City of Lights: WKU Study Away in Las Vegas

The holidays have come and gone and we are currently in preparation mode for a great 2017 academic year on the Hill! The year is starting off quite nicely as I will be heading out to Las Vegas, Nevada January 10 -13. This trip will not be marked with pool lounging and great shows, but rather, it will be a wonderful opportunity to join a group of our WKU students who will be participating in a WKU Study Away experience in the city of lights, to explore all facets of the hospitality industry that this spectacular city has to offer.

This Study Away experience will be led by two of our faculty that teach within the WKU College of Health and Human Services’ (CHHS) Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS); Ms. Ann Embry and Ms. Amanda Skinner. Skinner and Embry will lead the students on an eight-day excursion visiting hotels, restaurants, casinos, suppliers, event venues and popular tourist attractions. The course will include exposure to management styles of various industry facilities, marketing strategies that are used within the hospitality industry, comparative analysis between various types of establishments in the industry, and learning operational and logistical management in the hospitality industry. There will also be a special emphasis on careers related to the fields of: communication, marketing, sales, recreation, fashion, interior design, event management, hospitality restaurant, and/or business.

As mentioned in my prior blogs (i.e. Experiential Learning: Students and Community Benefit), I am a huge proponent of experiential learning opportunities for our students. As a popular topic in higher education, experiential learning, which is the expression of “learning from doing”, enhances positive outcomes, including student learning, on-time graduation, and seamless transition into the workforce. This will be a great opportunity for both our students and for the hospitality industry as we are empowering students to be well-equipped for this career field.

Another exciting element of this trip, will be for the opportunity I have to visit with some of our WKU and CHHS alumni that are now residing and working in the Vegas area. It is always a delight to be able to meet up with our WKU alumni on my various travels. I love learning about their trade and how their time and career have progressed from their days at WKU.

One alumni in particular that I will be visiting, has had and continues to have a profound impact on the growth and sustainability of our CHHS Department of FACS. If you recall from my earlier blog post, Friendraising as a Form of Advancement and Development in CHHS, we honored WKU alumnus and respected restaurateur, Joe Micatrotto, Jr. and the Micatrotto family for their $150,000 gift, the largest gift received in the FACS program’s history, that was used to establish the Micatrotto Fund for Excellence in Hospitality Management in Fall 2015. The generous fund provides incredible pedagogical and service learning opportunities in the foods and catering laboratory for the Hospitality Management and Dietetics majors. On this trip, I will have the pleasure of visiting with Mr. Joe Micatrotto, Jr., whose company, MRG Marketing and Management is the parent company for the Raising Cane’s Chicken franchise, among others.

WKU Study Away- Las Vegas, NV Itinerary:

  • Tour of Grand Casino & Hotel
  • MRG Marketing & Management/Raising Cane’s Chicken
  • Marketing Agency
  • Chemical and Towel Laundering Company
  • Manufacturer of T-shirts/marketing products
  • 2nd Casino/Hotel tour
  • Tour Convention Center
  • Tour of UNLV hospitality/gaming program

I look forward to sharing with you more about my time visiting with our WKU students and alumni upon my return!

Happy New Year!



Neale Chumbler

For more information on this WKU Study Away opportunity, please visit: WKU.EDU/GO/VEGAS