Rosen launches new hospitality program
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 20:09
UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management kicked off the first hospitality management doctoral program in Florida this week. The addition of this degree program adds UCF to a small list of less than 10 other colleges and universities in the nation with a similar program in place. The university is hoping that the program will not only add to the Rosen College’s academics, but to its reputation and quality of faculty and students in the future.
“If you’re looking to acquire top-notch faculty to do research and publication, the addition of a doctorate program is a very strong magnet for that,” said Paul Rompf, associate professor and director of graduate studies at Rosen.
Seven graduate students have enrolled in the degree program this fall. The program will focus heavily on research and will also prepare the students for careers in teaching, consulting and statistical analysis in the hospitality industry. To graduate, students must complete two years of full-time course work and a year-and-a-half of dissertation, totaling 58 credit hours. The hours are broken down into 16 hours of core courses, 27 hours of specialized course and 15 hours of dissertation research.
Having a Ph.D. program of its own isn’t exactly new to Rosen College; previously it had teamed up with the College of Education to offer a doctorate of education with a specialized track in hospitality.
“The education Ph.D. is a good degree. We believe that we have taken something that is good and strongly enhanced it,” Rompf said.
Although the degree programs are still very similar, they do differ in some key areas. Building a more respected image is one of the biggest advantages in separating from the College of Education. Changing the name of the degree will not only distinguish it at UCF, but will convey a different meaning to potential clients and hopefully bolster its image, Rompf said.
Another significant change from the previous degree program is increased flexibility. The core coursework was reduced to just six required classes and the rest of the specialized courses can be chosen from a wide array of options, including some from other colleges within UCF. Flexibility is one reason why Rosen College and the College of Education plan on continuing a partnership. Students in both colleges will have the opportunity to take some graduate level courses in the other. A similar partnership has been built between Rosen College and the College of Health and Public Affairs, as well as the College of Business.
The creation of a separate degree program was something that Rosen College staff had been pushing since the turn of the century.
“We were consistently told that the time wasn’t right, and we couldn’t do it,” Rompf said. “We just got the go ahead to do so in the last two years. We believe that the proposal we submitted well documented the demand both from the student side and the output side, the demand for grads. So we’re excited now to be a major player.”
Finally the time was right. The program was developed, but it didn’t receive approval until July to open for the fall semester. At that time, the admissions process had already been completed for the education doctoral program, so hospitality students were given the option of converting or completing their degrees.
“It was very exciting to see the degree gain approval along each step of the way,” said Kevin Murphy, associate professor and the chair of the College Graduate Policy and Curriculum Committee. Murphy also teaches strategies and tactics in food service to the new doctoral students.
The new program will only accept six new students each year, keeping enrollment steady at around 22 students.
“Several of the people we admit into the program have heavy industry experience, executives sometimes, as part of the criteria we look at for entrance into the program,” Rompf said.
In the future, the Rosen College staff hope to take advantage of its new image to not only attract top-tier faculty and students, but funding as well. The Rosen College does provide financial packages to its graduate students that include stipends for living and health insurance, but are lacking the funding to offer those packages to master’s-level students. Rompf said the Rosen College could also use additional funding for research, recruiting, faculty growth and participation in international conferences.
“One of our biggest obstacles is funding,” Rompf said. “We have over 3,500 students, majority of those are undergraduate students, and we don’t have adequate faculty to service all of those. Our graduate faculty also has to teach a lot of undergrad courses.”
The Rosen College of Hospitality Management’s undergraduate program has already made a name for itself, attracting influential supporters such as hotelier Harris Rosen for whom the college is named. In 2000 Rosen donated $10 million and 25 acres of land for the college’s growth.
“We are already the one of the premier undergraduate program[s] worldwide; this will help move our graduate program to this level,” Murphy said.