Hotel and Restaurant Industry’s Wish List for University Graduates

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow,(562) 951-4800,

(June 27, 2005) — Hotel and restaurant industry leaders told the California State University system that, to meet current needs, California universities would have to produce about 10 times the number of graduates being produced today.

Currently more than 1,100 students are enrolled in hotel and restaurant/hospitality, management, and travel and tourism programs on CSU campuses. Each year the CSU graduates 722 professionals in the tourism industry, including hospitality services and management, wildlife management, natural resources, rangeland management, travel and tourism, and recreation administration. “Far too few for industry needs,” according to CSU officials.

During a recent meeting of the California State University system with leaders of the hotel, restaurant and tourism industries, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed asked industry leaders about the challenges faced by the industry to meet current and future needs.

Industry and university officials agreed that universities must add capacity to produce more college-educated professionals interested in joining the industry.

What’s in the mix of young professionals who would start at an entry-level job and swiftly move to management positions?

Here’s the industry’s wish list for new university graduates:

  • Multilingual, sensitive to culture and diversity: understanding of the cultures of other countries
  • Creative thinkers: find new ways to sell the industry
  • Well rounded: know all aspects of the business and how to deal with people
  • Union savvy: know how to work and manage an industry with strong unions
  • Strong communicators: good oral and written communications skills.

“Leadership is being redefined from the time I attended Harvard Business School,” said Tom Davin, president and chief operating officer of Panda Restaurant Group, Inc., a group of more than 700 Panda Express restaurants. “Today leadership does not come exclusively from the CEO but from anybody with the right idea and who is capable of influencing others.”

Industry decision makers and CSU leaders met at Cal Poly Pomona’s Collins School of Hospitality Management where students rolled out the red carpet and treated their guests with a three-course lunch prepared and served by them.

The meeting was part of a series of conversations of CSU leaders with several industries to discuss the impact of the CSU on these industries and ensure that the CSU keeps its status as the education leader that is working to meet the needs of California.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 400,000 students and 42,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded about 2 million degrees, about 82,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See

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Last Updated: July 1, 2005

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