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Since its inception nine years ago, Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) has been among the fastest growing courses of study at San Diego State University.

Declared majors in the program rose from 37 in 2001 to about 500 in 2009; and in that time, HTM also grew from a department to a school, attracting more than $17 million in philanthropic commitments from Marriott International, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and many others.

This year, HTM marked another milestone. With an investment of $2.4 million from alumnus Bob Payne, ’55, and his wife, Patricia, the highly successful school has become an international leader in the field under its new name—the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at San Diego State University.

“SDSU showed me it was serious about serving the hospitality and tourism industry, and expanding its program into one of the best in the nation,” Payne said, whose leadership gift of $1.1 million launched the HTM program a decade ago. “I'm thrilled to be a part of its evolution.”

Payne’s allegiance to the hospitality and tourism industry is anchored in his life’s work. He has led operations for Jack in the Box; developed a chain of restaurants which he later sold to Ralston Purina; constructed and remodeled several premier San Diego hotels; and is currently president and CEO of Multi-Ventures Inc., a real estate investment and management company.

The Paynes’ most recent gift to SDSU is the catalyst for an eventual $8.5 million endowment as proceeds from SDSU’s hotel project are directed to the Payne School. Part of SDSU’s Master Plan, the hotel project will host campus visitors—including Aztec parents and alumni—and operate as a hands-on laboratory for hospitality and tourism management students.

The endowment will eventually support two new faculty positions, underwrite a portion of the director's position and create a Director’s Fund for discretionary projects and operations, including supplies, travel, equipment and student support.

More than 400 HTM alumni are currently making their mark in the hospitality industry and thousands more will follow in their footsteps.

“SDSU’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has been one of the most sought-after degrees on campus since we first opened the doors,” said Joyce Gattas, dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts.

“And no fewer than 100 percent of the school’s graduates have found employment in their chosen industry. They are a testament to Bob’s commitment to the future of the hospitality industry and to his alma mater.”
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