Event and Hospitality program unveiled at MSU-Meridian

Torrie Bourgeois of Collinsville takes a quiz in her entrepreneurship class at MSU-Meridian’s Riley Campus.  Bourgeois is pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Technology degree in Event and Hospitality Services, a new degree program available for the first time this fall.

Students seeking a Bachelor of Applied Technology degree are discovering a new option this fall — and beyond — now that MSU-Meridian has added an Event and Hospitality Services program to its offerings.

Richard V. Damms, interim division head of the Division of Arts & Sciences for MSU-Meridian, said the university is cultivating a close relationship with area community colleges in offering the program.

“Many of (the colleges) have technical specializations or associate degrees in areas such as culinary arts, hotel and restaurant management and various aspects of the service industries,” Damms said. “That is a part of the state economy and the regional economy in which there has been — and will continue to be — growth in the next few years.”

Damms said university officials, in starting the new program, are seeking to provide students who already have technical skills the opportunity to move into management positions within their fields.

Event and Hospitality Services is one of two programs through which students can earn a Bachelor of Applied Technology degree at MSU-Meridian. The other, Healthcare Services, began in 2013 and has grown this school year with an entering class of 12 students, said William W. Hill, who heads the Division of Business at MSU-Meridian. The previous high was nine entering students, Hill said.

Damms said the Event and Hospitality Services program — like the Healthcare Services program — may offer students who already have specialized degrees the chance to expand their professional options. He noted that students will take a combination of liberal arts and business courses as they work toward the degree. The liberal arts courses, he suggested, could help to nourish students' cultural understanding.

“We want the students in the program to be able to relate to a diverse audience and understand and empathize with the various people they will come into contact with," he said. He noted that the whole industry of hospitality "has international, multicultural, multiracial customers, and we need our graduates to be able to work effectively with people to understand their concerns and their needs.”

Damms also mentioned such courses as business ethics and gender in the workplace as part of the degree.

As for the business portion of the coursework, Hill stressed service.

"It's a service-oriented industry," he said. "So, we've (emphasized) service, along with a heavy dose of marketing management."

Hill said an internship would also be part of the program — and he mentioned several area industries that may be seeking new employees, including health, tourism, entertainment and various kinds of recreation.

Damms and Hill emphasized that both of MSU-Meridian’s Bachelor of Applied Technology programs accept technical credits that other four-year degree programs may not.

“We don’t want to be sending the students back saying, ‘We aren’t going to accept your … career-oriented associate’s degree,’” Damms said. “We want to embrace that and make that part of their four-year program.”

Damms said the Bachelor of Applied Technology degree could also be valuable to people already in the workforce.

Hill stressed that area community college officials have communicated with MSU-Meridian about the benefits of a four-year degree program in technological areas. A goal, Hill said, was to offer students who have attended nearby community colleges a chance to continue their educations close to home.

“We want to give them this degree locally,” Hill said.

The Healthcare Services program includes students with a range of concentrations, such as dental hygiene, physical therapy, practical nursing, medical billing and coding, Emergency Management Technician training, medical office management and surgical technology, according to MSU-Meridian records. Of the four students in Event and Hospitality Services, three are in business and marketing management technology, and one is in hotel-restaurant technology.

Hill noted, too, that the Division of Business started a Collegiate DECA organization in 2015 — an organization for “students, educators, school administrators and business professionals,” according to DECA's website. The Bachelor of Applied Technology degrees, he said, create a strong complement to the program.

“We saw that as a nice marriage,” he said.

People seeking more information about either of the Bachelor of Applied Technology degree programs at MSU-Meridian can contact Kevin Entrekin, academic advisor, 601-484-0244 or email him at kentrekin@meridian.msstate.edu.


Article by Michael Neary - The Meridian Star


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