These are exciting times here in our college, but to paraphrase Charles Dickens: "It is the times with the most challenges and the times with the most opportunities".
It is the times with the most challenges because hospitality education is at a crossroads. The traditional community colleges, once a source for AA degrees, are beginning to offer four-year degrees. For-profit brick and mortar institutions and for-profit online universities are also offering degrees in hospitality. All these organizations offer easier access, have strong contacts with the industry, provide what appear to be similar courses, and are often less expensive than traditional universities. Many of these institutions train students for their first jobs.
As the costs for traditional four-year programs continue to rise — due to a decrease in state funding — both parents and students look for alternatives, especially if they believe a similar education can be earned elsewhere.
These challenges require us to ask how the Hotel College can create an environment and a curriculum that transforms education from "helping students find their first jobs" to one that "instills both a desire for learning and prepares students for the challenges facing hospitality leaders of the 21st century". The answers will not only help the Hotel College differentiate itself from other schools but, more importantly, will also lead to the lifelong success of our students.
Despite these challenges, it is also the time with the most opportunities for a variety of reasons. One is that the state of Nevada has committed to help fund our new academic building. You will continue to hear much about this new building in the future. This building represents the bridge to the future because it will provide a state-of-the-art facility that incorporates the learning styles of today's student.
A second reason is the incredible support we receive from our various constituents who are not alumni of the college. The number of congratulatory messages I received when the announcement of my appointment was made was overwhelming. I soon realized they were not applauding me as much as they were showing their love for our college, their sense of ownership, and their hope for the future.
A third reason it is also the time with the most opportunities is you, our incredibly strong and proud alumni. You are the foundation upon which we will build the future. I will be seeking your counsel and insights as we begin to address the challenges facing our college and our desire to create the lifelong success of our students.
A fourth reason is the dedication of those working in our college. Each person works tirelessly to ensure the future success of our students and the industries we serve.
Finally, although Don Snyder is no longer the dean, he will still be very much involved with our college. Don started the idea of the bridge to the future with his leadership over the last three years. It is my honor to follow Don and lead the Harrah Hotel College. I also look forward to serving you — the alumni and friends of the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration.