AUBURN – The Hotel and Restaurant Management program in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University is considered one of the most highly qualified programs in the country, having recently earned professional accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration, or ACPHA.
Martin O’Neill, head of the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management at Auburn, said the accreditation is not required of existing or new hospitality programs. It is strictly voluntary.
With more than 300 hospitality programs offered at colleges and universities across the country, less than 35 four-year schools have been accredited by ACPHA, the accreditation body for the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education.
“Not all of the schools seek accreditation or want to go for it, but we wanted to,” O’Neill said. “We wanted to be known as a program of choice by employers, students and their parents.”
The process to earn accreditation began a few years ago as part of the program’s ongoing strategic planning efforts. An internal review of the faculty and curriculum was conducted and compared to the professional standards of educational quality set by other schools and ACPHA.
Changes were made in a systematic fashion over a three-year period leading to the preparation and submission of a self-study report that was subsequently filed with ACPHA in January. This spring, three ACPHA-appointed site examiners visited campus and conducted their own review of Auburn’s program. A report was issued from the visit, which led to commission review and action to award accreditation in August.
O’Neill credited the faculty for earning the accreditation, especially David Martin, a Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate and the department’s newest faculty member. He said the faculty benefited from Martin’s experience at San Francisco State University where he was involved in earning a comparable accreditation for the College of Business.
The designation for Auburn comes just as the Hotel and Restaurant Management program will mark its 25th anniversary in January 2012 as it hosts the 17th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism Education, Jan. 5-7, 2012.
O’Neill said the chance to host the conference is significant for Auburn since it competes with schools like Virginia Tech, Houston, UNLV, Penn State, Washington State and South Carolina to be among the top hospitality and tourism programs in the country.
“We not only want to serve the hospitality and tourism needs of Alabama, but we also want to be recognized globally as a program that is known for excellence in all that it does,” O’Neill said.
And now with the accreditation, “Auburn students will be Certified Hospitality Graduates and that is significant in today’s world of hospitality and tourism,” he added.
Hotel and Restaurant Management students will again organize and host the annual Hospitality Gala in March 2012. The 2011 affair raised more than $200,000, making it one of Auburn University’s largest fundraisers ever.
(Written by Amy Weaver)