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California State University and Hospitality/Tourism Leaders to Examine Challenges of Workforce Preparation

(May 26, 2005) — California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed and other CSU officials will meet the leaders of the hotel management and tourism industry on June 2 to discuss the challenges faced by higher education in preparing students for the jobs of the future.

“One of our goals is to educate diverse and talented students to help them on their way to success in the marketplace,” Chancellor Reed said. “We will look to these leaders for suggestions on how we can better prepare our students to lead the hotel and tourism industry through its challenges in the future and also how we can facilitate the students’ transition from college to work.”

Hotel, restaurant and tourism industry decision makers and educators will gather for a forum from 9:30 a.m. to noon, on Thursday, June 2, at Cal Poly Pomona’s Collins School of Hospitality Management. The forum will focus on higher education’s role in producing well-prepared graduates for jobs in the hotel, restaurant, wine, and tourism industries.

More than 1,100 CSU students are enrolled in hotel and restaurant/hospitality, management, and travel and tourism programs on CSU campuses. The CSU grants 76 percent of the state’s total degrees in the tourism industry.

For a complete view of the CSU’s impact on this industry as well as others, go to

The forum’s keynote speaker will be Caroline Beteta, executive director of the industry-led California Travel and Tourism Commission (CTTC), a nonprofit organization created to market California as a premier travel destination and to increase the state’s share of tourism-related revenue. She also serves as deputy secretary for tourism under the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. Beteta is the lead spokesperson for California’s $82.5 billion tourism industry.

Los Angeles Times’ travel consumer columnist James Gilden will moderate a panel of industry experts, including the following speakers:

Tom Davin, president and chief operating officer of Panda Restaurant Group, Inc., a group of more than 700 Panda Express restaurants, five Panda Inn full-service restaurants and 17 Hibachi-San Japanese Grill restaurants.

Claude Hoover, chief operating officer of Bernabe Vineyard (Monterey County), the most diverse single vineyard in the world, with 21 wine grape varieties grown on more than 120 distinct vineyard blocks.

Mark S. Liberman, president and chief executive officer of LA INC., the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Recognized as Los Angeles' official tourism marketing organization, LA INC. is a private, not-for-profit business association whose primary mission is to promote the city of Los Angeles as the premier site for meetings, conventions and leisure travel. Prior to joining LA INC., Liberman spent 34 years with United Airlines.

Mary Niven, vice president for food & beverage at Disneyland Resort. Niven joined the Disney team in June 2000, bringing more than 25 years of restaurant experience to the resort. Previously, she was director of dining services at UCLA. Niven is nationally recognized for developing and successfully implementing the first “Marketplace” food concept in university residential dining in the United States.

Rod Rankin, senior vice president and general manager of Paramount’s Great America in Santa Clara. He oversees the company’s management agreement for Bonfante Gardens Family Theme Park in Gilroy.

Eva N. Wassermann, vice president for the north central region of Hilton Hotels Corporation. Prior to joining Hilton, in 2000, she was part of the team at Strategic Hotel Capital that acquired more than $2 billion in hotel properties throughout the United States and Europe over a 12-month period.

Chancellor Charles B. Reed and Cal Poly Pomona President J. Michael Ortiz will speak on behalf of the California State University.

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: June 3, 2005

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