Cal Lutheran offering hospitality degree

First SoCal private university program starts in fall

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Industry leaders who helped Cal Lutheran develop the program include Rudi Schreiner, founder and president of AmaWaterways; Alycia Harshfield, executive director of the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation; and Tom Holt, founder and CEO of Urbane Cafe. Schreiner and Holt also donated money to the program.

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Feb. 15, 2018) California Lutheran University will offer a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism management, the only one available from a private institution in Southern California, starting in the fall semester.

Cal Lutheran’s School of Management spent two years working with more than 50 industry leaders from organizations including AmaWaterways, Westlake Village Inn, Pleasant Holidays, The Walt Disney Co., Conejo Valley Tourism Improvement District and Urbane Cafe to develop the program. Many of them stepped forward to provide more than $600,000 in seed funding for a professorship and scholarship fund. 

“Support from industry professionals eager to build a needed pipeline of high-quality talent for their businesses has been amazing,” said School of Management Dean Gerhard Apfelthaler. “They have helped us put together a top-notch program that will prepare students for leadership in this important and growing field.”

The hospitality and tourism industry is a driving force behind the California and regional economies and is forecast to grow. Despite the importance of tourism in California, the percentage of colleges in the state offering programs in the field falls below the national average. Locally, Cal Lutheran’s program will provide a way for students in the hospitality, restaurant and tourism management, and culinary arts programs at Oxnard College, Santa Barbara City College and the Ventura County Office of Education to continue their education.

Companies have already committed to more than 50 internships, which will be required of students, and study abroad opportunities are also available. Labs will give students hands-on experience with the latest reservation, conference and front desk management systems so they will have broad knowledge of the areas they may oversee as managers.

Students will complete a core managerial program to develop skills in operations, finance, human resources and marketing. Company executives will present special courses and guest lectures. The curriculum will also focus on creative and critical thinking, communication and ethical leadership. The final year will cover advanced hospitality management topics and involve students in roundtable meetings with local, regional and global executives.

“The hospitality industry needs well-rounded, well-educated professionals,” said Jim Cathcart, director of human resources for Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. “I am very excited about Cal Lutheran’s program, which balances industry-specific courses, experiential learning and the liberal arts.”

For more information on the program, go to