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USF joins forces with Aramark, Mainsail to offer training for hospitality students

The companies agreed to provide 130 paid fellowships over the next few years.
USF business college dean Moez Limayem, center, signs agreements on Tuesday with leaders of Aramark and Mainsail Lodging and Development to provide training for USF hospitality school students. At left is Julianne Corlew, vice president and business partner of Mainsail. At right is David Vandenberg, regional vice president of Aramark.
USF business college dean Moez Limayem, center, signs agreements on Tuesday with leaders of Aramark and Mainsail Lodging and Development to provide training for USF hospitality school students. At left is Julianne Corlew, vice president and business partner of Mainsail. At right is David Vandenberg, regional vice president of Aramark. [ DIVYA KUMAR | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published May 17|Updated May 18

The University of South Florida’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management announced new partnerships Tuesday with the food service company Aramark and Mainsail Lodging and Development for student training opportunities.

The school, which is housed on the Sarasota-Manatee campus but operates within the Muma College of Business based in Tampa, has seen rapid growth since its inception.

The partnerships further center the campus’ identity around hospitality in the way the St. Petersburg campus has begun to build a reputation around marine sciences — changes that have evolved since USF consolidated its campuses in 2020.

Mainsail agreed to provide $1.25 million in paid fellowships for 50 USF students over five years. The company runs hotels and vacation rentals, including The Karol Hotel in Feather Sound, The Epicurean in Tampa, The Fenway in Dunedin and Waterline Villas and Marina at Anna Maria Island.

Aramark will provide $2.5 million for paid fellowships to 80 USF graduate students over eight years. The company serves universities, hospitals, sports venues, prisons and other operations, providing food, facilities and uniform services.

“The hotel business has been around since Mary and Joseph couldn’t get a room, but the landscape has changed dramatically,” said Julianne Corlew, vice president and business partner of Mainsail. “We need candidates with the engrained spirit of hospitality but the training and education of a first-in-class university program combining experiential learning.”

Cihan Cobanoglu, interim dean of the hospitality school, vowed to make it the top program in the country. It’s already seen a 95 percent enrollment increase for the summer and a 75 percent increase for the fall semester, said Karen Holbrook, regional chancellor at the Sarasota-Manatee campus.

As the region grows, the need for hospitality will continue to expand and incorporated disciplines will range from public health to risk management and cybersecurity, she said.

“This is a program of great value to the whole Tampa Bay region,” Holbrook said.

The announcement comes six months after USF signed a similar agreement with McKibbon Hospitality to help train students at the company’s properties, which include Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG hotels.

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