Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, has named its new School of Hospitality Management for Bob Billingslea, a retired executive of the Walt Disney Company. Billingslea was employed by Disney for 40 years and served as vice president of corporate urban affairs and development.
Billingslea, a graduate of Kent State University in Ohio, was in charge of recruiting and mounted an effort to bring graduates of historically Black colleges and universities into the Disney family of companies. In 1986, he met with the president of Bethune-Cookman and presented him with a plan to establish a hospitality management program at the HBCU. The degree program was begun later that year. The next year Billingslea was appointed to the board of trustees at Bethune-Cookman.
Students at the new Bob Billingslea School of Hospitality take a combination of lodging, food and tourism courses, in addition to other relative business classes on the road to a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. In addition, students are required to complete two internships to gain real-world experience. In addition to Disney, companies partnering with the university in internship programs include Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, and Sodexo.
Degree programs in addition to the bachelor’s in hospitality management are expected to be added in the near future.