sealPurdue News

August 11, 2000

Growth of tourism spurs departmental name change

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The study of the contemporary retail food, lodging and travel industry has come a long way from its academic roots in institutional foods and nutrition and home economics.

To be consistent with the growth and evolution of the field, Purdue University's Department of Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management has changed its name to the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management. The change was effective July 1.

"The department's new name reflects the total umbrella of hospitality and tourism today," says Raphael R. Kavanaugh, professor and department head. "Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world, and our curriculum has increasingly emphasized tourism."

The name change also encompasses how the field is known, both here and abroad. In the United States, the accepted term for the industry is "hospitality." Internationally, "tourism" is more commonly used.

Today, hospitality and tourism mean much more than restaurants and hotels, Kavanaugh says. "There are more hybrids, such as gas stations and convenience stores selling a wide range of food. As a department, we are, for example, putting more emphasis on club management – country clubs, city clubs and athletic clubs – and managing time-share vacation units."

Kavanaugh sees no end in sight to the development of hybrids. "We continue to add components," he says. The department, for example, is considering adding a professional golf management program.

Despite the proliferation of hospitality's forms and vehicles, the central educational goal of the department is to provide its students with "a well-rounded business management curriculum applied specifically to our industry," Kavanaugh says. "Our graduates are business generalists with significant exposure to marketing and promotion, purchasing, finance and human resources.

"Running hospitality and tourism establishments is a business in the whole range of the term. Our graduates fill entry-level management positions with hotel and restaurant chains and corporations, resorts, and entertainment and athletic businesses."

Kavanaugh traces the awareness of tourism as a significant economic contributor to communities to the early 1990s, when research showed that it was a recession-proof source of income. In response, tourism centers became standard features on the economic landscapes of cities and towns.

"For example, the Lafayette tourism center's job is to bring more people to the city as visitors," Kavanaugh says.

Jo Wade, president of the Greater Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau, says tourism generates $150 million per year in Tippecanoe County. The visitors' bureau will release a new study of the economic impact of tourism in the county this month.

The Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management is located administratively in Purdue's School of Consumer and Family Sciences. The department has about 550 undergraduate majors and 50 graduate students.

Sources: Raphael R. Kavanaugh, (765) 494-4643,

Jo Wade, (765) 447-9999

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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