SPOTLIGHT ON Stowe Shoemaker, Dean, Harrah College of Hospitality, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

By Sharon Hirschowitz

Stowe was kind enough to host the International Luxury Hotel Association’s launch party for our INSPIRE’18 Summit in Las Vegas at their brand new campus and also moderate the session Insights from the Asset Managers with Romy Bhojwani and David Israel from HotelAVE. His passion for the process of learning and hospitality is palatable and inspiring as he constantly strives to transform the student experience.

What do you think is the most important characteristic of a person for success? Has this perception changed over time?
The most important characteristic that defines success is the ability to make good choices.  As Professor Dumbledore said to Harry Potter in The Chamber of Secrets,  "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." In addition to the ability to make good choices, success is based upon the corresponding behavior that defines the words: trust, honesty, integrity, and responsibility.


How has technology influenced your approach to learning
Students come to college with much more knowledge and experience than prior students. The advent of Google makes information readily available. This means that as faculty we need to move from "the sage on the stage" to the "guide on the side." In other words, it is not about giving information, it is about providing opportunities for students to understand what information they need and how to use the information to solve a particular business problem. We do this by bringing in more case studies, having students work in groups, and providing them with the opportunity to focus in-depth to topics of their choice. Our new curriculum allows for 30 credits of electives with only 55 credits of core hospitality requirements. With a reduced core, there is much more flexibility to update our curriculum as the industry changes.

How has UNLV adapted to the changing needs of students?
We understand that the college must remain nimble and forward thinking to meet the changing needs of students. We’ve opened a new state-of-the-art-academic facility dedicated solely to hospitality students and tailored to their needs. But what our students need most from us is to be prepared to enter the workforce. That is why we have continued to seek guidance from our industry partners—exploring the most valued professional competencies and then integrating them into our redesigned curriculum.

We wouldn’t be doing our job, however, if we weren’t challenging our students to discover new ways to think about our industry, to understand the problems and opportunities our industry faces, and to stay ahead of ever-changing customer needs.

Can you tell us a little about your recently opened College of Hospitality?
Hospitality Hall is a $60 M dollar facility with over 98,000 square feet of experiential learning spaces. We have a café, a 10-station executive kitchen, convertible classrooms, and a golf center complete with a 3-D biometrics lab and golf simulator. Not only is this facility beautiful, Hospitality Hall is user-friendly, with ample study and research space for students and meeting space for guests.

How does its resort-like setting prepare hospitality students for a career in the hospitality field?
Hospitality is not a job, but both a lifestyle and a mindset. In order to prepare students for this life-style and mind-set it is critical that they are exposed to what it means to be in hospitality; and, there is no better way to be exposed to hospitality than to be in a "hospitality space." A hospitality space is a place where people love to come to and hang out; it is a place that has lots of nooks and crannies that allow for impromptu meetings. Students will very quickly decide if this is the environment they want to be in. If they hate coming to Hospitality Hall, then they will know this is not the field for them and they will change majors. Of course, we hope the opposite will be true.  All this means is that when a student graduates from the College of Hospitality employers will know that this student is committed to hospitality and should be looked at not as a recent college graduate, but as an investment