CSU Launches Initiative to Bolster Hospitality Industry as Career Path

CSU Launches Initiative to Bolster Hospitality Industry as Career Path
Collins College Dean Andy Feinstein speaks at the inaugural meeting of the CSU Hospitality Industry Advisory Board.
CSU and industry leaders discuss trends in the industry and workforce expectations.

The California State University has initiated a Hospitality Industry Initiative that aims to provide an uninterrupted supply of hospitality leaders in California. The initiative encourages strong ties among industry leaders and educators to prepare the next generation of managers and leaders for the industry and create excitement about career opportunities in hospitality.

“Hospitality is an important industry to the Golden State,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “In California, the industry accounts for more than five percent of the state's GDP and provides jobs for approximately 10 percent of the workforce. Recognizing its economic impact, the CSU is partnering with industry leaders to find solutions to keep the sector thriving in the global economy and increasing the number of CSU graduates who join its workforce.”

The CSU and industry leaders held the inaugural meeting of the Hospitality Industry Advisory Board on May 29 to discuss trends in the industry and workforce expectations. Joining Chancellor Reed and CSU faculty for the inaugural meeting were 11 senior industry executives, who are providing advice on hospitality management education in the CSU.

“We support this initiative to help ensure that the California State University provides us with hospitality graduates who are prepared to lead,” said Jeff King, chair of the initiative and co-founder of King's Seafood Company. “There has been a maturation of this academic discipline that has paralleled the development of our industry. We understand the value of qualified managers, and, in this industry, regardless of the economy, there will always be opportunities for educated professionals who have the knowledge and skills to build thriving organizations.”

The CSU first began offering hospitality management courses in the early 1970s at Cal Poly Pomona. Since then, there has been tremendous expansion at CSU campuses statewide. Today, four CSU campuses — Cal Poly Pomona, San Diego State, San Francisco State and San Jos State — grant bachelor's of science degrees in Hotel and Restaurant/Hospitality Management, and 10 other campuses offer an emphasis within another discipline or major.  

“Students need to gain a combination of literacies to address and solve the issues confronting the industry,” said Caroline Beteta, CEO of the California Travel & Tourism Commission and a member of the advisory board. “These literacies include critical thinking, verbal, written, and data analysis skills, strategic orientation and the ability to see the big picture.”

Industry leaders also said that recent graduates are bringing to the workplace much appreciated technology skills that add value to management functions and global communications.

To help build demand for the hospitality management profession, faculty leaders from the 14 CSU campuses that offer degrees or emphasis in hospitality management are discussing better ways to streamline the transfer process between community colleges and universities.

“As educators, we have a direct role in shaping the future of this industry through our students, and we must assure our efforts are aligned with the needs of industry,” said CSU Director of Hospitality Management Education Dr. Andrew Hale Feinstein, who is also dean of Cal Poly Pomona's Collins College of Hospitality Management.

Hospitality encompasses travel, tourism, lodging, foodservice, meeting and convention services and sports membership clubs. In the United States alone, hospitality is a $1.3 trillion industry that provides more than 13.6 million jobs nationwide.

“The California restaurant industry alone accounts for 1.4 million employees … and that's just one component of the hospitality industry,” said Jot Condie, CEO of the California Restaurant Association.  ”There will always be a need for quality talent … trained in the field … who are educated, who can climb the corporate ladder. … You can't find that kind of quality unless you're gaining access to potential employees from institutions like the CSU system.”

CSU Hospitality Industry Advisory Board:

  • Bob Alter, Executive Chairman and CEO, Sunstone Hotel Investors 
  • Bruce Baltin, Senior Vice President, PKF Consulting 
  • Caroline Beteta, CEO, California Travel and Tourism Commission 
  • Paul J. Brown, President, Global Brands and Services, Hilton Hotels Corporation  
  • Jim Burba, President, Burba Hotel Network 
  • Jot Condie, CEO, California Restaurant Association 
  • Tom Davin, CEO, Panda Restaurant Group 
  • Daniel Haag, President, Sysco Los Angeles 
  • Jeff King, Co-Founder & Chairman of King's Seafood Company 
  • Mark S. Liberman, President, LA, Inc. (Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau) 
  • Lynn S. Mohrfeld, President & CEO, California Hotel & Lodging Association 
  • Robert Martin, Tribal Chairman The Morongo Band of Mission Indians 
  • Dr. J. Michael Ortiz, President, Cal Poly Pomona 
  • Julia Stewart, Chair and CEO, DineEquity, Inc. 

Participating CSU campuses:


East Bay



Long Beach

Monterey Bay




San Diego

San Francisco

San Jose

San Luis Obispo