Stuart Mann doesn’t believe that what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas. In fact, he’s gone so far as to share his practices with the rest of the world. The outgoing dean of the UNLV College of Hotel Administration is ending his 12-year tenure with the groundwork laid for a UNLV hotel college in the United Arab of Emirates and an already successful campus in Singapore, which opened in August 2006.
With all the screws tightened, Mann will step down from his position on June 30. But he’s hardly taking a breather. He’ll still serve as professor, fundraiser and project manager for the hospitality campus—a new academic building along and a commercially operated hotel and conference center. Mann is best known for increasing the hotel college’s minority enrollment by 80 percent over the past six years and bolstering the school’s international programs. UNLV officials say no decisions have been made on hiring a new dean.
“The time is right for a new person to take over administration of the college,” says Mann, who originally had planned to serve as dean for three to five years after taking the job in 1998. At that point, he was leaving his post as director of the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State, and got a call from UNLV. “I was thinking of just doing nothing. I actually was just going to retire,” he says. But he was thrilled with the opportunity to lead a school that’s a leader in the hotel industry.
“As one of the best programs in the world, [the hotel college at] UNLV is always receiving accolades,” he says. “It’s the outstanding faculty, the quality of the academic program and the success of the graduates.”
When Mann took on the role as dean, he looked at the student body and his staff and realized that they didn’t necessarily represent the variety of clientele his students would one day serve, so he did something about it. He’s worked to increase the school’s minority enrollment by securing more than $1 million in scholarship funds from donors such as MGM Mirage, Station Casinos and Harrah’s. “Hospitality and tourism have increased dramatically, and the phenomenon has made it a requirement to understand multiple cultures,” he says.
Mann envisions a growing number of UNLV hotel colleges worldwide. “My hope is for a real international network,” he says. “The students can move from campus to campus seamlessly. When they’re done, they’ll have this marvelous world travel experience, but still have a UNLV degree having worked with UNLV professors.” Still, with such a worldly vision, Mann has always kept his focus on Las Vegas, according to Judy Nagai, the hotel college’s director of external relations, who says, “His perspective has always been, ‘What will make the school a better place?’” Nagai says Mann has really sold the school to industry professionals on the fact that students get real-world experience by fulfilling a requirement to complete 1,000 work hours before graduation. “He’s been able to bridge the gap between theory and practice,” she says. “He’s helped the industry to see and understand what’s happening here on campus.”
Of course, Mann has dealt with the challenges of a slumping job market, but he is hopeful for the future. “There’s a pent-up demand for recovery,” he says of the travel and hospitality industry. “I’m optimistic. Don’t be discouraged by the temporary lack of jobs. It’s just the normal economic cycle.”