Averett University and Virginia Tech Partner for Hospitality and Tourism Workforce Summit

Posted on October 27th, 2023 by Bill Dyer

DANVILLE, Va. (Oct. 27, 2023) – Averett University and Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business joined forces to explore challenges and opportunities facing the hospitality and tourism sectors in Southern Virginia.

Through “The Future of Hospitality and Tourism Workforce Summit” on October 25, the two universities brought together nearly 75 industry leaders, policy makers, community representatives, related stakeholders and academia to gather perspectives on topics such as workforce, education and destination development and exchange ideas around ways to continue building upon the regional progress already made in this sector.

“The revitalization of Danville, Bristol and Portsmouth has created growth opportunities, especially within the hospitality and tourism sector. Addressing the labor – and related housing and support service needs – of this emerging sector while ensuring that the existing hospitality businesses are not negatively impacted, will require industry, public sector, educational and non-profit stakeholders’ collaboration,” said Starlette B. Johnson, president and founder of SBJ Advisory Group who served as emcee for the event.

The five-hour-long summit was held at Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and featured experts in academia, industry and government from across the Commonwealth in various presentations, panel discussions and breakout groups.

“At Averett, we understand and celebrate our responsibility for driving workforce development at all levels for this city and the region. We are prepared, poised and proud to partner and lead, and this Summit is one way in which we are doing just that, in collaboration with our seasoned partners at Virginia Tech,” said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “When Averett announced we were going to develop the Hospitality Management and Tourism program, our colleagues and friends at Virginia Tech were right by our sides, willing and eager to help guide our next steps based on their learned experiences in their exceptional program. Today is a demonstration of our shared commitment and collaboration.”

That word ‘collaboration’ was indeed key in the fruition of yesterday’s joint Summit. Leaders from the hospitality management and tourism academic programs from both Virginia Tech and Averett worked to assemble almost 20 thought leaders to present on varying topics throughout the day.

“Collaboration and shared commitment are the cornerstones of progress in the hospitality and tourism sectors. Workforce development, destination management and economic development are challenges for our sector that require a multi-faceted approach. Partnering with Averett University, with their outstanding commitment to the region, we embrace our role in advancing solutions for the region, for educational excellence and community growth,” said Zheng “Phil” Xiang, department head, Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Pamplin College of Business.

“I’m grateful to our peers at Virginia Tech for the continued guidance and partnership as we’ve successfully launched Averett’s program this fall,” said Averett Program Director for Hospitality Management & Tourism Thomas F. Perugini. “Our shared vision for a prepared hospitality workforce and development of a dynamic destination in the Southern Virginia region has fueled our commitment to this work, with hopes of this Summit serving as a catalyst for further exploration, dialogue and ultimately tangible strategies toward that shared goal.”




About Averett University and the Averett Hospitality Management and Tourism Program:

Since 1859, Averett University has grown and developed into a dynamic institution that serves students of all ages, offering more than 40 undergraduate majors with a number of concentrations and minors, along with 12 graduate programs with several concentrations. Dedicated to preparing students to serve and lead as catalysts for positive change, the University’s historic main campus is embedded in the heart of Southern Virginia with regional learning centers throughout Virginia and online. Averett enrolls a diverse student body, and boasts an alumni network that spans the globe.

Averett’s undergraduate concentration and minor in Hospitality Management and Tourism launched this fall for on-campus and Averett Online students. Housed under the University’s existing undergraduate Business Management program, the concentration includes courses like Introduction to the Hospitality and Tourism Industry; Lodging Operations; and Food and Beverage Management, with electives such as Casino, Resort and Club Management; and Facility Design. Students will end the program with a capstone internship opportunity with local hospitality partners.


About the Virginia Tech Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management:

The Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management undergraduate program is unique in that it is located within the Pamplin College of Business, an AACSB-accredited and nationally ranked business school. Its students are immersed in “the Business of Hospitality and Tourism,” gaining core skills in finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, international business, revenue management, information technology and digital media.

The Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management Master of Science in Business Administration (MSBA) HTM degree is located in the nation’s hub for hospitality business, the greater Washington, D.C., metro area. Housed on Virginia Tech’s Falls Church, Va., campus, the MSBA HTM curriculum was developed in close consultation with industry partners and departmental advisory board. Students pursuing either the MSBA in HTM or MBA with an HTM focus gain core skills in hospitality finance, revenue and asset management, business analytics, and hospitality real estate with the emphasis on leadership development and team building/communication.