BizBash - Fall 2017 - 19

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School

New degree programs in event
management are preparing the industry's
next generation.
By JODY CALLAHAN

W

hen the University of Central Florida began
offering a bachelor's degree in event management in 2006, it was the first accredited fouryear college in the United States to do so. Since then,
only a handful of other schools have followed.
But those involved in such degree programs believe their specialty is on the cusp of something big,
mimicking another program that was in its infancy a
few decades ago: hotel management.
"Event management studies in the United States
in the last 10 years are sort of in the place where hotel
management was in the 1970s," says Deborah Breiter
Terry, who created the event management degree
at U.C.F.'s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

"Event and meeting
management has really
been the stepchild
within academia."

Terry estimates her program has already graduated
about 1,500 people-will also help
change minds.
"In our degree, we have an entire semester that
narrows down on event and meeting contracting, on
the legal aspects. Not the things you learn in hospitality classes," explains Krugman. "But as a planner, as
someone who is responsible for the safety and well-being of a group of people, what are the types of things
that you absolutely must know and take into account
when you're contracting with a venue?"
She continues: "What a tremendous difference it
makes to be able to send young professionals out into
the workforce with a baseline of knowledge. That's really a quantum level higher than those of us who 'fell
into it' 30 years ago."
Noelle Caracciolo, a senior in event management
at U.C.F., said she discovered the Rosen College after
driving past it one day.
"When I saw that they had this program and
what classes they offered, I knew that this was what
I wanted to do," she says. "They give you a completely
rounded experience when you go into the event management program, all the way from parking to how the
laundry operates."

ILLUSTRATION: CORNELIA STILES/BIZBASH

EDUCATION

"We're probably a good 40 years behind hotel manage- trast to other parts of the world.
"In the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, it is a very
ment. [That degree] is very common now, but in the
established degree drawing enormous numbers of stu'70s it wasn't. People thought it was a vocational dedents," she notes, but adds that she's unsure why the
gree, and why would you have it at a four-year univerU.S. has lagged behind.
sity?"
Krugman suspects that the origins of event manLast year, the Metropolitan State University of
agement have contributed to the perception that it's
Denver launched a degree in event management,
unworthy of academia.
largely shepherded by Carol Krugman, former chair of
"For years, you didn't go to school for this-you
the Department of Hospitality, Tourism, and Events.
just fell into it," she explains. "Up until the last decade
"The good news and the exciting news is that it
or so, event and meeting management has really been
really is beginning to take hold," Krugman says. "The
the stepchild within academia. If there were any acafact that we were able to do that, we hope that will
demic courses, they were either
serve as a model to other instia few or maybe a concentration
tutions that might be interested.
within a hospitality degree."
We could really educate the next
Such attitudes really grate
generation of professionals."
on Breiter Terry.
And for the first time, a
"People just don't underschool in the United States is
stand this business," she says. "I
planning to offer a graduate
get very frustrated with that."
degree in event management:
Still, Krugman and others
The Jonathan M. Tisch Center
believe they are finally winning
for Hospitality and Tourism at
converts to their point of view that event manageNew York University is preparing to launch a master's
ment is worthy of serious academic study.
program in the field and start enrolling students for
"I think the reason it's become more academic is
classes beginning in fall 2018.
that it's a whole lot more complicated now than it was
"The event management field is really due for
20 years ago, 30 years ago, when I started," Krugman
more courses and more degrees, particularly if you
want to attract more international students," says Lynn says. "There's a recognition [now] that managing an
event isn't so much being able to figure out and learn
Minnaert, the academic director of the Tisch Center.
by experience how much food and beverage to offer,
"In China and Indonesia, these are huge employment
what makes nice decor, how to get people in and out of
sectors. We all want to attract the top international
the door. There's an awful lot of business involved, and
students."
Still, as many educators pointed out, there are just there's a tremendous amount of risk management and
liability involved."
a handful of event management degrees around the
Those involved also believe that the students
country-something Minnaert, a Belgian who spent
they're turning out-which is a fair number, as Breiter
years working in the United Kingdom, says is in con-



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