By Ivonne Yee-Amor
FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management partnered with Sandals Resorts International (SRI) and The University of the West Indies (UWI) to create the Gordon “Butch” Stewart International School of Hospitality & Tourism.
The new partnership — created under the leadership of SRI executive chairman and FIU hospitality alumnus Adam Stewart ’03 — creates a pathway for students to learn, live and study hospitality in two of the world’s top tourist destinations, Jamaica and Miami, while earning their bachelor’s, master’s and/or Ph.D. degrees.
The new school will be housed at the Western Jamaica Campus of the University of the West Indies, Mona in the tourism capital of Montego Bay, the birthplace of the Sandals brand. Students will have the option to spend a semester or year at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus.
The current and new academic curriculum from UWI’s Mona School of Business and the top 10 ranked FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management will be combined. In addition, students will be taught by professors from both universities and have hands-on learning and work experiences in both locations and potentially on one of SRI’s 19 resorts. Through innovative technology and by leveraging the universities’ powerful network and reach across the Caribbean and internationally, students will benefit.
The partnership became official when Stewart was joined by FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, FIU hospitality school Dean Michael Cheng; Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies Hilary Beckles; and UWI Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dale Webber to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Kingston, Jamaica.
Speaking on the significance of the partnership, Stewart said: “This partnership is so deeply meaningful and the work ahead extremely vital. Sandals has proven that what is born of this region can successfully compete against any brand on an international stage. Now, together with powerhouses The UWI and my alma mater FIU— two world-leading academic institutions — we embark upon building the world’s premier institute for tourism, the Caribbean’s economic engine. This is truly a dream come true.”
The Gordon “Butch” Stewart International School of Hospitality & Tourism is Stewart’s brainchild and tribute to his late father, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, who died in January of 2021 at age 79.
Stewart graduated with a bachelor’s degree from FIU in hospitality management in 2003 and has been an active member of the university and the hospitality school ever since. Immediately after his graduation, Stewart joined Sandals Resorts International, which his father founded in 1981. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Sandals brand.
“We are proud to partner with Sandals Resorts International and the University of the West Indies, two highly respected institutions in the Caribbean and both leaders in the hospitality industry,” said Rosenberg. “We are thrilled because we are here today in a cutting-edge initiative that promises to not only elevate the state-of-the-art of hospitality management education but will also inevitably enhance the employment opportunities and the prosperity of the greater Caribbean, of which, in Miami, we are an intimate part and proudly so,” he added.
Beckles added: “You’ll find all over the world that the finest corporations and the finest universities do reach that moment where they come together to build a new foundation for the future. The UWI-Sandals-FIU engagement is, therefore, a powerful and progressive partnership that will serve our region very well in the years ahead.”
Stewart is a member of the FIU Chaplin School Executive Advisory Board. In 2011, as then CEO of Sandals Resorts International, the alumni association recognized Stewart as Outstanding Alumnus of the year with a Torch Award during the 10th annual gala for his contributions to the hospitality industry, the community and the Chaplin School.
“I think he would be so proud in this moment that we are here gathered today to enshrine him as a great hospitality giant, a self-made individual that he became, but I think even at a larger level, he would be so proud of the vision that sits at this table, to my right and to my left, of the leadership of the University of the West Indies and of FIU,” said Stewart of his late father.
“We are so thankful to Adam for his generosity and vision,” said Cheng.” Adam is a true hospitality leader, who has followed in his father’s footsteps when it comes to business and giving back. This partnership is a game-changer for the next generation of hospitality leaders.”
The Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart International School of Hospitality & Tourism will offer a bachelor’s in tourism management and a Ph.D. in tourism/hospitality through UWI in addition to a newly developed bachelor’s degree in hospitality operations and in attractions and events management. Students can choose to combine their bachelor’s with a Master of Science in Hospitality Management or in Events Management from the Chaplin School.
While construction and curriculum plans are still in the works, students can begin applying to the program for admission in Fall 2022. Visit hospitality.fiu.edu and news.sandals.com for more details.
Stewart concluded: “My dad spent much of his life pioneering and building the regional tourism industry. There truly is no better way to celebrate his legacy than by working with The UWI and FIU to ensure the sustainable development of the region’s tourism through training and investment in our young talent. I know this project would have made him so happy and we cannot wait to cut the ribbon and officially welcome our first cohort of students.”
FIU President Rosenberg (left) joined by Sandals Resorts International (SRI) Executive Chairman Adam Stewart (center) and Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) Hilary Beckles (right) for official MOU signing in Kingston, Jamaica.
Adam Stewart, executive chairman of Sandals Resorts International, graduated from FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management in 2003 and serves on the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board.
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By Ivonne Yee-Amor