Thanks to a continuing partnership with Viking Range, University of Mississippi Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management (NHM) students will enjoy a new test kitchen to perfect their skills, while preparing for careers in one of Mississippi’s leading sectors – the tourism and hospitality industry.
Viking Range, manufacturer of professional-grade ranges for homes, recently offered its product for use in the new NHM training kitchen to be located at the South Oxford Campus.
“The new ranges will allow students to train on industry-leading products manufactured here in Mississippi,” said Melinda Valliant, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management.
By helping offset the costs, this partnership helped acquire state-of-the-art equipment valued at nearly $150,000, supporting hands-on learning for students. Training future hospitality professionals is important to support the strong culinary and tourism industries, both of which play a large part in Mississippi’s economy, and is among ways UM supports economic growth in the state, Valliant said.
“We are so appreciative of the support that we receive from Viking Range. This partnership benefits our students in so many ways, in particular by providing them with excellent equipment on which to receive their training. We look forward to continuing to work with the fantastic professionals at Viking for years to come,” said the NHM chair.
Peter Grandjean, dean of the School of Applied Sciences, said enhancing opportunities for student experiences is a priority.
“I join department chair, Dr. Melinda Valliant, and the Nutrition and Hospitality Management faculty and students in celebrating the arrival of brand-new Viking ranges. This equipment is the very best in the industry and will add value to our students’ educational experiences.
“Our degree programs and community services are infused with world-class Mississippi hospitality and flavor,” Grandjean said. “For us to partner with an internationally acclaimed company with longstanding Mississippi roots makes this extra special.”
The NHM, through the School of Applied Sciences, prepares students for managerial positions in the hospitality industry by providing diverse educational opportunities, such as student internship opportunities with Viking.
Despite COVID-19 challenges, Viking maintained its commitment to host an intern from NHM, who spent the summer working in Greenwood, Mississippi, at the Viking-owned Alluvian Hotel and Spa.
“Having this opportunity with The Alluvian Hotel and Spa has helped give me great experience in the industry,” said Caitland Jones of Cleveland, Mississippi, on the internship. “It has been very insightful with the inner workings of the organization, along with service to the Greenwood community and beyond.
“I have gained many skills for providing guest services even given certain limitations with this pandemic. I feel my career has greatly benefited, and I will be able to optimize strategies to create unique guest experiences in any area I choose in the field of hospitality.”
Beth Tackett, UM alumna and director of Human Resources at Viking Range, helped initiate discussions with the university about a broader partnership. Kevin Brown, UM alumnus and president of Viking Range and CFO Jane Moss also have been involved with growing the relationship at UM through the university’s increased focus on expanding engagement with the industry.
In addition to its partnership with the NHM department, Viking Range recruits Ole Miss students in the Center for Manufacturing Excellence (CME) and the School of Engineering for internships and full-time roles with the company. Classes designed to amplify learning experiences for Ole Miss students also have been held on site at the company’s Greenwood facility.
“We are honored to have our products showcased on campus and available for the NHM students. We look forward to continuing to develop our partnership with NHM, CME and the School of Engineering,” Tackett said.
“The Viking brand is an American icon, and our Mississippi roots and support of the university are extremely important to us.”
Viking Range was founded in Greenwood in 1987 and acquired by Middleby Corp. in 2012. In addition to The Alluvian, which houses Giardina’s Restaurant, the company owns and operates the Viking Cooking School and four manufacturing facilities.
For more information on the university’s industry-engagement efforts, contact Hughes Miller at email@example.com or 901-490-0622.
For more information about giving opportunities in the School of Applied Sciences, contact William Fisher, development associate for the School of Applied Sciences, at 662-915-2293 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the school and its mission, visit https://sas.olemiss.edu/.
By Mary Stanton Knight