A new course in West Virginia Universitys College of Business and Economics will open doors for students and could also help the state bolster its work force.

Hotel/Hospitality Management, offered for the first time this semester, is a culmination of ideas that involve area businesses and WVU .

The coursewhich incorporates tourism, one of the states leading industriesreceived a boost when the Waterfront Place Hotel offered use of its facility and staff to give students an inside look at the business.

The state is always looking for ways to promote tourism, and it is a natural to consider how WVU could take a lead role in that endeavor,said Joyce T. Heames , WVU assistant professor and co-instructor.And the students are always interested in unique, creative opportunities. I think weve really filled a need with this class.

The course is an upper-level management elective open to business majors. Students meet weekly at the Waterfront and listen to lectures and take tours of the various hotel departments such as sales and marketing, front desk, housekeeping and the hotel restaurant.

It works in conjunction with a textbook, but students also get hands-on learning about the different aspects of hotel operations,said Frank DeMarco, Waterfront manager of operations and co-instructor.

Dan Watts, Waterfront general manager, added:We are excited to be part of WVU s inaugural hospitality course and look forward to the Waterfront Place Hotel being a key partner for this initiative. The tourism industry in West Virginia is a tremendous source of economic benefit for the entire state, and an opportunity to develop a quality work force for that industry is important.

Heames said many of the 25 students in her class have worked in the service industry, particularly restaurants, and the course has generated considerable positive feedback.

Its exciting to be doing something thats being offered for the first time, and its something I want to do in life,said Nick Vranizan, a senior business management and French major from Seattle.I was happy to hear they were offering this course, and its been very enjoyable.

Vranizan and several other students in the class have worked in the hospitality industry. Over the summer, he was a pier agent for a cruise line. On campus, he works in the Starbucks at the WVU Bookstore .

Some students hadnt considered a career in the service industry before taking the class, however.

I hadnt thought about it before, but I definitely am now,said Allison Facius, a senior business management major from Ellicott City, Md.I love working with people and a desk job isnt something that fits me, so this class has opened up a lot of possibilities for me.

Students are also visiting the Stonewall resort in Roanoke and a local restaurant this semester. Heames said the course is intended to give students a broad overview of the service industry, including management of restaurants, resorts, bed and breakfasts and a variety of hotels, from a five-star hotel that is part of a national chain to a small, family-run hotel.

She hopes the course will eventually develop into a program or major.