UW-Platteville, UW-Stout to offer associate’s degree in hospitality and tourism

UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County Campus

To further serve the needs of employees and employers in Southwest Wisconsin, UW-Platteville and UW-Stout will form a partnership starting in Fall 2021 – offering a new associate’s degree in hospitality and tourism centered at UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County, joined with a pioneering transfer path available for students who want to continue toward a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant, and tourism management from UW-Stout’s nationally-recognized program.

The Associate of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management will combine UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County courses in accounting, economics, and required general education, with seamless enrollment in online courses in hospitality-focused operations, employee relations, and business practices from UW-Stout. Associate degree students will also complete an internship with an industry employer.

“With the Wisconsin Dells, one the Midwest’s largest hotel and tourism destinations less than 10 miles up the road, we’re eager to offer this new degree for students to expand their studies, and their employment opportunities,” said Dr. Michael C. Compton, assistant provost for branch campus operations at UW-Platteville and acting dean of the Baraboo Sauk County branch campus.  Students who complete the associate’s degree from UW-Platteville will have guaranteed admission to UW-Stout’s Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management program, either on campus, or online, if they wish to continue, according to Compton. “The Associate’s degree gives an important foundation of skills and knowledge to take right into the workforce in one of the area’s largest business sectors, while also laying the groundwork for further education.”

According to the State Department of Tourism’s most recent economic impact study, consumer spending on tourism in Sauk County in 2019 was $1.14 Billion, directly supporting over 11,500 jobs.

The UW-Stout School of Hospitality Leadership started in 1968, making it one of the longest-established and most highly regarded programs in the world, and has been offering a fully-online bachelor’s degree since 2016.  Expanding access to UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County students will broaden the program’s reach even more, according to the school’s Chair Dr. Eric T. Brey. 

“We look forward to working together with UW-Platteville to support our industry and expand opportunities in hospitality and tourism for students living and working in and near Sauk County – and bringing more students access to UW-Stout’s expertise, experience and dedicated faculty,” said Brey.

Reaching students living and working away from the campus in Menomonie is a priority for UW-Stout, reports Dr. Maria Alm, interim dean of the UW-Stout College of Education, Hospitality, Health, and Human Sciences. 

“Our bachelor’s degree has been available fully online for many years, and now with this associate’s degree and partnership with UW-Platteville, focused in one of Wisconsin’s most important tourist destinations, students working or seeking work in hospitality and tourism will be able to draw on the strength of both universities to advance their careers,” said Alm. 

Students who complete the associate’s degree will be guaranteed admission into the concluding two years of the bachelor’s degree program, either on campus on online.  

Dr. Wayne Weber, dean of the UW-Platteville College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture, sees the launch of the new associate’s degree as an exciting chance for UW-Platteville to expand its ability to serve the needs of the whole region. 

“By centering this program at our Baraboo Sauk County campus, we can make even more of an impact with our own core strength of business education,” said Weber. “The leaders in the area made clear right away that they hoped for education opportunities focused on their existing needs and goals for further expansion, and I am excited by the chance to start this new degree program to help address that.”

The collaborative enthusiasm both universities have brought into the months of planning behind the new partnership has been very gratifying as well, according to Weber. 

“UW-Stout has a tremendous program, and working with them on development of this associate’s degree has been a great opportunity to integrate our strengths into something new, that will offer real benefits to students, and to the businesses they do, and will, work for,” said Weber.

The hospitality and tourism degree will be the fourth new Associate of Science degree launched at UW-Platteville since the Baraboo Sauk County and Richland campuses became branch campuses of UW-Platteville in 2018.  Associates degrees in business administration, and food and agriculture started in Fall 2019, and another in pre-engineering began accepting students in Fall 2020.  Those degrees offer guaranteed admission to bachelor programs at UW-Platteville, while the hospitality and tourism degree is the first direct agreement to guarantee admission between a branch campus and anther university’s program in the UW System.  Leaders from UW-Platteville and UW-Stout will come together for an official announcement and signing ceremony for the joint agreement when gatherings can safely resume.