Would-be restaurateurs looking for formal fast casual education will soon be able to turn to UNLV’s Harrah College of Hospitality. Thanks to a $ 5 million gift from Andrew and Peggy Cherng, co-founders and co-CEOs of Panda Restaurant Group, the parent company of Panda Express, the college has created an academic program in fast casual dining.
“This gift is an absolute game changer for the college and further helps UNLV’s position as a world leader in hospitality education,” said Stowe Shoemaker, dean of Harrah Hotel College, in a company press release. “The Cherngs are helping the UNLV build a curriculum in an area that is underrepresented in hospitality programs around the world, and a demand that will only grow as interest in fast-casual dining continues to grow. “.
“It will provide our students with a broader understanding of the complex facets of the food and beverage market and set them apart with growing job opportunities in the fast-casual segment,” said Shoemaker.
The gift will support:
- Hiring a full-time faculty member to design a quick and casual full curriculum and teach courses.
- The development and launch of a 15-credit fast casual academic concentration offered as part of the Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management.
In recent years, Panda has placed dozens of UNLV students and graduates in employee, supervisor and management positions.
“Peggy and I want to empower people through education, and what better place to do it than at the world’s premier Hospitality College,” Andrew Cherng said in the statement. “We give because we want to be part of the development of these students and provide them with opportunities to thrive in all aspects of their lives.”
When Andrew Cherng began serving on the principal’s global advisory board in 2017, a partnership quickly developed between the Cherngs and the college, rooted in a shared vision.
“We [the Cherngs and the college] share the philosophy that life’s greatest rewards come from changing the lives of others, “said Shoemaker.” But as I’ve observed Andrew and Peggy over the past few years – the way they constantly strive to awaken the potential of others – I’ve become even more inspired to achieve this. “
In 1999, Cherngs created Panda Cares, which raised more than $ 216 million to support the health and education of young people in disadvantaged communities and for disaster relief.
“Giving is essential for us,” said Peggy Cherng. “Giving allows us to show our appreciation to the community that has embraced us.”
Plans are to offer a unique fast casual course during the spring semester of 2021 and develop full concentration within the next 18-24 months.
The college offers academic concentrations in event management and design, hospitality beverage management, innovative restaurant management, PGA golf management, and game management – with a concentration in tribal gaming operations as well.