HomecomingStudents in The School of Hospitality Business will soon learn in state-of-the-art facilities, with the Michigan State University Board of Trustees approving plans to proceed with renovations to update its Culinary Business Learning Lab, a project totaling $4 million.

At its December 2010 meeting the Board approved The School’s plans to create a revitalized demonstration theater, teaching kitchens, dining room, and even a new entry, which will include an Alumni “Hall of Fame.” The current facilities, located on the garden level of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, have served The School well for over 20 years as the site for several of its food and beverage operations and management classes, and as host to a variety of groups and events.

School Director and Professor Dr. Ron Cichy (BA ’72, MBA ’77) explains that the new space will “honor our past, but look to a 21st century future.” And Professor of Culinary Business Chef Allan Sherwin (BA ’64) goes further, saying, “The new Culinary Business Lab will invigorate and expand our students’ experiences and capabilities. And even more than before, companies will use The School as the place for executive education.”

A $2 million grant from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation will fund half of the project, and, with expert help from the Volunteer Fundraising Committee led by alumni Phil Hickey (BA ’77) and Richard Farrar (BA ’73), over $1 million has been received or pledged from individuals and other organizations, and over $350,000 of “in-kind” donations have been pledged or are under consideration. With additional investments and grants totaling $765,000, The School has begun demolition of the existing space, will begin construction in February, and will complete the revitalization by the start of fall 2011 semester.

Project Manager and alumnus Mike Rice (BA ’76) says that the update is critical for the education of today’s hospitality business students – tomorrow’s leaders in the global hospitality industry. “We’ve got to keep up with the times,” he says, adding, “It’s important both for the students for their learning and important for the customers we serve.”