“We use an integrated, business-oriented approach to hospitality education because our industry’s organizations must be operated with basic business principles.”
No matter what position a person has in hospitality – a food service manager, an events director, hotel operator – a broad range of skills are integral for a successful career path in that field.
“Effective hospitality leaders require an incredibly broad and deep range of knowledge and skills which must then be focused in a specific manner to address industry challenges,” said Ninemeier, a retired professor in The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University.
The integrated nature of MSU’s hospitality program and its focus on the business of hospitality makes it a good fit for people seeking to enter the hospitality field, as well as professionals interested in career advancement as part of an organization or to make their mark as leaders.
Ninemeier spoke with us about Michigan State’s 100% online hospitality management programs and how they provide in-demand knowledge and skills that help students succeed in the hospitality industry.
Tell us about your background and how you developed an interest in Hospitality.
When I started college at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I began working at the University Center as a baker’s assistant, and the facility had a food management contract with ARA-Slater Services (now Aramark). The facility happened to serve as a regional training center for many “just graduated from college” individuals working for the management company. Most were almost my age, and I had numerous contacts who shared their excitement about the hospitality industry and the careers they would enjoy in it.
Their perspectives prompted me to begin a major in Administrative Dietetics, the closest discipline to the hospitality industry then offered at SIU. I enjoyed the program very much, completed two internships, and remained in the management company position until I graduated.
I went on to Iowa State University for a master’s degree that, in part, involved research on training programs for school food service employees, and then accepted a position with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction that administered child nutrition programs for more than 350,000 children. While there, I completed a PhD program at University of Wisconsin Madison with my research focusing on school food service programs.
My first professional position in higher education occurred when the University of New Orleans College of Business began offering a Hospitality Business degree. During the several years there I taught food service management courses and conducted related research.
What attracted you to MSU?
The School of Hospitality Business has long enjoyed a reputation for excellence and was well-known in the 1960s when I began my college education. One of its faculty members (Dr. Lendal H. Kotschevar) authored many of the textbooks I used in college classes and this further enhanced the School’s reputation for me. Additionally, the MSU campus was home to the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (EI) which had retained me for numerous writing and research projects. It was a natural fit because I could have lodging industry data and contacts to help me with course content and research.
How does MSU’s 100% online certificate program prepare persons for a career in the hospitality industry?
The advent of technology has really provided increased access to quality hospitality education programs. I remember the old days where organizations such as the EI offered correspondence courses: hard copy books were provided to trainees, and assignments including quizzes were mailed back and forth. Today’s almost ubiquitous internet access makes program availability and quality learning opportunities so much more accessible.
MSU offers three online hospitality courses: Hospitality Business Operations, Hospitality Business Management, and Hospitality Leadership. The content of these courses provides an excellent overview of important dimensions of the industry and offers a broad foundation of information.
Why should prospective students consider the hospitality certificate program? Let’s consider course content.
The Hospitality Business Operations course provides an overview of the industry and more specific information about lodging and food service organizations, private clubs and casinos, such as marketing, technology and financial planning. The Hospitality Business Management course addresses more specific information such as impacts on organizational culture, quality management, managerial accounting and supervision principles, as well as facility management and legal aspects of the hospitality industry. The Hospitality Leadership course recognizes that the industry is labor-intensive: talented employees with many different skill sets must be aligned with the organization’s goals and are absolutely necessary for success. To this end, the course considers a leader’s vision, awareness of self and emotional intelligence, leadership ethics, and strategies to lead others. Information about career planning provides a suitable conclusion to the study of leadership.
Why should prospective students consider the hospitality certificate program? Let’s consider course faculty.
The School of Hospitality Business is an integral part of the Broad College of Business on our campus. Some of our hospitality courses have prerequisites and our students earn Bachelor of Arts in Business degrees. This information is provided to establish the business context within which our faculty are selected, interact with peers, and plan and facilitate courses.
This business emphasis was a priority consideration as the online hospitality program was planned, as the specific courses were developed and are taught by The School’s faculty, and as I facilitate the courses. For example, restaurant leaders must use basic business procurement practices, but they must be revised in recognition of the perishability of the products that are purchased. Similarly, hotel managers need to leverage basic business marketing principles that must be adapted because there is no inventory: if a room is not rented one evening, the revenue for that room night is lost forever.
Do you have a hobby that provides relaxation during some of your free time?
I am a carto philatelist – a person who collects postage stamps containing maps or globes. There are about 38,000 of these stamps known to be issued by legitimate stamp issuing countries (no bogus stamps allowed in my collection!), and one stamp per day on average is issued somewhere in the world. My collection contains about 19,000 stamps (but who is counting?) with envelopes full of stamps that must be identified – there are not enough rainy days to get through them all!