry experience. For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/htm.