By Ronald Hanaki
On Monday, December 15, East Stroudsburg University announced that the departments of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management (HRTM) and Recreation Services Management would be merging. The merger became official at the start of the spring semester.
Students who are already enrolled in majors offered by the department should know that there are no immediate plans to change the course requirements for completion of their respective degrees.
Dr. Robert Fleischman, Dean of the College of Business and Management, said, “This is a unique opportunity to bring together two programs that have a lot in common with regards to hospitality, recreation services, and tourism in the Poconos – as well as in the Commonwealth (of Pennsylvania) and the region.”
He continued, “The aim is to deliver the highest quality program possible to the students. The merger brings together and focuses the strengths of the departments and puts us in the best position to achieve those goals.”
Professor Al Moranville will chair the newly constituted department.
According to Moranville, HRTM and Recreation Services are all part of the service industry. Thus, there are some overlaps and some common threads that exist between the faculty and the students. In reality, students from those majors end up completing similar coursework and similar internships.
Dr. Fleischman said, “The goal is to deliver the highest quality program possible in a cost-effective way and position those programs as destination programs in a region that leads the entire Commonwealth in hospitality, recreation, and tourism.”
The region’s numerous attractions such as Camelback, Great Wolf, Bushkill Group, the many national and state parks, and the incoming Kalahari resort “create synergies that position our program in ways that allow us to take advantage of internships and job opportunities for our students,” according to Dr. Fleischman.
“The merger creates efficiencies in terms of program offerings, and these efficiencies are designed to deliver the content of both programs in the most cost-effective way while enhancing what those programs (already) have to offer,” said Dr. Fleischman.
Therefore, Professor Moranville said, “The merger makes sense for the students.”
The current plan is for the new department to remain in Gessner, but there is work to be done in order to create enough space in the building to accommodate all the new students.
Moreover, a name for the new department is being decided upon and should be finalized by the end of the semester.
As for the ongoing issue of where the HRTM students can get their hands-on experience in the kitchen, the plan is to use the demo labs in the Keystone Room for this semester, though a more permanent solution is still being negotiated.
The university is working on a variety of things that will enable ESU to have a presence in the local community. In conjunction with that goal, the university is working together with local businesses in the effort to satisfy the kitchen space needs of the department and its students.
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