Marriott Foundation grant to DePaul University aims to develop next generation of hospitality leaders
CHICAGO —A new grant from The J. Willard and Alice S.
Marriott Foundation will be used to provide personalized progressive career preparation
and leadership development strategies to students enrolled in the School of
Hospitality Leadership at DePaul University.
The $1.8 million grant will help establish The J. Willard
and Alice S. Marriott Center for Student Development and Engagement in DePaul’s
School of Hospitality Leadership. One of the goals of the new center is to
provide students a greater opportunity to engage with industry leaders and
alumni for career success. The new center, based in downtown Chicago, is believed
to be the first of its kind in the country.
“This center will offer all prospective and enrolled
hospitality students a visible and effective gateway into the hospitality
profession and create important organizational and leadership advantages,” said
Misty Johanson, director of the School of Hospitality Leadership.
Coupled with a highly specialized and cutting-edge four-year
curriculum, the one-on-one development of soft and professional skills at the
center will give DePaul students a competitive advantage as they advance in
their careers, Johanson said.
The center’s curriculum will also offer a new ambassador
program that will give hospitality leadership students the opportunity to work
one-on-one in a mentor relationship at the executive level within the industry
in Chicago. “Because of DePaul’s ideal location and tremendous industry support
for the program, executives are eager to be involved in the School of
Hospitality Leadership and the lives of its students,” Johanson said.
This new center provides DePaul’s School of Hospitality
Leadership with additional key tools to help train students for leadership
roles in hotels, restaurants and other tourism ventures. The demand for young professionals
with advanced knowledge and business skills necessary to successfully compete
in a global environment is accelerating, and with the help from this center
will allow students to stand at the front of this rapidly growing and complex
industry, according to Johanson.
Tools of the trade
A new physical space, which will open in the fall, will
include networking and professional development rooms equipped with updated
technology and a space for one-on-one career coaching for students and industry
leaders. In addition to the updated space, the grant will provide students a
professional development and hospitality industry engagement plan that will be
the focus of the center and encompassing the following:
“This investment will significantly enhance the ability of
the School of Hospitality Leadership to offer generations of diverse students a
competitive advantage of academic preparation and professional development,
befitting one of the best applied hospitality management programs in the
nation,” said Johanson, who is also an associate dean at DePaul’s Driehaus
College of Business.
- Individualized mentoring
and career guidance.
- Customized internship
- Leadership and soft skill
seminars with workshops to include etiquette training and international
service culture training.
- Networking events with
programs to engage students with alumni and industry leaders.
generation’ of hospitality leaders
The hallmark of the programming of the new center, which
will be led by assistant professor Nicholas Thomas, is one-on-one
individualized mentoring and career planning with the goal of creating innovative,
comprehensive approaches to forming and educating the next generation of
The curriculum of the center will create, integrate and
expand student development and engagement activities. The new center will also introduce
processes for guiding and assessing each individual student’s development of knowledge,
competencies, skills and dispositions sought in a successful hospitality industry
professional, Thomas said.
The School of Hospitality Leadership, which launched in 2010
and is housed in DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business, is one of the nation’s
leading business programs. The school developed an industry reputation as a
leader in training students with a customized and innovative industry-endorsed
A 2015 study by the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism
Education found DePaul’s School of Hospitality Leadership to be the top-rated
most recognized program in Illinois. The study evaluated the status, challenges
and opportunities of hospitality programs in the state and used DePaul's
program as its benchmark due to its significant growth over the past five years
as a result of a well-structured curriculum and increased visibility of the
program on campus and in the local community.