The School of Resort & Hospitality Management (SRHM) at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is flexing and strengthening to meet the needs of a community driven by tourism, director and associate professor Dr. Catherine Curtis told members of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce at its July 13 meeting. The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) jointly hosted the luncheon, which took place at Casa Ybel Resort’s Thistle Lodge on Sanibel Island.




“We look at our curriculum as something we make changes to every year,” Curtis said. “We focus on staying innovative and meeting industry needs.”




She enumerated some of the programs that the department introduced, or reintroduced since COVID, this past school year, and explained what’s ahead, including an MBA program that’s currently undergoing approval.




The school’s Career & Internship Fair has returned, with the next annual hiring event scheduled for Sept. 27, 2022, at FGCU. This year, Curtis hopes to add a speaker’s series to the agenda. Already, 21 employers have signed up, and she encouraged chamber members to get involved.




“If you’re looking for workers, you should definitely come,” she said. She also urged involvement in the school’s Camp Pineapple, which is held in June to familiarize high school students with resort and hospitality experiences at local resorts. A new initiative, Career Closet, aims at helping students dress for success in their fields.




The SHRM emphasizes the business end of the industry, Curtis said, specifically targeted for management and leadership positions. Students have the opportunity to specialize in concentrations such as lodging, restaurant and club, food and beverage, and event management. About 75 percent of the school’s graduates stay in the area to work, she estimated.




“Dr. Curtis delivered a nuts-and-bolts introduction to FGCU’s resort and hospitality program, but at the same time offered hope for the future of the industry in Southwest Florida,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “Her strong background comes from researching and educating in Florida and beyond and having served as the secretary for the International Council of Hotel and Restaurant and Institutional Education. She brings a renewed energy to the local industry.”


The next business luncheon takes place on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the Captiva Island Yacht Club. It will feature an update on Sanibel Causeway renovations by Jesse Lavender, director of Lee County Parks & Recreation, starting at 11:30 a.m. Members will receive emails about registration. For more information on sponsoring or attending the event, contact Landen Collins at 239-472-8255 or [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> .




The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting the prosperity of its members and preserving the quality of life of our community. With more than 460 active Chamber members from both islands and businesses from Lee and Collier counties, the Chamber plays a key role in facilitating communication and cooperation between business, residents, and government to enhance the economic health of the islands. The Francis P. Bailey, Jr., Chamber Visitor Center is located at the entrance to Sanibel Island and welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year. VISIT FLORIDA named the visitor center one of 13 official Florida Certified Tourism Information Centers in the state. It is open 365 days a year and provides comprehensive information about things to do, places to visit, and where to stay, shop, and dine. The chamber website <>  receives more than 1.3 million website visits per year.




For more information about the chamber, visit <>  or contact Landen Collins, communications and marketing manager, at 239-472-8255 or [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> .