MURFREESBORO — An MTSU marketing professor has earned credentials to teach college students about the burgeoning hospitality industry.
The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute has designated Virginia Hemby-Grubb, a marketing professor, to be a certified hospitality educator.
Certification criteria included knowledge of learning theory, establishing a positive classroom culture, classroom presentation methods, general classroom communications, interactive teaching methods and analysis of a case study.
The type of professional meeting, event, exhibition and convention management courses that Hemby-Grubb teaches at MTSU are affiliated with hospitality management programs at most universities.
“Having a Certified Hospitality Educator designation is important when teaching courses that relate directly to that industry,” said Hemby-Grubb.
The professor said she undertook the professional development course because occupational trends reveal that the hospitality business is one of the fastest growing in both Tennessee and the United States as a whole.
Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics project a 41 percent increase in the number of meeting, convention and event management jobs in Tennessee in 2022 and a 33 percent increase in those same jobs in the country at large.
In fact, the bureau last year moved hospitality out of its tourism category and into its business and finance category because the industry has become so lucrative.
“This is obviously an area that we (in higher education) need to look at developing, and we need to do it in such a way that we bring in the right people to help us do this,” said Hemby-Grubb.
After meeting with Elisa Putman, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Music City Center in Nashville, Hemby-Grubb said she learned that Putnam went to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, for professional development.
Butch Spyridon, chief executive officer of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, told Hemby-Grubb that colleges and universities should consider adding a hospitality major with a marketing concentration or minor to their degree tracks.
“Secondary education has a hospitality module in its career and technical ed program,” she said. “Students can take courses in hospitality, one of which is meeting, event, exhibition and convention management.”
Hemby-Grubb suggests enabling college students to engage in experiential learning in the business and then they would be able to take the certification test to become Certified Meeting Planners while still in college.
“Students would be able to sit for the exam after three years of work in the field, and … that CMP designation elevates them significantly in terms of job success and achievement,” said Hemby-Grubb.