New degree in hospitality management emphasizes leadership experience

Monday, August 12, 2019
Written by: Kimberly Allen

With Florida reporting a record number of visitors in 2018, Seminole State aims to educate the next generation of leaders in the growing hospitality industry. 

Conveniently located in Central Florida, a premier travel destination and home to some of the world’s best-known attractions, Seminole State College of Florida is the perfect place to prepare for a leadership role in the hospitality industry. With its new Associate in Science (A.S.) degree in Hospitality Management, the College is giving students that opportunity. 

Beginning in Fall 2019, the A.S. in Hospitality Management will give students more than a taste of the industry. It’s designed to provide real-world experience through internships and networking opportunities. The program will also offer study abroad opportunities in hospitality and selected culinary experiences so students can be well-versed in the global aspects of the industry. 

“We want to give students the foundation they need to succeed in starting or enhancing their careers,” said Dr. Cheryl Cicotti, associate vice president of the School of Business, Health and Public Safety at Seminole State. “We will be working with our hotel and restaurant partners and business advisory committee to stay current with industry trends and to ensure our program equips students with exceptional, employable skills. These partnerships will also allow our students to receive hands-on training and make valuable connections in the industry before they graduate.” 

While other hospitality programs tend to be more focused on the culinary side of the industry, Seminole State’s A.S. in Hospitality Management is geared toward the business and leadership aspects. With specializations in hotel management and restaurant management, the degree can be tailored to suit students’ interests. With either path, students will learn essential management skills in finance, customer service theory, human resources, and marketing and communication. Plus, courses in the program are offered in online and hybrid (a mix of online and classroom instruction) formats, providing the flexibility that students with work, family or other obligations need. 

Hospitality/tourism is one of the largest and most diverse industries in the world and the top industry in Florida, which saw a record number of visitors in 2018 at 126.1 million with 75 million of those visiting Central Florida, according to Visit Florida and Visit Orlando respectively. Long-term projections for careers in the industry in Florida show expected growth of 19 percent for food-service managers and 14 percent for lodging managers from 2016 to 2026, according to the Projections Managing Partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration.

Leadership roles in hospitality encompass everything from careers in front office reception to hotel and restaurant management. It’s not just the job titles in this industry that offer variety; it’s the work environments too. From luxury hotels and cruise ships to theme parks and sports venues, the options are plentiful.  

“Central Florida is a hotbed for tourism, and continues to be the most-visited destination in the U.S.,” Cicotti said. “With more visitors coming to the region each year, the demand for hospitality managers is increasing dramatically in many areas of the industry. Our program is designed to give students the leadership skills and knowledge to move into hospitality management positions throughout the region.”

Program Manager: Dr. Michael Petrillose

With a career that spans the globe, Dr. Michael Petrillose is bringing his expertise to Seminole State as the program manager for the College’s new hospitality management program. He comes to the College after managing million-dollar refurbishments of hotels in major cities like Las Vegas and Chicago. Over a 12-year academic administrative career he has served as dean for the College of Hospitality Management at Johnson and Wales University. Additionally, he brings international, real-world experience to his role to better serve Seminole State students. In his previous role as academic director for the Dubai Tourism Commerce Marketing, Petrillose oversaw the creation of a college that will provide vocational education to better serve a city with over 200 different cultures. During this time, he also analyzed and developed hospitality academic programs in Dubai and throughout the United Arab Emirates using new technology, such as interactive 3D computer games, for training purposes. 

“I understand and connect with the fundamental mission of Seminole State College as one committed to providing educational opportunities to students from diverse geographic, economic and cultural backgrounds, which resonates with me personally as the first in my family to attend and graduate from college,” said Petrillose. He believes that, as a faculty member, his job is to “connect with students, serve as a role model and mentor and build relationships on a daily basis.” Petrillose says he is excited to return to his “first love” of teaching and inspiring students in the classroom at Seminole State.  

About Seminole State College

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit
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