WSU Vancouver announces new business management degree program


Student interest, community need and a $675,000 gift from the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Foundation have come together to support the launch of a new degree program at Washington State University Vancouver – the Bachelor of Arts in hospitality business management. The degree will be offered beginning fall 2013.

Washington State University Board of Regents granted WSU Vancouver’s College of Business approval to offer the degree seven years ago. Then came 2008 and the economic recession. The hospitality industry suffered as businesses and families cut back on travel spending, and revenues tanked. The hospitality business management degree was put on ice.

Today the hospitality industry is recovering. This has prompted local leaders in the lodging and restaurant businesses to approach WSU Vancouver to say the time is right to launch the hospitality business management program.

“The hospitality business management degree is the number one, most-requested business major that we currently are not offering,” said Jane Cote, director of the College of Business at WSU Vancouver. “Over the past seven years, any time there was any hint that the hospitality business management degree might be offered here, my phone would start ringing. From students to industry leaders, there is excitement about this program.”

Launching the hospitality business management degree has been made possible by the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Foundation. Their gift will provide a five-year faculty fellowship. The Tod and Maxine McClaskey Fellowship in Hospitality is WSU Vancouver’s first named fellowship. The gift will support the salary and benefits of a hospitality business management faculty member while the program

gets established.

The Tod and Maxine McClaskey Foundation is uniquely suited to support the hospitality business management program. Tod McClaskey made his fortune in the hotel business. In 1959, McClaskey and his business partner Ed Pietz purchased the 89-room Thunderbird Motor Inn in Portland. That was the humble beginnings of the Thunderbird-Red Lion hotel chain, which became the largest privately held hotel chain west of the Mississippi by the time they sold it in 1984.

The Tod and Maxine McClaskey Foundation was established to support the communities Tod and Maxine loved past their lifetimes, honoring their legacy as it funds important projects throughout the Northwest, but primarily in Clark County. The foundation’s mission to support education and health, along with Tod McClaskey’s esteemed career in the hotel industry, were a perfect fit for the hospitality business management program.

A statement from the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Foundation’s board of directors said the foundation is very pleased to partner with WSU Vancouver to bring this premier hospitality management program to the greater Clark County region.

“Naming the faculty fellowship after Tod and Maxine certainly recognizes the dedication and hard work Tod put into building a quality company in the hospitality industry,” read the statement.

The board members recalled that Tod and Maxine valued education for all of their employees and focused on company-wide training programs to ensure professionalism and a first-class level of service throughout the Red Lion chain.

The hospitality business management program will integrate the solid foundation laid by the College of Business in Vancouver with Pullman’s world-class program that is consistently rated in the top 10 of 170 similar programs in the nation.

Hospitality business management focuses on management operations in the hospitality field, lodging, tourism, food and beverage, and senior living businesses. Students will be taught theoretical and applied methods, interpersonal skills, leadership aptitude and teamwork strategies.

The new faculty fellow will deliver the bulk of the curriculum to WSU Vancouver students. As part of the state-wide program, the fellow will also work collaboratively with faculty system-wide to advance the School of Hospitality Business Management. Building partnerships with the local industry and WSU Vancouver’s hospitality business management students will also be part of the fellow’s responsibilities. Students in the program must complete 1,000 hours of internship experience to earn their degrees.

Cote says the hospitality business management program’s emphasis on community engagement fits well with the College of Business’s mission and strategy.

“Our programs in small business consulting, accounting and professional sales are committed to bringing the classroom to the community and the community to the classroom. Hospitality business management will seamlessly fit into our existing palate of business programs,” said Cote.

Students who earn their degree in hospitality business management can expect to qualify for jobs managing top restaurants, hotel departments, convention centers, sports facilities, entertainment services, senior living centers and vacation centers. Other potential hospitality careers for graduates include purchasing, publicity, hiring and training employees, organizing catering and forecasting facility profits. Alumni of the program may also become entrepreneurs and operate their own restaurants or hotels.