The Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Education Foundation has announced a major gift to the University of New Orleans’ Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration. The $75,000 contribution to fund improvements to UNO’s Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration laboratory is the first major commitment since the launch of the University of New Orleans Foundation’s $2.5 million capital campaign.
According to UNO’s Kim Williams, director of the HRT program, the gift will be used to create a simulated lobby and front desk lab. These improvements will help students gain hands-on experience in hotel simulations, property management systems and hotel industry analytics as the school strives to enhance the structure and technological offerings to its HRT students. Other planned renovations and additions include a new roof, exterior refurbishment, an atrium style entrance, a 250-seat dining room, 35 computers for the property management system room, a beverage laboratory, and new equipment in the production kitchen.
“The improved facilities will enable our HRT program to recruit the best and brightest students to our world-class training program and serve as a training ground for future industry professionals,” Williams said. “We want UNO to be the go-to place for hospitality and tourism education, and the GNOHLA Hospitality Education Foundation’s gift is a major step toward achieving that goal.”
New Orleans’ hospitality industry is a major component of the regional economy, providing more than 88,000 jobs in Orleans Parish alone. According to UNO, more than 95 percent of students who graduate from the HRT program remain in New Orleans to continue their career. In addition to supplying students to the workforce upon graduation, more than 90 percent of graduate students and 80 percent of undergraduate students in the HRT program work full-time while earning their degree, which supplies an immediate workforce.
“Providing educational opportunities in the New Orleans area is paramount to the economy of our region as well as to the local hospitality industry,” said Tod Chambers, president of GNOHLA Hospitality Education Foundation. “By contributing to higher education, we are developing leaders from within our own community and simultaneously changing the lives of these students and their families.”
The GNOHLA Hospitality Education Foundation is dedicated to creating awareness of the hospitality career path available to students in the New Orleans community by providing support to a variety of educational programs. These programs include college scholarship opportunities for students interested in career paths in the hospitality industry, as well as partnerships with institutions like UNO and Delgado Community College to help further hospitality education and develop leaders within the industry.
“New Orleans is the epitome of Southern hospitality. We have a tremendous opportunity – and calling – to not only position our city as one of the most sought-after places for tourism and hospitality education, but also to solidify our reputation as one of the world’s top tourist destinations,” said Mavis Early, executive director of the Foundation. “The Foundation hopes to invest in the future leaders of New Orleans’ hospitality industry by attracting promising talent not only from our region, but nationally and internationally as well.”
The GNOHLA Hospitality Education Foundation has contributed over $170,000 to UNO’s HRT program over the past five years.
For more information about The Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Education Foundation, visit www.gnohla.com.