The Oklahoma State University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) is set to join the OSU Spears School of Business since the OSU/A&M Board of Regents approved the move on March 1. Previously a part of the College of Human Sciences, the school is expected to create more synergy for collaborative educational efforts between HTM and business degree programs. The move takes effect July 1.
“We are delighted that HTM will be moving to Spears Business, and we warmly welcome the students, faculty, staff and alumni to the Spears family,” said Dr. Ken Eastman, dean of the business school. “We believe this is the beginning of a very productive and positive partnership, which will enhance HTM and existing business programs.”
Established in 1937, HTM trains students and conducts research for the food and beverage, lodging, event planning and tourism management industries. The College of Human Sciences, Spears Business and OSU administration agreed that HTM’s students would be best served by greater access to courses, programs and organizations available through the business school. HTM will become the eighth academic department in Spears Business.
“The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management is one of the oldest hospitality programs in the United States,” said Dr. Li Miao, interim head of HTM. “This move provides the school with a clear and prominent identity as an industry-specific business management program. HTM is excited about the new possibilities this creates, including collaborative research and team teaching for faculty, priority access to business courses and extracurricular activities as well as business-focused career facilities and services.”
In addition to adding about 250 students to Spears Business, the move brings 14 faculty and eight staff members to the business school. The HTM program offers a bachelor’s degree as well as master’s and doctorate degree programs. HTM will remain based in its current facilities with its classrooms, food and beverage laboratories and Taylor’s and Planet Orange restaurants now becoming part of the business school.
“The move will allow us to leverage our resources and produce stronger educational and scholarly activities,” Eastman said. “Many HTM students already take business classes, and a number of Spears faculty have served on dissertation committees in HTM, so we are already familiar with each other. I am very excited to see how this partnership develops and the benefits that it will produce.”
HTM alumna and president of the program’s board of advisors, Paige Shepherd, said she believes the move is a positive one for students and HTM alumni.
“The alignment of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management with the Spears School of Business further showcases the fact that the hospitality industry is a business,” Shepherd said. “Opportunities for current and future students of the program through the Spears School of Business will increase the desirability of the program while continuing to deliver a nationally ranked degree in hospitality and tourism management.
“Additionally, HTM alumni can take advantage of the vast Spears alumni network as a resource for networking and collaboration as most alumni currently work across various business organizations.”
Students were informed about the change through email and at a question-and-answer session with Eastman, Spears associate deans and Miao. Students received details about the move and learned degree requirements would not change for current students.
“I was worried at first, but then we started to learn more, and it makes sense,” said HTM student Megan Annuschat. “The HTM major is more of a general business degree. There are so many different facets of the hospitality industry that are business related so I think the move will be more conducive to HTM students digging even deeper into what they want to do.”
Student Nico Gerbrecht said greater access to business classes will make graduating students even stronger job candidates while participating in programs such as those offered in the School of Entrepreneurship is a natural takeoff for students interested in starting their own hospitality businesses.
“A big goal for a lot of us is to open our own businesses, whether it be a café or a restaurant. I even know someone who wants to open their own hotel, so being integrated into the entrepreneurial curriculum and having greater access to those classes will be a huge opportunity for all of us,” Gerbrecht said.
“Combined with HTM’s state-of-the-art facilities and a curriculum with an industry-focused experiential and service-learning component, the move will provide students with a solid business foundation crowned with hospitality acumen,” Miao said.