Dedman School of Hospitality and ClubCorp’s University Center Club: A shared history
A small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of visitors to FSU’s Doak S. Campbell Stadium each year are aware of the long-standing relationship between Dedman School of Hospitality and University Center Club, who share University Center Building B.
"When I arrived at University Center Club in 2004, it was very clear to me our contribution to the world of private clubs was to train and develop our industry's future leaders,” Tracy Marple, regional manager of University Center Club, said.
Marple takes that contribution seriously. In addition to leading the region’s premiere private club, she has served the Dedman School of Hospitality as an adjunct faculty member and as moderator of its forum of nationally recognized women leaders in the club management industry.
Along with her senior leadership team, Marple also appears as a guest speaker for Dedman classes, recruits at the school’s career and internship fairs, and supports and collaborates on events like the school’s popular Little Dinner Series.
“For me, it’s all about helping the students get where they want to go,” said Marple. “We provide opportunities, such as our popular event planning internship, and I am happy to say we have Dedman graduates at multiple ClubCorp properties throughout the country.”
Founded in 1957 by the late Robert H. Dedman, Sr., ClubCorp is the largest owner and operator of private golf and country clubs in the country. During the early 1970s, two Florida State University hospitality alumni, Jim Riscigno (’66) and Paul Daly (’67), began careers culminating in executive leadership positions with ClubCorp.
“Through the years, we were directly involved in hiring club general managers,” Riscigno said. “We always tried to hire the most talented people and we hired a lot of FSU graduates, as they were often the best.”
In the 1990s, Riscigno served on the board of the FSU Seminole Boosters, the FSU Alumni Association, and the Society of Hosts alumni group for the Department of Hospitality Administration. Discussions were focusing on funding the final building of FSU’s University Center complex at the south end of Doak Campbell Stadium, and ideas were being brainstormed about relocating the hospitality department to the proposed building and possibly partnering it with a lodging and food facility.
“We went to Mr. Dedman and spoke to him about the vision hospitality’s director Joe West had for moving the department, what Seminole Boosters’ president Andy Miller was doing with the University Center, and we asked if he would be interested in helping with a gift,” Riscigno said. “That’s where the first million and a half dollar gift from the Dedman family came from. It was matched by a $1.5 million gift from the State of Florida.”
An additional $1.5 million was donated by ClubCorp, Inc. With major support from the Seminole Boosters, other hospitality industry firms and the FSU community, University Center Building B was completed in 1997. Then, a unique partnership of academia, the Seminole Boosters and ClubCorp came together to establish the University Center Club as an alumni club, a faculty club and a city/business club for the regional business and professional community.
With the second and fourth floors of Building B utilized for the Department of Hospitality Administration’s academic and research space, the third, fifth, and sixth floors were available for the club, which would also provide a hands-on experience in a high-quality dining facility for hospitality students. This unique private-public partnership provides annual funds from the University Center Club to enhance the academic budget of the Dedman School of Hospitality.
In 1999, the Robert and Nancy Dedman Foundation donated $7.5 million, which were later matched by the State of Florida, to the Department of Hospitality Administration as the Dedman Endowment in Hospitality at Florida State University. Riscigno retired from ClubCorp and joined the faculty of the FSU College of Business’ Department of Hospitality Administration as an executive in residence.
In honor of the generous gift, the department took the name Dedman in 2000. In spring 2001, the Florida State Board of Regents approved an official name change of FSU’s hospitality program to the Dedman School of Hospitality.