FIU opens hospitality school in China
By Risa Polansky
Florida International University opened its School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Tianjin, China, Center last week, helping prepare the country for a tourism boom expected with the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, FIU officials say.
"China is getting ready for the Olympics in 2008, and by 2010, they hope China will become the No. 1 tourist destination in the world," said Lee Dickson, associate dean of FIU's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in Miami. "They're building new hotels and attractions and renovating current attractions. What they need is a workforce of management staff who understand dealing with people who come from the West."
Rather than sending hundreds of Chinese students to the US to learn the nuances of Western hospitality, Mr. Dickson said, "the alternative was to bring our school to China," creating FIU's largest international program.
It is housed at the Tianjin University of Commerce on 80 acres. The $50 million, 450,000-square-foot campus was fully funded by the Chinese government.
The school's dean in Miami, Joseph West, was in China and could not be reached but said in a press release, "Our Chinese partners originally approached us not only foreseeing a tourism boom but events of worldwide importance such as the Summer Olympics. For both them and us, this is a strategic partnership."
The China hospitality program's curriculum is the same as Miami's. All courses are taught in English.
Dean Wenjun Wang is the senior member of FIU's faculty contingent in China. Nine Chinese professors who traveled to Miami to earn master's degrees from FIU to teach in the program will be the permanent resident faculty in Tianjin.
At least five FIU professors are to go to China each year to teach three-week minicourses, Mr. Dickson said. FIU will send a chef from Miami next year to instruct food lab courses for a full term or year, he said.
Thirty-eight Chinese students make up this year's junior class, having been admitted to FIU through the same procedure as students in Miami after completing the university's standard core curriculum for two years at the Tianjin University of Commerce.
A sophomore group of 100 is finishing the core classes and applying to the full-fledged hospitality program, and 200 freshmen intend to do the same.
The 200 freshmen are the first to live in the Tianjin campus' 20-story dormitory.
FIU hospitality students in Miami will have the opportunity to take classes at the China center beginning in the spring. Mr. Dickson said 10-15 local students will do so in January.
"Hospitality and tourism are really global businesses," he said. "This program that takes Florida International University and makes it truly international prepares students for the global hospitality industry."
Modesto Maidique, FIU's president, was also in China for the building's inauguration.
"This growing program is further evidence of FIU's strong position as an educational leader on the international stage," he said in a press release. "Programs like this one are the reason why we have "international' in our name."