Clinical Associate Professor and Director, Florida Atlantic University Hospitality & Tourism Management Program
For more than a decade, Florida Atlantic University has offered a certificate in Hospitality and Tourism Management. When the pandemic brought mass furloughs and layoffs in the industry, Peter Ricci looked for a way to help. In April 2020, he cut the
program’s 40 hours of content to 20 and dropped tuition to zero so that unemployed workers and others could hone their skills at no cost.
“Within a week, we had 1,000 registrants. Normally we only have 500 a year,” says Ricci. “Within three weeks we had 10,000.” By September 2020, 77,000 people had registered and 66,000 completed the certificate program.
With high demand for more content, Ricci reinstated the 40-hour certificate in October 2020. Thanks to donations, FAU was able to reduce the tuition from $700 to $199. “The content in the certificate is very useful for a hospitality worker who either
has been out of school for a while or never studied hospitality in school,” Ricci says.
When the free program first launched, Ricci was getting as many as 6,000 emails each day from participants expressing their gratitude. He’s also received more than 30,000 thank you cards in the mail — and yes, he counted and is saving them all in his
“It warms my heart when I think about it,” he says. “We did something really cool that, were it not for Covid, we never would have done.”
Ricci is refreshing the course material for the next program, which begins in June 2022.