Educators at Bowling Green State University say they are nearing the latter stages of designing a program of coursework that will result in an unusual degree program for an unusual occupation — running an amusement park.
Since October, BGSU has been working with Cedar Fair LP of Sandusky to create courses that would result in a four-year bachelor’s degree in resort & attraction management. The city of Sandusky also is in the partnership and would help develop a multimillion dollar academic center in the city to house classrooms and provide students with housing.
“We’re pretty close,” BGSU spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said about the course curriculum.
University officials already have three core courses developed — management-information systems for resorts and attractions, legal environment of the hospitality industry, and operation planning and supply chain management.
Once completed, the curriculum will be submitted to the university’s curriculum committee for approval, then later it needs to pass muster with the university board of trustees, the Ohio Department of Higher Education, and lastly, the Higher Learning Commission, which is the accrediting body for university-degree programs.
Mr. Kielmeyer said the university hopes to launch the program in the fall of 2020 with about 200 students. As part of their degree requirements, students will have internships at a Cedar Fair park.
“The new program is designed to meet the needs in a multibillion-dollar industry sector, in which Cedar Fair is looked at as a leader,” Mr. Kielmeyer said.
The University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, working with Walt Disney World, has offered a theme park and attraction management certificate for hospitality and tourism students who complete a six-month specialized field of study.
“But where we think ours is unique,” Mr. Kielmeyer said of BGSU’s effort, “is it’s a broader approach that combines tourism with resort and business management into one degree. Some of the other programs don’t hit the business management and resort management side as hard.”
Students will spend their first two years at the Bowling Green campus or BGSU’s Firelands campus in Huron, Ohio, taking general courses. For their junior and senior years they would transfer to the academic facility in Sandusky, which is still in the development stages.
Mr. Kielmeyer said Cedar Fair will provide guest lecturers and other study opportunities at the facility in Sandusky.
Cedar Fair did not respond to requests seeking comment.
The program was the brainchild of former Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet and former BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. Both retired on Jan. 1.
Mr. Kielmeyer said it makes sense to have a program to train amusement-park executives because they have become billion-dollar operations that have grown beyond their mom-and-pop origins.
“If you look at these parks, they’re like small cities. There's that level of complexity,” he said.
“This program will bring in a broader base and more holistic approach to management. … It will be a very unique partnership between us and Cedar Fair and the city of Sandusky,” Mr. Kielmeyer added.
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