In 1983, with just a single administrator hired, the University of Central Florida established a small degree program specifically designed for educating and preparing individuals for careers in the hospitality and tourism industry. On Monday, Jan. 7, UCF’s Hospitality Management program celebrated its 30th anniversary as the largest hospitality college in the United States.

Now known as the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management, the program was elevated to full college status in 2004 after originally being housed as a department within UCF’s College of Business Administration and College of Health and Public Affairs.

More than 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students currently study hospitality at UCF, making it the largest college of its kind in the nation. Consistently, 95 percent of graduates find work in the hospitality industry, and most of them serve the Central Florida tourism industry.

“Students from throughout the globe choose to study at our college because they want to learn and work in the tourism capital of the world,” said Dr. Abraham Pizam, dean of UCF’s Rosen College. “Through the partnerships that we’ve cultivated over the last three decades, our college allows students to gain real-world work experience in the industry’s most competitive market, while simultaneously learning from top researchers and industry executives. Simply put, there is no better laboratory to study hospitality than Orlando, Fla.”

The program’s rise to prominence largely took place over the past decade. In late 2000, Orlando hotelier Harris Rosen donated $18.2 million to build a specially designed campus in the heart of Central Florida’s tourist district, making industry guest speakers and internship opportunities with world-renowned companies readily available to UCF’s Hospitality Management students.

Rosen’s gift, along with state matching funds and contributions from other donors, ultimately turned the program, with fewer than 100 students and seven faculty members at the time, into one of the nation’s top hospitality management programs.

“Congratulations to Dr. Pizam, his faculty and the administration at the UCF Rosen College on their 30th anniversary celebration,” said Rosen. “It is difficult for me to express the pride I feel whenever I am on campus or when I have an opportunity to speak with a student, a faculty member or a parent of one of our students, who share with me so many kind and wonderful comments about their experience at the college. I am also overwhelmed by the extraordinary success Dr. Pizam has achieved in a relatively short period of time and I wish to thank him from the bottom of my heart for creating such an extraordinary institution.”

Since 2004, UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management has served students on a 159,000-square-foot Mediterranean resort-style campus, at the foot of the Rosen Shingle Creek resort, near Orlando’s touristy International Drive.

The UCF Rosen College campus is the largest facility ever built for hospitality management education, with academic amenities such as an American- and European-style test kitchen, a dining room area for event classes, and a beer and wine laboratory where students can become certified experts in some of the foodservice industry’s most profitable products.

Today, with a faculty of more than 50 professors and instructors, UCF’s Rosen College offers one of the widest selections of hospitality degrees in the nation, including Bachelor of Science degrees in Hospitality Management, Event Management and Restaurant & Foodservice Management. The college also offers a Master of Science degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management, plus Florida’s only stand-alone doctoral program in Hospitality Management.

Over the past 30 years, UCF’s Hospitality Management program has awarded more than 6,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees, with alumni currently serving in management and executive positions for restaurants, theme parks, airlines, convention centers and resorts around the world. Others have gone on to serve as industry research consultants and university professors. One graduate even became a finalist on season eight of Food Network Star.

“I’ve overseen this program since its inception, and what we’ve accomplished in the last 30 years is nothing short of amazing,” Pizam said. “I want to thank everyone, from the faculty and staff, to our students and alumni, and especially UCF, the community, the industry, and Mr. Rosen, for their contributions over the years. It is because of them that we are leaders in Hospitality Management education and research.”

Due to the program’s success, longevity and contributions to Central Florida’s hospitality and tourism industry, the City of Orlando and Orange County will proclaim Monday, Jan. 7, as UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management Day.

To learn more about UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, visit