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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Barton School of Business offers new hospitality major

Shelby Parscale
Woolsey Hall on May 4, 2023.

Students can earn a bachelor’s in business administration in hospitality starting this fall, joining a new degree program filled with opportunities for real-world experiences and interactions with industry experts.

According to Barton School Dean Larisa Genin, the new major has been in the making for the past two years. Genin explained the program will prepare students to fill the current “talent shortage issue in the hospitality industry” by teaching them to have a hospitality mindset.

“Hospitality mindset: it’s going above and beyond on what’s expected,” Genin said. “It’s the elevated level of customization to the customers … It’s going an extra mile for all the stakeholders involved, so that they feel engaged, valued, appreciated, understood.”

According to the hospitality program’s chief concierge, Gery Markova, the business school took numerous steps to ensure the program would prepare students for the real world. These steps included extensive research and collaboration with professionals, as well as with other universities around the country, community colleges, and local high schools.

“We started reaching out to executives and professionals to hear what their needs are,” Markova said. “We don’t want to teach them just principles. We want them to know what’s happening in the world right now so that they can work right away.”

According to Genin, the business school will continue working with other schools. The culinary schools at WSU Tech and Butler Community College are just two programs the university is planning strong partnerships with.

“I think all of those partnerships are critical to help create those pathways for the students to move into the Barton School of Business and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in the hospitality major,” Genin said.

Students at community colleges will be able to transfer into the hospitality program, and local high schools have worked with the Barton school to develop a curriculum that will help prepare students for the major as well.

“We will not teach anything that the technical schools can cover or that the high schools can cover,” Markova said. “We want our students to graduate with no debt and as many opportunities as possible and lots of skills.”

According to Genin, the new major could be beneficial for students looking to double major, and there are “plans in the near future to develop a minor” in hospitality.

“The hospitality major could nicely pair up with (an) entrepreneurship major or hospitality in marketing or even hospitality and management,” Genin said. “I think there’s a number of hospitality majors that will pick up real estate as an emphasis.”

Starting next spring, in addition to traditional classes that will teach students the fundamentals of hospitality, the business school will bring in industry professionals and executives to teach courses based on their real-world experience. 

Markova said the course will change each year to bring in different executives and offer relevant perspectives “as this industry evolves.”

“It is probably going to be taught by multiple people so that we will be on the cutting edge of what’s happening out there,” Markova said. “Students will be able not only to get jobs but maybe to create their own businesses in the hospitality sector.”

Markova is “really excited” for students to have these opportunities to work with professionals and to get experience before they graduate.

“The type of rounded business education that these professionals will have is really critical for us because the technical side will encourage them to acquire some technical skills,” Markova said. “Personally, I don’t believe that anybody should manage a restaurant if they’ve never been in the kitchen.”

Genin said the hospitality major is designed to help students enter the workforce with the proper connections to succeed.

“We’re also committed for students to not only go through the programs, but be placed in meaningful internships and job positions,” Genin said. “Quite a few employers and recruiters who have already talked to us are on standby and can’t wait to create partnerships to engage our hospitality major students.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the program and its requirements can visit the university website.

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About the Contributors
Avery Gathright
Avery Gathright, Reporter
Avery Gathright is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. Gathright is a secondary education major with an emphasis in English. She hopes to eventually teach AP Literature. Gathright uses she/her pronouns.
Shelby Parscale
Shelby Parscale, Former photographer
Parscale was a photographer for The Sunflower.

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