GCSC received $2.5 million donation, largest in school history

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Gulf Coast State College received an unprecedented donation Thursday.

The Hilton family donated $2.5 million to the college, the largest donation in the school’s history.

Most of the money will go towards expanding the school’s hospitality and tourism program.

“I have always been interested in hotel education and management and tourism education in particular and it seemed to me that tourism being the number one private industry in Bay County, we had to have the best hotel management program imaginable,” said Julie Hilton.

$1 million will go to operating funds to help expand the hospitality and tourism program.

Another million dollars will go towards the permanent installation of a hospitality and tourism expert among the staff.

And an additional $500,000 will support the Gulf Coast Guarantee scholarship campaign.

“For students, it will bring an enhanced curriculum,” said Gulf Coast State College Executive Director Dr. Sean Preston. “It will provide concrete examples of what it means to be a hospitality expert. It’s going to bring in the best teachers we can get our hands on. This will provide us with additional space for students in this building which will be specific to the hospitality and tourism industry.

Having been involved in the hospitality industry all her life, Hilton said it’s very important for hotels to have properly trained staff.

“We will develop a program where we will work with employers in the community to learn more about what they want and need and what kind of education will benefit them,” Hilton said.

This program will provide our growing resort with a number of qualified hospitality staff upon graduation.

“You can have the most beautiful buildings in the world, but if you don’t have wonderful team members serving our customers, you have nothing,” Hilton said.

Gulf Coast State College’s Center for Advanced Technology will become the Charles Hilton Center for Advanced Technology and Hospitality Management as part of the donation.

The official inauguration of the ribbon will take place in July.

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