BGSU and Cedar Fair celebrate success of Resort and Attraction Management program, innovative partnership

SANDUSKY, Ohio – Highlighting a collaborative commitment to student success and meeting workforce needs, Bowling Green State University and Cedar Fair are celebrating the latest accomplishments of graduates in the only-of-its-kind Resort and Attraction Management (RAAM) program while also marking the benefits of a flourishing, innovative partnership.

During a special celebration at Sawmill Creek Resort on April 25, BGSU faculty and staff and Cedar Fair leaders came together to honor nearly 40 students from 13 states, including as far west as California and as far east as New York, who will earn bachelor's degrees in resort and attraction management.

As part of their studies, BGSU RAAM students can complete guaranteed, paid co-ops at Cedar Fair parks nationwide that align with their career goals and interests. Upon graduation, BGSU RAAM alumni have the opportunity for gainful employment in careers like park operations, hospitality, entertainment, merchandising, finance and more, underscoring the multi-faceted nature and needs of the growing industry.

BGSU senior Britt Gibney has leveraged her time in the program focusing on the human resources aspect of resort and attraction management. Already working at Cedar Point with an emphasis on employee retention, recognition and satisfaction, Gibney plans to stay with the park after graduation and credits the RAAM program with helping her find a career path she's passionate about.

"Throughout my entire time with BGSU and Cedar Fair, I've been fully supported along the way," Gibney said. "Nearly all of my classes have tied directly back to what I'm doing in my current role, and the RAAM program as a whole has given me a solid foundation to grow and be successful in this industry. I certainly wouldn't be where I am today without the program and the connections I've made this early in my career."

The celebration of student academic achievements comes as BGSU and Cedar Fair build upon an already successful and unique public-private partnership, providing expanded experiences and opportunities for students and employees alike.

"Partnerships are an essential part of Bowling Green State University’s work as a public university for the public good,” BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers said. “Our unique partnership with Ohio-based Cedar Fair is meeting both a workforce need in this in-demand field and attracting students to our state from across the country. By providing experiential learning with an industry leader, our students are graduating ready for career and life.”

“The RAAM program plays an important role in helping educate and prepare future leaders in our industry and provides a pipeline of talent to Cedar Fair,” said Jason McClure, senior VP of park operations at Cedar Fair. “We’re proud to partner with BGSU in providing the type of real-world park experience that will prove invaluable in helping jump-start these students’ careers.”

As part of the University's mission to keep education accessible and affordable, BGSU will offer a 10% instructional fee scholarship to all full-time Cedar Fair employees and their dependents starting in Fall 2024 for degree programs offered through BGSU Online, including RAAM which launched in a fully online format in 2023.

Through BGSU Online, students earn a quality, comprehensive education in a flexible format taught by the same world-class faculty in the University's in-person programs. BGSU online bachelor degrees are ranked No. 2 in Ohio and No. 57 nationally, placing the University's online undergraduate programs in the top 20% in the country.

Additionally, Cedar Fair awards $45,000 in exclusive scholarships annually to support RAAM students in their educational journey. As Cedar Fair associates, BGSU students are also eligible to apply for additional scholarships awarded by individual parks.

Cedar Fair further bolsters its support by providing students with opportunities to gain industry certifications and participate in professional development and networking sessions before graduation.

"From its inception, the unique partnership between BGSU and Cedar Fair has educated and empowered students to thrive as leaders in the growing resort and attraction management industry," said Dr. Swathi Ravichandran, professor and founding director of the BGSU RAAM program. "The opportunities offered through this beneficial partnership will only further contribute to student success, while increasing access to our in-demand degree program and supporting workforce needs in the diverse resort and attraction industry."

Driven by student interest and industry demand, the BGSU RAAM program has experienced significant growth since its 2020 inception. With its one-of-a-kind experiential learning opportunities at Cedar Fair parks, the industry-regarded program is gaining recognition beyond Ohio, with at least 70% of Fall 2024 applicants from out of state.

The BGSU RAAM program is poised to draw even further interest from potential students through the growth of informational promotions featured on FunTV, which broadcasts on large outdoor screens in the queue area of hundreds of Cedar Fair park attractions.

As graduating students like Cameron McAninch prepare to pursue full-time careers, they are encouraging those with an interest in the resort and attraction management industry to take full advantage of the beneficial partnership between BGSU and Cedar Fair to advance their education and careers.

"From the classroom to the park, BGSU and Cedar Fair have helped me find my passion," McAninch said. "The RAAM program truly equips you with all the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful in a growing industry with a lot of job opportunities."

Updated: 04/25/2024 04:11PM