The Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration serves the hospitality industry by preparing students for management and administrative positions in lodging, food service, expositions, fairs and private clubs. We employ faculty who possess both academic and experiential knowledge in the areas in which they teach. We recognize the importance of using practical work experience to supplement course content, utilizing industry practitioners as visiting lecturers, conducting research to develop the discipline of hospitality administration and establishing liaisons within the industry to assist in these endeavors.
Our purpose is to advance the business of hospitality by conducting pioneering research, engage with strategic partners, and educating the next generation of innovative leaders. If we are successful in our mission, our students will perform at the highest level of excellence and bring credit upon themselves and Georgia State University.
Georgia State University’s first hospitality students enrolled during the summer of 1973 in a two-year career program. Located in the College of General Studies within the Urban Life Building, the program was initially known as an associate of science degree in hotel-motel management offered by the Department of Hotel-Motel Administration.
The College of General Studies renamed itself the College of Public & Urban Affairs in 1983. In addition to the two-year associate of science in hotel, restaurant and travel administration degree, the school began offering a bachelor of science degree.
David Kenney, the chair of the school’s industry advisory board and a former Days Inn president, was instrumental in encouraging the Day family to donate to Georgia State University in the name of their founder, Cecil B. Day. Deen Day Smith, the wife of Days Inn’s founder, donated $900,000 to Georgia State University, her alma mater, in spring 1988. The unit was renamed the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration on May 11, 1988, in honor of the late founder of the Days Inn chain. Cecil B. Day is remembered as an astute businessman who developed Days Inn to national prominence. His legacy of excellence is the foundation upon which the program bases its philosophy for preparing future generations of hospitality executives. Though no longer living, Day continues to be known for his generosity and philanthropy.
The university began a reorganization process in 1995, which resulted in the school’s relocation to Georgia State University’s College of Business in 1996, later named for J. Mack Robinson. The school’s move to the College of Business also coincided with Georgia State University’s transition from a quarter system to semesters. In fall 1997, the degree was changed from a bachelor of science to a bachelor in business administration in hospitality administration.
In 2002, Dr. Debby Cannon was appointed director of the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration by Dr. Sidney E. Harris, dean of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. In summer 2002, the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration was listed among the top 25 programs by the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Education. The School of Hospitality ranked 13th in the nation and received top scores for curriculum, quality of faculty and quality of the student body.
On August 15, 2007, a grand opening ceremony was held for the new Georgia State University Hospitality Learning Center to be located at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC). The partnership between Georgia State’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration and the GWCC is the first of its kind between a major university and a major convention facility involving an actual on-site classroom. The Learning Center is the site for School of Hospitality classes as well as professional development programs involving a variety of hospitality sectors.
The Culinary Learning Center, a dedicated food lab located within the Bennett Brown Building, opened in 2008. This capital facility project allows the food production lab to be held on the campus of Georgia State University. Through donations, industry support and university approval, the Culinary Learning Center provides a hands-on learning opportunity for hospitality and nutrition students.
Our programs exist to serve students. The legacy of any program is its students. Motivated students represent the School of Hospitality Administration, college, and university when they enter the industry. We strive to instill in our students a high-standard work ethic and a realization of the importance of professional integrity. We strive to help students value their classroom preparation and accept responsibility for their own professional growth and development. We seek to promote lifelong learning and a belief that there is always room for growth and increasing knowledge.
Deen Day Smith and then-GSU President Suttles with the plaque at the dedication ceremony on May 11, 1988