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Hospitality and Tourism Management benefits from Marriott grant

  • Thursday, July 28, 2016

    Marriott grant provides support for Hospitality and Tourism Management program

    Kitchen-Shady GroveROCKVILLE, MD- (July 28, 2016) - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore's Hospitality and Tourism Management program is the recipient of a $300,000 grant from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.

    The money will be used at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, Md., to install customized teaching technology, upgrade the program's commercial kitchen, and provide support for internships and student participation in conferences.

    “We are pleased to continue to support UMES's Hospitality and Tourism Management program at the Universities at Shady Grove,” said Anne Gunsteens, Executive Director of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “We are committed to helping prepare the next generation of hospitality leaders and admire the program leadership's dedication to student success.”

    UMES faculty member Ruth Lee O'Rourke, the Shady Grove program director, said “We're very excited about what this gift will enable us to do - bring active learning to the next level.”

    The centerpiece will be transforming instructional space known as the Marriott Hospitality Center into what Shady Grove calls an “active-learning classroom” featuring “high tech, high touch, and most importantly collaboration,” she said.

    In one classroom, whiteboards and a lectern will be replaced by a 90-inch touch-screen monitor connected to pod stations where students will sit in small groups and use touch screens to interact with one another and the instructor.

    “This will be an active-learning lab for them,” O'Rourke said.

    “I am amazed at our students' commitment to their academics because 98 percent of them work either full-time or part-time in the hospitality field in the Washington, D.C.-area where they encounter customized technology in those jobs,” she said.

    “This will provide them the competitive edge in their current workplace,” O'Rourke said. “It creates an open dialog to learn and practice what they're going to be doing in the real world. Our students learn best by doing.”

    Classroom upgrades will take place during the upcoming 2016-17 school year, enabling instructors to be trained in using the technology effectively.

    Some of the new Marriott gift also will be set aside for “student development.”

    “I appreciate the Marriott Foundation understanding how vital it is to invest in student professional development,” O'Rourke said. “This allow us to take our students beyond the classroom.”

    The grant will assist students in earning professional certification, fund their travel to industry conferences and workshops, and enable them to participate in a new mentor/mentee program, including activities with industry professionals.

    Grant money will be used to update the curriculum and underwrite business plan and project management simulations.

    “We have a strong commitment to growing a pipeline of hospitality leaders,” O'Rourke said. “We are very thankful that Marriott Foundation continues to invest in the development of the next generation of professionals.”

    A similar gift from the Bethesda, Md.-based foundation in 2009 paid for renovation of an existing kitchen and modernizing it to become the Marriott Teaching Kitchen, she said. 

    Education efforts, from early childhood development to college and career readiness, are a focus of the Marriott Foundation's work and philanthropic priorities.


      Bill Robinson, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355