Virginia Union University’s campus in Northside. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

As the resort sector carries on to rebound from the pandemic, Virginia Union College is expanding its tutorial offerings to consist of a hospitality administration software which is prepared to be anchored with a new, scholar-run hotel following to the Carver neighborhood.

VUU’s Sydney Lewis Faculty of Enterprise is now offering three levels in hospitality management: a bachelor’s and master’s, and an government MBA with a hospitality management concentration.

The non-public university — an HCBU, or historically black college or university or college — has been rolling out the courses around the earlier yr, with all of them fully released in time for the slide semester that received underway this 7 days.

As element of the hard work, VUU also is planning a resort around Carver that would be open to the general public and run by pupils in the program, supplying them with a true-globe training floor of sorts.

The C.D. King Hall developing internet site at Leigh and Lombardy streets, exactly where VUU is preparing a pupil-run lodge.

Initially regarded for a planned expansion of VUU’s campus on the previous Price range Inn of Richmond motel web page, the resort is now being prepared for the web-site of C.D. King Corridor, a college-owned administrative building at Lombardy and Leigh Avenue, throughout Leigh from Maggie L. Walker Governor’s Faculty.

The university enlisted Retro Hospitality, a Richmond-primarily based management group whose clientele include things like Quirk Resort, to comprehensive a feasibility analyze for the resort job, as perfectly as assist in developing an advisory board for a VUU hospitality university.

Paul Cooper

The study chosen the 1.2-acre C.D. King web-site in excess of other options viewed as, like land up coming doorway to the Sugar Shack Donuts throughout Leigh and Lombardy, Retro Hospitality’s Paul Cooper reported. That website is now below improvement for Carver Sq., a 90-unit apartment challenge from Stanley Martin Properties.

“It’ll be a undertaking that will help the schooling of the students as a result of the hospitality administration method, and then it also will have to make financial perception from a business standpoint,” Cooper mentioned, noting the resort would be open to transient travelers. “We’re conducting a really deep analyze to suggest what degree of facilities and expert services will be delivered in that resort.”

That review, slated to be sent this yr, also would identify no matter if the C.D. King building would be renovated and included into the hotel improvement, or razed to make way for new building.

Pending approval from directors and VUU’s Board of Trustees, the undertaking would involve a request for proposals from general contractors, architects and engineering corporations. A tentative identify for the project is “Virginia Union University Hotel and Convention Heart,” although the convention middle component continues to be up in the air.

Cooper said it could be 18 to 24 months after approval ahead of the undertaking is finished, placing the hotel’s likely opening in the 2024-25 timeframe. He said a undertaking charge and other details remain to be established.

The previous Finances Inn of Richmond web site, exactly where programs for an growth of VUU’s campus was announced in late 2019.

Motel web page task continue to prepared

When VUU introduced designs for a combined-use constructing to replace the previous Price range Inn of Richmond at Lombardy and Brook Street, officers explained they envisioned the building’s upper floors housing a 50- or 60-mattress hospitality administration program, with the ground ground consisting of storefronts for smaller enterprises.

Robin Davis

While that developing is no more time prepared to be a lodge, the college nevertheless programs to acquire that web site in line with conceptual renderings that ended up presented at the 2019 announcement, explained Robin Davis, dean of the Sydney Lewis College of Enterprise, who’s major the hospitality management effort together with Provost Terrell Strayhorn.

“We’re nonetheless likely to do some thing with the motel,” Davis reported, incorporating that unique ideas and a timeline for that task have however to be unveiled but the normal idea would be the identical, with academic programming previously mentioned floor-floor storefronts.

With the C.D. King internet site, Davis extra: “We just felt that that would be the greatest proximity for a hotel, simply because of the traffic and it’s not far too much from Wide Avenue, and you have the Kroger and so forth.

“Our drive, mainly because of the pandemic, is to make positive that our workforce is actually ready to ramp back again up, specially right after the pandemic is more than. People are likely to want to journey and entertain and factors of that mother nature, so we seriously need to have to talk (the hospitality administration plan) at VUU.”

Field assist

To that close, Davis and Cooper have been reaching out to resort contacts throughout the area and some others in the marketplace to get the term out about the systems, and to solicit aid and opportunity involvement on the advisory board.

Names consist of regional heavyweights this kind of as Quirk operator Ted Ukrop, Shamin Hotels’ Jay Shah, Apple Hospitality’s Justin Knight, and Eric Terry and Jim Wilson with the Virginia Cafe, Lodging & Vacation Affiliation. Davis reported she also achieved out to GMs of downtown Marriott attributes, and Cooper’s contacted directors with the hospitality applications at Virginia Tech and JMU.

Davis mentioned she’s invited these she’s contacted to depict the industry at a job advancement function prepared on VUU’s campus in September.

As for the programs’ reception so significantly, Davis stated enrollment has been growing steadily given that the bachelor’s system was launched in January and the govt MBA rolled out in the spring.

Deborah Martin, VUU’s graduate admissions and progress coordinator, mentioned the government MBA has enrolled 59 learners so significantly and is however accepting purposes.

“That was additional than what we anticipated,” Martin explained.

The combined-use creating prepared for the Funds Inn website experienced been deemed to residence the hospitality management system. (BizSense file)

Enrollment quantities for the master’s plan, which released this semester, weren’t offered, but Martin reported they are aiming for an original cohort of 10 to 12 enrollees. All of the applications are provided on the net.

Davis said the applications, while in advancement prior to the pandemic, appear at a crucial time for the hospitality industry, which she reported is battling to rehire staff members after layoffs and other cutbacks in 2020, particularly at the govt stage.

“One (executive) said they misplaced about 80 p.c of their organization soon right after the pandemic started and they had to lay off 80 percent of their workforce,” Davis mentioned. “Now, he said that they’re hoping to ramp up employing, and he has 93 positions open that he cannot fill quickly enough.”

Terrell Strayhorn

Strayhorn, VUU’s provost and senior vice president of tutorial affairs, explained the university’s hospitality management courses deliver a value when compared to others across the region.

“We’ve received likely the most cost-effective govt MBA in the state right now,” Strayhorn stated, noting that some MBAs can charge as a great deal as $70,000 in excess of the system of the software.

“In 12 to 15 months, for no a lot more than $20,000, you can have an executive MBA from Virginia Union, a historically black college or university in the United States. That’s just incredible,” he mentioned. “It’s an executive MBA, at an HBCU, in the commonwealth’s funds. It is economical, and it is obtained a number of tracks to it, together with church management.”

Laughing, Strayhorn extra, “Every pastor in the state should get our MBA correct now.”

On prime of expanding its educational choices, VUU also has been incorporating to its actual estate holdings in recent months. In addition to the Price range Inn web site, the college final thirty day period purchased an industrial warehouse developing throughout the road from its Hovey Discipline football stadium.

Correction: Terrell Strayhorn is provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at VUU. An previously model of the report incorrectly referred to Strayhorn with a title he formerly held.