Aspiring restaurateurs looking for a formal education in this fast-growing segment of the restaurant industry 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-chief executive officers of Panda Restaurant Group—the parent company of Panda Express—the college has created a first-of-its-kind academic program in fast-casual dining.
The landmark gift will support:
- The hiring of a full-time Hospitality College faculty member to design a comprehensive fast-casual curriculum as well as teach courses
- The development and launch of a 15-credit fast-casual academic concentration, offered as part of the college’s Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management
Over the past several years, Panda has placed dozens of UNLV students and graduates into line employee, supervisory, and management positions. By offering this first-of-its-kind specialization in fast-casual dining, Panda will help the college build a pipeline of professionals ready to lead this emerging dining segment.
The Cherngs’ history of philanthropy is well established. In 1999, they created the organization’s philanthropic arm, Panda Cares, which has raised more than $216M to date to support the health and education of youth in underserved communities as well as disaster relief.
Plans are to offer a single course in fast-casual during the 2021 spring semester and to develop a full concentration within the next 18 to 24 months.
The college currently offers academic concentrations in Event & Design Management, Hospitality Beverage Management, Innovative Restaurant Management, PGA Golf Management, and Gaming Management—with a new concentration in Tribal Gaming Operations also in the works.