UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With the continual growth of gaming in Pennsylvania, nationally and internationally, Penn State is taking steps to better prepare hospitality management students for leadership roles in the industry.
“For years, Penn State has equipped students to successfully step into management roles at casinos in Pennsylvania, Las Vegas and around the world, and because we recognize the growing demand for strong leaders in the gaming industry we are taking extra steps to meet that demand,” said Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner Director of the Penn State School of Hospitality Management.
With resources made possible through the Ashner Directorship, Quadri-Felitti has named Assistant Teaching Professor Mike Ahlgren as director of gaming initiatives. In this role, Ahlgren will continue to teach courses focused on gaming management, guide students on embedded trips to casinos in Las Vegas and Asia, advise the student Casino Club, and lead an experiential learning gaming laboratory.
With permission from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, plans are underway to create a lab setting that simulates the dynamics of a casino environment. The School of Hospitality Management, celebrating its 80th anniversary, has a long and consistent tradition of success through experiential learning.
“This effort not only benefits students, but it also benefits the gaming industry,” Ahlgren said. “For students, they will gain essential experience to better prepare them for future managerial roles. For the industry, it will have the opportunity to acquire managers who have unique experience as part of a world class education at Penn State.”
Ashner established the endowed directorship of the school in 2016. A 1958 graduate with a degree in hotel administration, Ashner held positions as an investor, consultant, hotelier and COO of Resorts International Hotel and Casino. Ashner was an early participant in the burgeoning Atlantic City casino industry in the 1970s, buying and selling properties for the next few decades.