USF, McKibbon Hospitality partnership will train hotel managers sarasota

The Residence Inn by Marriott is one of three Sarasota hotels operated by McKibbon Hospitality.  Students of the USF School of Tourism and Hospitality will soon be working on the company's property.

When Cihan Kubanoglu took over as dean of the University of South Florida’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management in August, one of the questions he asked was how the college was different compared to other programs across the state.

This led him to identify a potential partnership with one of the country’s largest hotel operators so that students at his school could receive on-the-job training while pursuing their education.

That partnership became a reality in November, as USF and McKibbon Hospitality signed an agreement that will transform the school into a leader in educating the next generation of hospitality managers in the state’s most important industry.

This partnership will help propel the school to expand from nearly 200 students—all of whom are located today at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota Manatee campus—to more than 500 students spread across the Sarasota Manatee campus, St. Pete’s campus and Tampa campuses in the next couple of years, Kubanoglu said.

“It is an incredible opportunity for our students,” said the dean. “When they graduate, after completing this program, they will be able to land a management job so quickly.”

Representatives from the University of South Florida and McKibbon Hospitality recently celebrated a partnership that will see students shadow McKibbon employees at hotels across the Gulf Coast.  Left to Right: Interim Dean of the USF School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Cihan Kubanoglu;  Regional Vice Chancellor for the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Success, Brett Kimmaker;  Regional Counsel for the USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Karen A.  Holbrook;  philanthropist and former USF Board Chair, Les Muma;  McKibbon Hospitality Chairman, John McKibbon;  Dean of the University of South Florida School of Commerce, Moez Laimaim;  McKibbon Hospitality Vice President of Human Resources, Ben Home;  And McKibbon Hospitality's president, Randy Hassan.

This program will certify students majoring in the shadows at McKibbon Hospitality. McKibbon operates 92 hotels across the country. The company operates 17 hotels in Tampa and three in Sarasota.

Randy Hassan, president of McKibbon Hospitality, said the company is “fully embracing” the partnership, in part because the hotel’s CEO knows how important it is to have talented people in the industry, and how important on-the-job training is.

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