Home Field Advantage
UNO’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration educates the best and brightest for NOLA’s largest industry
Located minutes away from the French Quarter, the epicenter of tourism in New Orleans, the University of New Orleans’ (UNO) Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism (HRT) Administration is preparing future industry leaders one practice reservation at a time.
UNO’s HRT offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in hotel, restaurant and tourism administration, as well as an executive online master of science in hospitality and tourism management. These degree programs provide an important pipeline for training personnel in New Orleans.
“The HRT program provides a much needed workforce for hotels, restaurants, convention centers and many other tourism-related businesses,” said Dr. Kim Williams, director and graduate coordinator of the program. “Over 80 percent of undergraduate and 90 percent of graduate students work full-time while attaining their degrees. This supplies an immediate workforce to the industry prior to the completion of the HRT degree.”
The degrees prepare students for a wide variety of roles within the sector, and the training is viewed by employers as a valuable asset for career advancement.
“The industry recognizes the education that our students receive and that we are a management training program that is focused on providing well-trained students who are ready for management positions,” said Williams. “We boast 100 percent placement of students upon graduation.”
The HRT program is supported in part by a collaboration with the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association’s (GNOHLA) Hospitality Education Foundation.
Last December GHOHLA announced they had donated a major gift — a $75,000 grant that will fund improvements to the HRT laboratory. The gift represents the first major commitment since the launch of the UNO Foundation’s $2.5 million capital campaign.
According to Williams, improvements to the HRT lab will include a simulated hotel front desk and lobby, a beverage lab, an additional dining room and office conversions. Just as a chemistry lab prepares science students for their careers, the labs give students the settings and tools to obtain hands-on experience in hospitality roles.
Support from GHOHLA is crucial to enhancing the HRT program. Williams said both this and future gifts will help UNO meet its goal of quadrupling enrollment in the program. Building state-of-the-art facilities will attract more students and the talented faculty to teach them.
Plans for capital improvements with future gifts include a new roof, exterior refurbishment, an atrium style entrance, a 250-seat dining room, 35 computers for the property management system room and new equipment in the production kitchen.
“We are truly grateful for the partnership that we have with GNOHLA,” said Williams. “We believe that our relationships are mutual with our industry partners. GNOHLA Education Foundation has partnered with HRT on an annual career fair, provided funding for advertising and promotion, lab renovations and student travel.”
HRT has supported GNOHLA as well by providing an annual new supervisor training for the lodging industry. The American Hotel and Lodging UNO Student Chapter also volunteers at GNOHLA events like the golf tournament and the annual industry Christmas party.
Funding the Future
Currently, there are more than 88,000 jobs in the hospitality industry in Orleans Parish alone.
GNOHLA Hospitality Education Foundation has contributed over $170,000 to UNO’s HRT (Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism) program over the past five years. The program educates students for management positions and boasts a 100 percent placement rate.
Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on BizNewOrleans.com.