TSU preparing students for Nashville’s booming tourism industry

Part 2 in a 4 part series on Nashville Tourism and the African-American Community

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Photo by: pexels.com
Photo by: pexels.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee State University’s Hospitality and Tourism program is helping students capitalize on the state’s multibillion-dollar tourism and hospitality industry.

Last year, Nashville took in $7 billion from tourists, according to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation.

TSU’s College of Business is equipping students, particularly African-Americans and other minorities, with the tools to meet the needs of the booming industry in Nashville.

“The partnerships we’ve cultivated with businesses and organizations across the city have been vital to our success as educators,” says TSU President Glenda Glover.

“From the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., to the Music City Center, to a long list of hotels and entertainment attractions across Davidson County, these community partners have helped launch careers for area university students. In return, these organizations receive ambitious, energetic young minds who help meet a growing employment need as the Music City’s brand continues to draw millions from across the globe eager to experience our rich and friendly culture.”

Dr. Millicent Lownes-Jackson, Dean of the College of Business at TSU, echoes President Glover’s sentiments that the university is in a unique position to provide students the very best education and workforce preparation in the industry.

Tennessee State University Hospitality Program (Courtesy Photo)
Tennessee State University Hospitality Program (Courtesy Photo)

“We are fortunate to be located in a city that is on the move!” says Dr. Lownes-Jackson.

“In 2018 alone, 15 new hotels and 131 new restaurants opened and Nashville was repeatedly named as one of the best travel destinations of the year.”

The College of Business dean adds that TSU’s Hospitality and Tourism program combines “rigorous academic training with real-world experience in the industry.”

Zuhair Al-Bunni is a junior majoring in business administration with an emphasis in hospitality. Through TSU’s Hospitality and Tourism program, he currently has an internship at a local hotel, and plans to one day be a general manager at one.

“The program at TSU is helping to give me real-world experience,” says Al-Bunni. “The market is expected to keep on booming. So when I graduate, I will have all I need to be successful in this industry.”

The university’s Hospitality Management program in particular gives students the opportunity to build their entrepreneurial, managerial, functional, operational, and analytical skill set to maximize their success.

Dr. David Baker teaches three different management courses in TSU’s Hospitality Program.

“We are part of the hotel association in Nashville, and one of the things they always talk about is having well-trained employees, especially at the managerial level,” says Baker.

“That’s one of the functions of the program here, to ensure that we supply the hospitality industry, in Nashville in particular, with well-trained employees who can take on these managerial roles.”

Whitney Snell is a travel agent. But she says she’s getting a degree in restaurant management at TSU because she wants to be able to better address her clients’ needs.

“I’m using this to better myself, to know what’s happening in the background,” says Snell, a military retiree. “When the clients say they want this or that, I’ll be able to say I’m aware of that, because I know how hotels work.”

There were 71,140 hospitality industry jobs in Nashville in 2018, and 15.8 million visitors traveled to the Greater Nashville area in fiscal year 2019, a 7 percent increase over FY18’s 14.8 million, according to NCVC.

“It is no secret that Nashville’s economic boom is intimately tied to its growing hospitality and tourism community,” says Marie Sueing, NCVC’s vice president of multi-cultural community relations.

“A professional workforce is critical to the continued success of this industry, and great programs such as the one offered at Tennessee State University will help to prepare individuals for the many career opportunities available in the hospitality and tourism field. Of equal importance, is having a rich and diverse workforce to ensure that visitors from all over the world feel welcome in all of our communities. TSU will play a significant role in helping to fill the need for these leadership positions throughout Music City.”

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