CMU hotel land lease gives hospitality program boundless opportunity

President Ross donates pay raise to create a scholarship for the CMU School of Music
CMU Board meeting Dec. 5, 2013

The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees today authorized President George E. Ross to finalize a land lease with a local hotel management firm that plans to construct a Courtyard by Marriot hotel adjacent to Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

The agreement with Mount Pleasant Hospitality LLC, also known as Lodgco, provides the university with an average $175,000 annual rent for the first 30 years of the lease and $200,000 per year after that. The university will have no investment in building or maintaining the facility but will gain significant academic opportunities for students in the CMU hospitality administration services program.

Gary Gagnon, marketing and hospitality services administration faculty member, calls the partnership “the perfect educational model.” It will create a teaching and learning hotel by serving as an on-campus hospitality laboratory. The experiential learning will provide industry exposure for CMU business, hospitality and marketing students through academic studies, part-time work experiences and full-time internships.

“CMU hospitality students will be given preference in hiring for hourly positions,” said Gagnon. “These same students will then be considered for paid internships. In addition to the Courtyard by Marriott, the internships will allow students to gain operational experience at Lodgco’s other 16 properties, including the Hampton Inn in Mount Pleasant and two Midland facilities.”

Other highlights of the agreement include research opportunities for CMU students and faculty, guest speakers from Lodgco management in CMU hospitality classes, use of the new hotel for hospitality student meetings, and documentation of the facility’s construction as an educational tool for future students.

“Earning a CMU College of Business Administration degree in hospitality with a blend of academic and real-world occupational preparation will provide our graduates with a significant competitive advantage in the job market,” said Gagnon.

The board also issued a positive evaluation of President Ross’ performance during the past year and awarded him a 2 percent salary increase, bringing his annual salary to $371,280. Ross thanked trustees for their endorsement and said a successful university reflects not just one person, but all faculty, staff and students.

Ross also announced that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would donate the funds to the CMU School of Music to establish a vocal music scholarship in Mrs. Ross’ name.

In other board action, trustees:

  • Approved a $4.7 million project to upgrade the fire alarm and fire suppression system in the South Quad Residential Complex, which includes Thorpe, Beddow, Sweeney and Merrill Halls;
  • Authorized the approval of six new charter schools;
  • Elected William Kanine of Petoskey as chair, and Sarah Opperman of Midland and John Hurd of Petoskey as the boards vice chairs.
  • Heard an update from President Ross on university accomplishments and initiatives from the past two months and how they align with CMU’s strategic priorities. Text of the president’s full comments can be read here.