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First Hospitality & Tourism Management students to earn degrees next month

Nearly one year to the day that B&E’s Hospitality and Tourism Management major was approved by the WVU Board of Governors, the program’s first graduates will walk across the commencement stage. 

David “D.J.” Scarton and Gary Romano will earn their degrees next month.

The curriculum, previously offered at B&E as an area of emphasis with a core of four courses, became a full major in the Fall 2014 semester.

“The driving force in building the Hospitality & Tourism Management curriculum has been its importance in West Virginia and to the West Virginia economy,” said Dean Sartarelli. A 2012 economic impact study showed that travel generated $707 million in state and local tax revenues and employment of 46,400 people.

Frank DeMarco, teaching assistant professor and Hospitality & Tourism Program Coordinator, is absolutely thrilled.

“It’s great to see D.J. and Gary work really hard to meet the requirements to graduate with the full degree this fall,” DeMarco said. “It’s been a fun ride; a great team effort by the administration, faculty and staff. We all worked together very quickly to turn (H&T) from an area of emphasis into a major in less than three years.”

DeMarco was particularly complimentary of the College’s Hospitality & Tourism advisory board, filled with industry leaders from a variety of backgrounds.

“We’re always looking for new ideas and are trying to stay ahead in an industry that continuously changes. Our advisory board is able to tell us what’s happening in the place of business so we can keep educating our students with the right material,” DeMarco said. “They’ve also been very willing to help our students with career opportunities and internships.”

The curriculum requires the completion of at least two internships to ensure that students are truly career-ready after graduation. That requirement has been invaluable to soon-to-be graduate D.J. Scarton, who has completed internships at Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, the Waterfront Place Hotel, and as a special events planning intern for B&E. Romano is a manager-in-training at the renowned Nemalcolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania.

WVU Hospitality & Tourism Management senior D.J. Scarton interning at Taziki’s Mediterranean Café at the Mountain Lair

“Professor DeMarco pushed me (to go the H&T route); he said there were some big changes coming,” Scarton said. Although he experienced a twinge of hesitation when switching majors from management to H&T, he’s ultimately glad he did. “It’s given me real life experience. Our professors are able to give us both an operations and a research viewpoint of the industry. I have a very good base right now, and it’s going to benefit me in the long run,” said Scarton, who aspires to work in the cruise industry one day.

DeMarco anticipates that anywhere between six and 10 additional students will graduate with the Hospitality and Tourism Management degree in Spring 2015. The program is focused on growing enrollment and hopes to have 50 students enrolled by the Fall 2016. 

A lot of people, Scarton and Romano included, believe this bodes well for a bright future.

“When I came to WVU, (Hospitality & Tourism) was a field I wish the school offered. I was really excited when it became a full major. It took a lot of hard work, but I’m glad it’s finally taking off. It’ll be exciting to see how it progresses,” Romano said.