The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Red Wolf Convention Center and Hotel at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro on Thursday was more than just a celebration, but a reminder of the center’s other purpose—education.
Dr. Kelly Damphousse, chancellor of the Jonesboro campus, said the 40,000-square-foot Embassy Suite hotel and convention center will serve as a “learning laboratory” for students in the hospitality management program.
“We’ll be able to recruit students to come here to get that degree and also to learn how to use it in this convention center here, as well, so it fits perfectly with our educational mission,” Damphousse said.
A-State’s hospitality management program is a part of the Neil Griffin School of Business. Damphousse said that he hopes the center will also be beneficial for students studying other aspects of business.
“We’ll also have internship possibilities for our students who are just getting accounting degrees and business degrees and other kinds of educational experiences for our students outside of the classroom,” said Damphousse.
The Jonesboro campus is not the only institution in the ASU system that has a hospitality management curriculum. ASU-Newport and ASU-Mid-South also teach certain aspects of the industry. System president Dr. Charles Welch said all three institutions will have a chance to collaborate together to run the center.
“A-State can focus on one aspect of the hospitality industry and we’ll allow our two-year colleges to focus on some of the other roles,” Welch said, “but all of them will be able to send their students here to work and to learn and use it as a learning laboratory. It’s really exciting that we can have more collaboration through that.”
The Red Wolf Convention Center will house a 203 full-service suite hotel and a Houlihan’s restaurant. A-State has been working with O’Reilly Hospitality Management in executing the project. The project is expected to be completed by summer 2019.
Editor's note: Arkansas State University holds the license for KASU.