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Robert O. Forcier Appointed Chair of Mitchell College's
New Hospitality and Tourism Program

Bachelor Degree Program Complements Connecticut's Boom in Tourism



New London, Conn - August 14, 2008 - Mitchell College has introduced the first Hospitality & Tourism Bachelor’s degree to Southeastern Connecticut. It is also only the third of its kind in the state. Over the past ten years, Southeastern Connecticut has seen a boom in tourism. The area offers a variety of tourist activities including cultural events, historical places of interest, sporting activities, shopping, fine cuisine, leisure activities, and of course two of the world’s largest casino resorts. The region also provides a variety of lodging options including a beach resort, 3 and 4 star hotels, motel/inns, bed & breakfasts, and the mega casino/resorts. The large amount of activities and services provide the perfect learning platform for students.

Much of the momentum for the program comes from the June arrival of new department chair Robert O. Forcier whose experience includes 15 years in management and operations in the hospitality industry and 10 years as a manager in the Career Development Office & Hospitality adjunct faculty member at Johnson & Wales University.  

Forcier explains that employment opportunities within our state far outnumber graduates who possess Hospitality & Tourism degrees. “The hospitality industry is in need of highly educated professionals and that need has remained even through this sluggish economy.” Forcier expects that the program will quickly become recognized as a leader in quality hospitality education. 

Students can currently choose from concentrations in Hotel and Restaurants, Food Service or Event Management, with new tracks in International Tourism, Casino Management and even Eco-Tourism in the planning stages. Graduates will have training for careers in management positions in hotels, restaurants, cruise lines, private clubs, casinos, event locations, convention centers, catering, and contract dining services. 

“I don’t expect every student to be a General Manager of a hotel, restaurant, or casino,” says Forcier, “but each student will find their niche in the industry in a position that is rewarding.”

The first students in this program entered last year and will graduate in May 2011. Based on the need for educated professionals, the willingness of regional industry leaders to assist in the educational process, and the desire by entering college students for this type of program, early projections should make this program the largest in the state by 2010. Forcier expects roughly 50 – 60 students to enter the program in 2009, and by 2012, to have over 250 students in the program. 

Forcier has tapped into his vast network of contacts within the industry to establish collaborative relationships aimed at strengthening and expanding the fledgling program. Students will have access to employment opportunities, internships, guest lecturers, employment visits, study abroad options, case studies, and other industry related activities. 

He has also identified off-site learning venues and employment venues for students, such as a structured internship for Hotel/Restaurant majors being planned with Waterford Hotel Group. 

The program is quickly gaining strength through strategic alliances within the region. A Mitchell College Hospitality & Tourism Advisory Board is also currently being formed with representation from a cross section of industry executives and national, regional, and local hospitality and business associations. 

Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut President Tony Sheridan sees a great need for more tourism professionals in the region. “We are inundated with calls from potential visitors. This program will provide much needed professional development for future industry workers and leaders and the means to handle a greater volume of visitors.” 

Forcier is a Developing a Curriculum (DACUM) Facilitator who provides educational institutions and industry a key job analysis tool to ensure that educational output meets industry needs. Forcier has also developed a variety of educational resources to assist students in transition from college to employment. 

He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration, and his M.B.A. in Hospitality Administration from Johnson & Wales University.

Mitchell College is a private coeducational independent college offering bachelor and associate degrees in 20 programs of study, as well as the new Thames Academy post-graduate program. The College is dedicated to providing a challenging education in a caring and cooperative student-centered environment.  In addition, Mitchell College has transitioned to a four year athletics program competing athletically with 13 varsity intercollegiate teams as a member of NCAA Division III. Located on a 68-acre waterfront campus, Mitchell's 900 students come from 28 states and 12 foreign countries.

PHOTO CREDIT: ArtPhoto by Pietro

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Contact:

Mitchell College
437 Pequot Avenue
New London, CT 06320

Renee Fournier
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
860-701-5084
fournier_r@mitchell.edu

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Also See: FIU School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in Tianjin, China Has First Graduating Class in Hospitality of 29 Students / May 2008
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