CWU News

CWU program responds to burgeoning worldwide employment opportunities

Eiffel Tower in ParisHospitality and tourism is considered the world’s largest industry, accounting for about 20 percent of overall employment. In response to the labor demand, CWU is launching its Hospitality, Tourism, and Event Management (HTE) program this fall.

The program, based at CWU-Des Moines, will also be available to students in Ellensburg. Applications for the 2019 academic year are now being accepted.

“There are millions of jobs available in every nearly corner of the globe, including in the Seattle area,” says Se Eun Lee, the HTE program director. “But bachelor’s degrees, like ours, are needed for many of the management positions.”

She lists jobs—especially for those earning degrees—as being available with airlines, cruise lines, lodging, food and beverage, and with marketing organizations, such as chambers of commerce and convention and visitor bureaus. Hospitality and tourism also incorporate the world’s highest number of entrepreneurs.

“So, anyone who is seeking a career in business should investigate a degree in hospitality,” she adds. “When our students graduate, the globe opens up to their wildest dreams.”

The CWU Bachelor of Science in HTE offers a specialization in hospitality management, which prepares students for supervisory and managerial positions within hotels, restaurants, and the service industry. Those interested in starting their own businesses can also develop necessary entrepreneurial skills.

The CWU program, formerly called Recreation, Tourism, and Events, was established in 1947. Based in Ellensburg, it was the first program of its kind at a college or university in the state.

“With the shift from recreation to hospitality, there was a need to work more closely with the offerings of a larger city,” Lee explained. “CWU-Des Moines is a great location. The transition was the right thing to do at the right time.”

With 50-million annual passengers traveling through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, cruise lines there serving more than a million passengers each year, and about 450 hotels in the area, Seattle is a hospitality hotbed. Lee says that will provide CWU students with a variety of hands-on learning opportunities.

“The south side of Seattle is an excellent example of how the different emphasis areas of the hospitality and tourism industry function together,” Lee added. “It will allow for hands-on learning in a student’s area of emphasis. That is more important than textbook knowledge.”

Lee has extensive experience after studying hospitality and tourism on three continents, and working with destination marketing organizations and large event management.

“I like learning about cultures and connecting with people,” she says. “Obviously, this is critical for tourism and hospitality professionals. I believe these global experiences are assisting me a great deal.”


Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,

July 31, 2019