FGCU resort and hospitality program change terminates faculty jobs

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

Big changes are coming to a program that boosts our local economy. FGCU wants to improve its resort and hospitality program. While the university says it’s not eliminating it, some people will be without a job.

FGCU announced it will be integrating the hospitality program with the business college.

But many former students said terminating faculty members who have years of experience will cause the university to lose big connections to the industry.

“You never want to hear that the place that you graduated from, that you invested a lot of time in, a lot of effort in, is reshuffling in this kind of matter,” former FGCU student Mark Pergonelli said.

Pergonelli and others who said FGCU hospitality program shaped their career skills are left wondering how FGCU’s sudden decision to revamp the program will impact Southwest Florida.

“It’s going to hurt,” Pergonelli said.

As a big tourism destination, many hotels and resorts in the area give internships that can turn into job opportunities.

”Notable hospitality schools also had interns there, and I was one of two people that was offered a job afterwards,” former FGCU student Craig Poe said.

Some of the professors who helped Poe get where he is today are set to be let go as part of the changes to the degree program. Some of the faculty members were given notice a year in advance of their termination.

”That’s a real shame,” Pergonelli said. “Because you know with the faculty members, they’ve also built a reputation in the community with a lot of the local managers and things like that from the resorts, from the country clubs. So loosing that connection is definitely going to hurt.”

FGCU said the school isn’t reducing the program but instead strengthening the resort and hospitality management program. University officials said the changes were necessary after enrollment and the number of degrees awarded in the program fell last year.

The Ritz Carlton hotel in Naples told us it took on 50 interns with FGCU’s program this year. The hotel had a partnership with the program for over 10 years, and it hopes to see the program continue to thrive.

“I hope they come to their senses and keep it the same,” Pergonelli said.

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