Auburn Board of Trustees establishes School of Hospitality Management, renames department

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Auburn’s College of Human Sciences will now be home to a new School of Hospitality Management.

The college is currently made up of three departments: Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management; Consumer and Design Sciences; and Human Development and Family Science.

Based on growth of the hospitality management program in recent years, the college asked that a standalone School of Hospitality Management be established. The Auburn Board of Trustees accepted the request at its June 17 meeting to redesignate the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management by granting the hospitality management program school status and renaming the department as the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

The growth experienced in hospitality management in recent years has resulted in increased faculty and expanded academic, research and outreach programs. Susan Hubbard, dean of the College of Human Sciences, said there are more than 300 undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in the hospitality management program.

Interim Provost Vini Nathan said it was appropriate to designate a standalone school now, with the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center scheduled to open this fall. The future home of the hospitality management program, the Rane Culinary Science Center will now be home to the School of Hospitality Management.

With school status for Hospitality Management, the College of Human Sciences will be better positioned to competitively recruit faculty and prospective students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, while continuing to deliver high-quality programs in partnership with the Rane Culinary Science Center and other academic units across campus.

Renaming the department as the Department of Nutritional Sciences will enable the college to continue offering high-quality academic and professional training programs in nutrition, dietetics and wellness, as well as opportunities for faculty and students to engage in experiential learning and interdisciplinary research and outreach.

The board’s decision will be reported to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

The meeting marked the first board meeting for President Christopher B. Roberts, who started his term as Auburn’s 21st president one month ago. He acknowledged university accomplishments in his report and proposed the largest compensation initiative in Auburn history.

The board initiated the following projects: 

  • To construct a new 4,000-square-foot pavilion at the Graham Farm and Nature Center in Jackson County, Alabama, for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The board also selected Chapman Sisson Architects of Huntsville as project architect. The project will create a covered patio, kitchen, meeting and outreach spaces and restrooms to expand existing Alabama Extension programs.

  • To build out the Studio Theatre and amphitheatre of the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center, or GPAC. The board also selected Wilson Butler Architects of Boston as the project architect. The firm did the original design work for the GPAC. The project will construct a glass enclosure for the 3,500-square-foot Studio Theatre so it can be utilized for performances, rehearsals, audio and video recordings, educational engagements and special events. A door at the south end of the theatre would open to the lawn, creating an indoor/outdoor space that reveals the amphitheatre stage to an audience of up to 5,000 patrons. The amphitheatre would be fitted with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system and LED screens for displaying a live feed.

  • To renovate space in the Student Activity Center to accommodate the School of Kinesiology’s new Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The work would provide instructional space, a research laboratory, offices and other support spaces to enable the school to begin the program in the fall of 2024.

  • To renovate the former Au Bon Pain location in the Melton Student Center to relocate Starbucks. The board also selected Seay, Seay and Litchfield Architects as project architect. The firm has designed several Auburn dining facilities in recent years. Starbucks will be able to provide its full menu in a larger space.

 In other matters, the board:

  • Selected LBYD of Auburn as the engineer for phase III of the Parkerson Mill Greenway project.

  • Awarded a posthumous degree, a Master of Science in fisheries, aquaculture and aquatic sciences, to David Pardo Hernandez, who passed away in May before completing his degree.

  • Elected Bob Dumas as president pro tempore and Quentin Riggins as vice president pro tempore of the Board of Trustees for 2022-23. This will be Dumas’ second term as president pro tempore.

  • Appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to serve as the university’s external, independent auditors.

For Auburn University at Montgomery, the board established a new online degree program, a Doctor of Education, or Ed.D., in educational systems, technology and leadership, with concentrations in instructional technology and early childhood education. The proposed program will be submitted to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education for review and approval.

The board learned of the following academic changes from the Office of the Provost:

Undergraduate and graduate programs in physical activity and health are renamed as exercise, performance and health; the graduate certificate in adult education is renamed the graduate certificate in workforce education, training and development; the Master of Industrial and Systems Engineering is renamed the Master of Science in industrial and systems engineering (non-thesis); the closure of the undergraduate option in fitness, conditioning and performance (offered in the exercise, performance and health optimization degree); and creating an undergraduate certificate in cybersecurity.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.