Photo courtesy of Dan Cooper. The California Community College Association event held at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas hotel in Rancho Mirage.
BY RAMON RAMIREZ
The College of the Desert Hospitality Management Program is designed to help students interested in the industry learn about the different sectors of the field such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, travel services, management and other specialized services.
Adjunct instructor, Dan Cooper has 30 years of experience in the field. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in hotel restaurant management from Cal Poly Pomona. Cooper is in charge of teaching COD students about the hospitality industry. “The program has evolved over many years. It first started as a certificate program some 30 years ago. The program now has added an associate degree for employment, and an associate degree for transfer,” said Cooper.
The program also offers a certificate of achievement and opportunities for business courses. With the hospitality management certificate, students can obtain an entry-level position and possibly work their way towards management positions. This certificate can be obtained in two semesters.
“The program is for students working in or interested in management in the hospitality industry,” said Cooper. This program also allows students to get real-life experience by participating in hospitality events.
The culinary program and the hospitality management program are improving communication and coordination to eventually put on events so students can get hands-on experiences. “We recently assisted in putting on an event for the California Community College Association held at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Hotel in Rancho Mirage. This was arranged by Chef Jeffrey Azer, who is the head of the culinary program. There were about 600 guests in attendance. The culinary students served the food and the hospitality students acted as food runners, bussers and greeters,” said Cooper.
The hospitality program seems to have the edge over other programs. “Hospitality is the number one employer and the number one economic driving force in the Coachella Valley. Hospitality careers are far-reaching, and students seeking a degree in business, accounting, human resources, marketing and such, should also consider the Hospitality Management Certificate to stack onto their respective degrees. This would give them an edge should a position in their field open in hospitality,” said Cooper.
The future of the program looks bright, and students who join should expect to be closer towards their career goals. “Exciting times are ahead. The current plan is to move culinary arts and hospitality management to the new campus in Palm Springs. The campus is planned to have a boutique hotel and a restaurant, where students can get hands-on experience.”
For more information on the program visit www.collegeofthedesert.edu.