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K-State Today

February 17, 2016

Kansas State University, Olathe campus forms hospitality management partnership to serve the Greater Kansas City area

Submitted by Greg Tammen

A new partnership between Kansas State University's department of hospitality management and Kansas State University Olathe is bringing more than six decades' worth of hospitality management training and education to the Greater Kansas City area.

K-State's hospitality management department is in the process of hiring a professor of practice in hospitality management for the Olathe campus. The professor of practice will coordinate resources and expertise between the university's hospitality management department, the Olathe campus and Johnson County Community College, or JCCC. The focus will be to develop an undergraduate degree completion program, which will offer Kansas City area students the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree without the need to relocate.

Efforts are underway to establish a 2+2 program in hospitality management, which means students will attend JCCC for two years and then seamlessly transition to K-State Olathe to complete a bachelor's degree with only two more years of coursework.

K-State's hospitality management department is the only program in Kansas that offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in hospitality management and also is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration. In addition, the program is ranked among the 20 best hospitality programs in the U.S.

"We are excited to bring Kansas State University's hospitality management program to the Olathe campus and Greater Kansas City," said Melody LeHew, interim head of the hospitality management department. "We look forward to collaborating with JCCC to offer an accessible degree program as well as developing strong hospitality industry partnerships in the Greater Kansas City region to give our students important learning experiences."

An example of industry partnership is the collaboration of Kansas State University and Heart of America Group, which is in the early stages. Heart of America Group — a Midwest hospitality management organization that designs, builds and manages restaurants and hotels — will provide applied learning experiences in their facilities for K-State Olathe students. In addition, Heart of America Group will have access to industry training and educational opportunities offered through the university.

"We're excited to provide Kansas State University hospitality students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in their field," said Mike Whalen, president and CEO of Heart of America Group. "By mentoring these students and participating in the educational and training opportunities now available, our staff also will grow through this partnership." 

The Greater Kansas City area is one of the fastest growing regions for hospitality management. In January, an Embassy Suites by Hilton that was developed by Heart of America Group opened in Olathe. 

"The partnership with the Heart of America Group is an exciting example of how Kansas State University and its Olathe campus can expand learning opportunities for students as well as strengthen industry through relevant training and educational opportunities," said Ralph Richardson, interim dean and CEO of Kansas State Olathe.

The growing presence of Kansas State University's hospitality management in the Greater Kansas City area also will be spotlighted at the 2016 International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education, or ICHRIE, Central Federation Conference, which will be hosted at Kansas State Olathe in April.