provided to The Santiva Chronicle
The School of Resort & Hospitality Management (SRHM) at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is flexing and strengthening to meet the needs of a community driven by tourism, director and associate professor Dr. Catherine Curtis told members of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce at its July 13 meeting.
The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) jointly hosted the luncheon, which took place at Casa Ybel Resort’s Thistle Lodge on Sanibel Island.
“We look at our curriculum as something we make changes to every year,” Curtis said. “We focus on staying innovative and meeting industry needs.”
She enumerated some of the programs that the department introduced, or reintroduced since COVID, this past school year, and explained what’s ahead, including an MBA program that’s currently undergoing approval.
The school’s Career & Internship Fair has returned, with the next annual hiring event scheduled for Sept. 27, 2022, at FGCU. This year, Curtis hopes to add a speaker’s series to the agenda. Already, 21 employers have signed up, and she encouraged chamber members to get involved.
“If you’re looking for workers, you should definitely come,” she said. She also urged involvement in the school’s Camp Pineapple, which is held in June to familiarize high school students with resort and hospitality experiences at local resorts. A new initiative, Career Closet, aims at helping students dress for success in their fields.
The SHRM emphasizes the business end of the industry, Curtis said, specifically targeted for management and leadership positions. Students have the opportunity to specialize in concentrations such as lodging, restaurant and club, food and beverage, and event management. About 75 percent of the school’s graduates stay in the area to work, she estimated.
“Dr. Curtis delivered a nuts-and-bolts introduction to FGCU’s resort and hospitality program, but at the same time offered hope for the future of the industry in Southwest Florida,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “Her strong background comes from researching and educating in Florida and beyond and having served as the secretary for the International Council of Hotel and Restaurant and Institutional Education. She brings a renewed energy to the local industry.”
The next business luncheon takes place on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the Captiva Island Yacht Club. It will feature an update on Sanibel Causeway renovations by Jesse Lavender, director of Lee County Parks & Recreation, starting at 11:30 a.m. Members will receive emails about registration. For more information on sponsoring or attending the event, contact Landen Collins at 239-472-8255 or Landen@sanibel-captiva.org.