Originally appeared in WVU Today in August, 2016
Morgantown, WV– The parent company of a prominent Morgantown hotel has established an endowment at West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics that will provide scholarships for students majoring in hospitality and tourism management. The endowment creates the first scholarships for the program, which began only two years ago.
Stonebridge Companies, owner of the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown’s Wharf District, has established the Stonebridge-Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place Hospitality Scholarship, which will provide scholarships for qualified junior or senior hospitality and tourism management students. The scholarships support study in Hospitality & Tourism Management, a new major adopted in 2014 that provides a curriculum directly related to one of West Virginia’s largest industries.
“The creation of scholarships through the Stonebridge endowment demonstrates just one more way the company has been supportive of our program at B&E,” said Frank DeMarco, teaching associate professor and hospitality and tourism program coordinator. “These scholarships will help further strengthen the program and the caliber of students in it, so this is an investment in knowledge, people and our state.”
“Hospitality and tourism management at WVU is a unique curriculum, in that it provides many different learning components. The student experience includes classroom instruction and on-site instruction at the Waterfront Place Hotel, which actually serves as a lab experience for our students. And when you add various experiential learning and internship opportunities, you have graduates that can really make a difference in the industry, no matter where they land in the job market,” DeMarco said.
The first student scholarship created from the Stonebridge endowment was awarded to Brianna Austin, a MBA student at B&E from Ronceverte, West Virginia. Austin was a double-major graduate from B&E in May, excelling in hospitality and tourism management and accounting. Having grown up in the same county as The Greenbrier, she added hospitality and tourism management as a second major during her undergraduate stint at WVU. Since that time, she has added valuable experience to her resume, such as a semester-long internship at the Waterfront Place Hotel, membership in the Hospitality Club and an opportunity to present a study to a New York City-based research firm on a competition team. She currently works part-time at the Waterfront Place Hotel, which will officially transition to a Marriott property in March.
“One of the core pillars of the Stonebridge mission is to have a positive impact on the communities where we do business,” said Navin Dimond,CEO and founder of Stonebridge Companies. “We chose to support the development of future hospitality leaders in the WVU Hospitality & Tourism Management program because it falls in line with both our mission to help the next generation blaze the hospitality trail, as well as our passion to give back.”
Stonebridge Companies is one of the nation’s leading ownership, management and hospitality development companies, consisting of more than 45 hotels with 7,000+ rooms nationwide. The company’s portfolio of properties includes select-service, extended-stay, mid-scale and full-service hotels in popular markets throughout the U.S., and represents a variety of major Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, IHG and Hyatt brands. Stonebridge Companies is privately owned and is headquartered near Denver, Colorado.
“The Stonebridge endowment is a critical investment in a growing program at our business school,” said Javier Reyes, B&E Milan Puskar Dean. “Scholarships are invaluable because they open doors and create opportunities for students who are engaged in a field of study that is important to our state and national economies. The partnership we have with Stonebridge is also important because it reflects our philosophy of ‘learning by doing’ with real life experiences for students at the hotel property.”
The endowment from the Stonebridge Companies was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion fundraising effort by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.