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FGCU to restructure hospitality program

FGCU’s resort and hospitality management degree program faces restructuring after administration decided it needed to be more rigorous. 

Provost Jim Llorens informed all students last month the School of Resort and Hospitality Management would be modified. According to Llorens’ email, the program’s current curriculum was not adequate enough to produce competitive graduates.

“Business changes,” Llorens said. “We have to provide students with stronger preparation for the industry. I believe it’s something that we as a university are obligated to do for any program.”

The biggest changes so far have been the termination of the spa management concentration and the closure of the student-run Spa Lab. 

“The Spa Lab wasn’t used regularly,” Llorens said. “Students used it as a training ground.” According to Llorens, there was no valid reason or purpose to keep it open. Bryn Goldsmith, who was on track to become the spa’s director, disagreed. 

“The existence of the Spa Lab and spa management concentration was the reason I chose to attend FGCU over UCF,” Goldsmith, a junior majoring in RHM with a concentration in spa management, said.

The Spa Lab offered students the chance to gain experience within the hospitality industry. Students oversaw the lab’s operations, but licensed professionals performed all the treatments, such as facials and massages. 

Its closure on June 7, about eight years after it opened, was received negatively by RHM students and graduates. 

“The lab introduced me to the spa industry and made me realize that industry was truly the right place for me to be,” Goldsmith said. 

New students enrolling in the RHM program won’t be offered the option to declare spa management as a concentration. Once all of the current students have graduated, spa courses will no longer be offered at FGCU.

This change stems from the integration of the RHM program into the Lutgert College of Business. RHM has always been a part of the LCOB, but the new curriculum will now be held to more ridged business accreditation standards instead of its previous hospitality standards. 

According to Llorens, a decrease in enrollment also played a factor in discontinuing the spa management concentration. In 2014, there were 195 more students majoring in the RHM program than 2018.

Despite the upcoming implementation of new courses and requirements, existing students are expected to graduate on time. 

“There won’t be a change in the curriculum for anybody that’s currently in the program,” Llorens said. “This fall will basically be having the same courses, and we will start to slowly implement the new curriculum.”

The RHM faculty will also be re-evaluated because of the new accreditation criteria. They received a one-year notice of possible termination in May 2020. The faculty’s qualifications will be judged based on how well they align with the LCOB. 

Once they have been assessed, they will either be offered longer employment to continue teaching the old curriculum, be employed on a permanent basis or be terminated. 

Faculty members did not desire to comment publicly about this development. 

“All of the hospitality professors are such incredible, dedicated faculty members. This is not an easy time, but their passion for the industry, their students and the program shines through,” Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith and other RHM students will continue to advocate for the reappointment of the faculty and the future of the program.

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