Fashion Show 2014The website recently ranked the University of Kentucky Department of Retailing and Tourism Management as a top 5 fashion merchandising school in the South.

Schools were ranked based on academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of program and faculty, value as related to tuition and student debt, and geographic location. The region included schools in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas.

The website also ranked the department as the No. 28 fashion merchandising school in the nation.

Retailing and Tourism Management, part of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment,includes two degree programs—merchandising, apparel and textiles, and hospitality management and tourism.

“We really try to focus on what the industries expect from our graduates and work hard to develop relationships within the industries to create opportunities for our students,” said Vanessa Jackson, chair of the department, which is in the UK School of Human Environmental Sciences.

This includes recently creating an advisory board for the department, comprised of both academic and industry professionals in merchandising and hospitality fields.

 While the two tracks may sound distinctly different, they constantly crisscross paths in and out of the classroom. The department’s students are heavily involved in its two student organizations, the Merchandising, Apparel and Textiles Club and the Hospitality Management Association. The groups recently joined forces to host the department’s annual fashion show that raises money for department scholarships, with the MAT Club handling the clothing selection and the hospitality group focusing on planning the event and logistics.

The department also includes a Textile Testing Laboratory that conducts research for national textile companies.

 All students in the department have the opportunity to take study tours to fashion capitals of the world. Tours for the 2014-2015 school year include Italy, Greece, New York City and Ghana.

Author: Katie Pratt