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University Beat

USF teams with McKibbon Hospitality on a hands-on ‘teaching hotel’ program

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USF Muma College of Business
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USF Muma College of Business
USF School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Interim Dean Cihan Cobanoglu (left), McKibbon Hospitality President Randy Hassen (center), and Dean of the USF Muma College of Business Moez Limayem (right) at an event announcing the partnership between McKibbon and USF.

The partnership will allow students to train in hotel work at McKibbon properties like Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton.

The University of South Florida Muma College of Business is forging a new partnership to give some of its students hands-on hospitality experience before heading into the workforce.

The partnership with Tampa-based company McKibbon Hospitality will offer training programs to students in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Students will be able to work in a variety of departments within a hotel, from the front desk, to back of house, and sales and marketing.

“They'll really be able to be fully immersed into the hotel environment to learn about what direction, what career path they want to take and where their strengths lie,” said McKibbon President Randy Hassen.

“It'll give them great exposure while they're in school.”

McKibbon manages over 100 Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt hotels in 10 states from Florida to Illinois.

A partnership like this with a hotel management company is the first in the country, according to USF School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Interim Dean Cihan Cobanoglu.

He said this kind of partnership is something he’s wanted for the school for a while.

“The missing piece from the puzzle was a systematic structured partnership with a hotel company,” said Cobanoglu.

“This partnership will allow our students to be very appealing to all employers, because of the practical training, the internships that they will have, they will be able to hit the ground running with any employers,” said Moez Limayem, Dean of the USF Muma College of Business.

“The data tells us that the most important factor affecting student success as defined by having a good education but also a great job at graduation or shortly after with a competitive salary, are internships and experiential learning,” he added.

Cobanoglu also served as the school’s dean from 2011 to 2015 when hospitality and tourism management classes were only offered at the Sarasota-Manatee campus.

With USF’s recent consolidation, the school is expanding to the Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses as well, so students from any campus will have the opportunity to participate in this partnership.

“At that time, it was not possible because even though we were USF, we were accredited independently, which made it difficult to offer the degree,” said Cobanoglu. “So when I heard about the consolidation, I actually jumped in the air because I was so happy that I knew that now we could do it.”

Cobanoglu said that around 10 courses, including sustainable tourism, diversity, equity and inclusion in hospitality, and food and culture will be offered on the Tampa campus starting in the spring semester.

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