Entrance of The Collins College of Hospitality Management | Alexander Novoa

Cal Poly Pomona’s Collins College named No. 6 in the world in its 50th year

By Kristine Pascual, March 19, 2024

The Collins College of Hospitality Management at CPP ranked No. 6 in the world in the 2024 edition of “Best Hospitality and Hotel Management Schools” in CEOWorld Magazine.

The magazine ranks hospitality schools based on seven metrics of quality and reputation: Perceived global influence, recruiters’ responses, employers’ feedback, job placement rate, admission eligibility, specialization and academic reputation are all part of the ranking criteria. Ranking No. 5 last year, The Collins College dropped one place with an overall score of 96.29, just below Penn State who scored 96.52.

Six years ago, The Collins College ranked No. 32, rising to No. 5 last year. As technology advances and online learning becomes more prevalent, hospitality lecturer Jason Zhang plans to further shift some curriculum online. Rather than having students read from textbooks, doing research, The Collins College has students watching online lectures, case studies and animations.

“We’re bridging the gap between academics and practice,” Zhang said. “That is one of the biggest things that I can deploy in my classes to make sure we’re staying on top and staying concurrent to what’s actually happening in the industry.”

Hospitality professor Linchi Kwok emphasizes the polytechnic “learn-by-doing” curriculum within his classes. Many of The Collins College classes are hands-on learning in classrooms and competing in hospitality competitions rather than traditional assigned textbook homework.

The program offers several degrees: Bachelor of Science in hospitality management, Master of Science in hospitality management, Master of Business with a hospitality management emphasis, hospitality minor and culinology, a blend of science and food. With over 1,200 students enrolled in the college, The Collins College is thriving with state-of-the-art facilities including three buildings, house kitchen labs, seminar rooms, food and wine education center and more. The Collins College was not officially recognized as a college until 2008.

In April, hospitality students are set to attend the Inland Empire Tourism: The Regional Summit 2024 in Riverside, California. At the summit students will be networking, listening to guest speakers and learning more about the industry from professionals in the field.

“I think being active and engaging with the industry and showing them what they want to see and how we can do is helpful,” Kwok said.

Entrance of The Collins College of Hospitality Management | Alexander Novoa

One of many learn-by-doing examples at The Collins College is the on campus restaurant, Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch, which is student-managed and operated. RKR students learn about guest service, food quality and creating effective restaurant plans. Each week students rotate between various roles in both the front of house and back of house to learn the aspects of operating a restaurant.

Hospitality student David Earl-Itoga is currently working at RKR which doubles as a class.

“Collins overall has been great,” Earl-Itoga said. “The classes are easy and they’re easy to register for. Professors are always awesome, they are kind of like your best friends, they’re super helpful.”

Earl-Itoga is in his third year at The Collins College and also works at the Kellogg West Conference Center and Hotel. After graduation, he plans to begin working in the management industry and eventually obtain a culinary degree as well.

“Collins has tons of resources,” Earl-Itoga added. “They help you network, host career fairs and career readiness programs like RKR. There’s also a study abroad program, clubs, etc. to help get your foot in the door.”

With these provided resources, Earl-Itoga was hired at a previous career fair. Additionally, he has networked with employers through class introductions to companies, so when he does work full time, he has options to look at.

“Food and beverage is a common language,” Zhang said. “That’s a layer that we focus on, not only teaching what works here in the state of California, but also what works in other parts of the world and other states.”

Looking at CEOWorld Magazine’s list of rankings, The Collins College is in good company, ranking just below some of the most reputable hospitality programs. The top five hospitality programs in respective order include Nolan School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at University of Nevada, School of Hospitality Business of the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management and Pennsylvania State University School of Hospitality Management.

These days, The Collins College alumni are successful and working for reputable companies like Marriott, Hilton, Disney and Ritz-Carlton. Alumni stay connected with The Collins College community through the Collins Alumni Society with more than 5,500 members across the globe.

“We don’t have as many resources as (other schools),” Kwok said. “They teach a lot fewer classes and have more time to do research as well. We did the best with what we had. We can do better for sure but I’m happy with where we are now. We have new leadership and we’re moving in a very good direction.”

Feature image courtesy of Alexander Novoa

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