Students interested in the food and beverage industry can now reap the benefits of a cooperative degree program between the School of Hotel Administration (SHA) and the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
Cornell officials are hoping that the two schools’ specialties-the CIA’s in culinary techniques, the Hotel School’s in hospitality management-will complement each other well.
The program allows SHA and CIA students alike to earn a B.S. in Hotel Administration and an Associates in Occupational Studies (A.O.S.) in Culinary Arts.
“The Alliance was formed to promote educational opportunities between the two schools,” said Emily Franco ’92, director of the SHA/CIA Alliance. “They’re two institutions that are the best at what they do, so it’s an ideal alliance,”
Students complete coursework at both the Hotel School in Ithaca and at the CIA’s Hyde Park campus, in the Hudson Valley, about two hours from New York City.
Franco stressed that the SHA/CIA alliance is a cooperative degree program, as opposed to a dual-degree one, in that graduates receive two specific degrees – a B.S. and an A.O.S. – rather than one degree from two institutions. *
“The advantage of the program is that the CIA is a premier institution that focuses on culinary techniques,” said Prof. Alexander Susskind, Hotel Management, a graduate of the CIA. “A combination of that with business-focused hospitality is powerful for people who want to run or own restaurants. We have theory in culinary practice, but we don’t train chefs here.”
“For people who want hands-on technical skills, this program is for them,” echoed Cydney Peters, acting director of the office of communication strategy for the Hotel School. “It’s the culinary side of business.”
The two institutions formalized this bond after an approximately two-year alliance, according to Franco. “The idea for a cooperative degree had been out there for one to one-and-a-half years,” Peters said. In the last six months, officials from both schools made headway in the finalizing the program.
Leo Renaghan, associate dean for Academic Affiars at Cornell, and Kathy Merget, dean of Liberal Arts and Management at the CIA, were “instrumental in terms of outlining the agreement, shepherding it towards completion,” Peters said.
Franco hopes to have 12-18 cooperative-degree students each semester, but initially expects only two or three. According to Peters, however, the program has received a “tremendous response.”
At Cornell, the SHA/CIA Alliance is targeting future Hotel School students who can plan their schedule early enough to complete the required core curriculum and pre-requisites for CIA courses.
“As the program goes forward, it’s best if someone early in their career identifies this program first, and then takes the coursework, rather than makes the decision junior or senior year,” Peters said.
Meryl Davis ’07, a self-described “foodie” planning a career in the food and beverage industry, is the first student to participate in the program. She completed a variation on a core requirement, Skills Development I, at Cornell and took a course at the CIA over winter break.
She says the courses at the CIA are “more physically challenging, require more stamina, than those at the Hotel School because you’re standing four hours a day.”
According to Davis, each institution’s approach toward cooking differs as well: “At the Hotel School it’s much different because it’s science based. You learn what’s making food rise or thicken. At the CIA, it’s just, ‘This is how you do it, and it’s going to work.'”
As opposed to Cornell’s 14-week semesters, CIA’s courses are taught in three-week blocks – either from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or from 1:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The alliance also offers an immersion program at the CIA, in which students can take CIA courses such as Garde Manger and Cuisines of Asia. “It’s just a flavor, just a taste of the CIA.,” Peters said.
Potential options for broadening the alliance between the Hotel School and the Culinary Institute include course and faculty exchanges as well as access to the CIA’s Greystone, Calif. campus.