UNLV’s hotel college eyes $50 million building

This week, the Business Press chats with Stowe Shoemaker, dean of the Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV:

Q. How is the push for the new Hospitality Hall building going? How much do you need to raise?

A. This building project was discussed in the 2013 legislative session and we expect the discussion to continue in 2015. Construction costs often fluctuate, but last projections called for costs to be about $50 million with state support accounting for 60 percent, or $30 million. The rest will come from private gifts. Our donors are excited about the building and they are also excited to support scholarships and programs that will give Harrah Hotel College students a distinct competitive advantage.

Hospitality Hall will be a 93,000-square-foot, state-of-the art center for the Harrah Hotel College and we are … finalizing the next set of drawings and planning documents in addition to focusing on fundraising.

Q. What new capabilities would Hospitality Hall give the program?

A. We will have exactly what we need to prepare future industry leaders in the art, science and business of hospitality and gaming.

The building will give the Hotel College opportunities to use cutting-edge approaches in the classroom and it will provide us with the capacity to accommodate a rapidly growing undergraduate and graduate student body. For example, it will let us use the inverted classroom approach (in which) faculty lecture less and facilitate projects and conversations more. … Hospitality Hall will feature classrooms, research space, student and faculty space, a teaching kitchen and other facilities. It will be very high-tech and will serve us well for decades.

Q. Do you have any concern that the hospitality school request will get lost as the Legislature weighs UNLV’s requests for medical school and other programs?

A. We’re confident that a medical school and this building are both in UNLV’s future. UNLV is on the path to gain Tier One status — an academic designation that reflects intense research productivity leading to economic benefits for surrounding communities.

Q. Brag a bit about the success of the most recent class. What kind of jobs did they land?

A. Our graduates find jobs across town and across the world. Our recent undergraduates are working for Hilton, Marriott, Caesars Properties, and MGM Resorts International to name just a few establishments; graduates of the UNLV PGA program — also in our college — go on to work and leading golf clubs and golf resorts. We find international students often spend one year working in the States and then go home to prestigious establishments in their home countries.

Those who earn master’s and Ph.D. degrees find homes in the industry (Cosmopolitan and MGM Resorts International) and our spring doctoral graduates also found employment at prestigious national universities such as the College of Charleston, Penn State and Iowa State.

Q. The school has posted quite a record of attracting students from outside Nevada. How has the school’s reputation grown?

A. Any given semester, we typically have students from nearly every state in the union and the international diversity we enjoy is amazing. Students come from 20 to 25 countries across the globe and make up about 25 percent of our enrollment. Top countries of student origin include South Korea, China, Bolivia, Mexico, and Macau.

We have a very good reputation abroad because our programs are excellent and the student support through advising and placement are superb. Our retention rates for last year were 85 percent for returning new freshmen and 92 percent for transfer students.

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