Cayuga CC Professor receives grant to research new certificate program in hospitality, tourism

Through its Program Initiative Fund, the Cayuga Community College Foundation is supporting Business Instructor Amy Valente’s work to research and design a new certificate program in hospitality and tourism.

The suggestion to explore this area for a possible new program came from discussions of faculty and community members who serve on the College’s Program Development Committee. That committee looks at a variety of labor statistics, academic strengths, market needs, and student interests to plan for and develop new academic programs and updates to curricula.

“I’m honored to be involved in this initiative at our college,” Valente said. “It’s always fun to be involved in the creation of new programs that will arm students with the skills necessary to fill jobs in our community.”

According to Provost and Vice President Anne Herron, the committee reported that the topic of tourism and hospitality draws a lot of interest from business organizations in the Finger Lakes area. For example, the Finger Lakes Regional office of Empire State Development for New York State reports that destination tourism is one of the top 10 industries in the area. The tourism profession is expected to grow at a rate of 10 to 20 percent over the 2010-2020 decade—faster than many sectors, according to the 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook put out by the United States Department of Labor.

Last year, Valente developed an Introduction to Tourism course, and her work this summer will build on the foundation laid by this initial course. Her expectation is to develop a certificate program before September 1 and submit the proposal to the committee and the Division of Behavioral and Social Science for consideration at their first meetings in early fall.

“I hope the proposal is well-received by our College so that we may move forward with implementation of the certificate program in spring 2014,” Valente said.

The skills obtained through a certificate program will provide students with the educational background needed to work effectively in the tourism industry. Possible occupations that could benefit from this certificate program include hotel and restaurant management, tour operator, travel agent, travel promoters, travel guides, event planner, and related hospitality positions.

“The challenge will be to create a certificate program that meets committee needs while also distinguishing itself from nearby institutions with more established programs,” Herron said. “The timing of such a certificate program dovetails nicely with regional developments, including the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Cayuga Lake Sweet Treat Trail, and the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway.”

Valente’s work this summer is the first step in a process to determine whether such a certificate would be worthwhile to offer at Cayuga and how it might work as a complement to more comprehensive degree programs in the region. Should the College decide to move forward with the certificate, it would send in a formal proposal to the State University of New York for approval.

Created in 1994, the Program Initiative Fund encourages and supports faculty at Cayuga Community College who wish to develop and implement significant and innovative projects that benefit the College’s academic programs.