$150,000 gift will fund hospitality programs
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (Nov. 9, 2015) — Western Kentucky University’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences recently received a $150,000 gift, the program’s largest-ever current gift from a successful alumnus and respected restaurateur. The gift from Joe Micatrotto Jr. (’09) will fund the Micatrotto Fund for Excellence in Hospitality.
“WKU is extremely grateful to Joe Micatrotto Jr. and the Micatrotto family for this generous commitment,” WKU President Gary A. Ransdell said. “Part of the College of Health and Human Services, the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences is home to 20 full-time faculty and approximately 550 students each semester. With more than 200 students, Hospitality Management and Dietetics is the largest program in the Department. In recognition of this gift and the impact it will have on students, the University has named the dining room in the Academic Complex in their honor as the Micatrotto Family Dining Room.”
Micatrotto is one of four founding members of Micatrotto Restaurant Group (later MRG Marketing and Management), along with his parents and his brother. MRG became the first Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers franchise in Nevada, with franchises in the Southwestern U.S. Before he was president and CEO of MRG Marketing and Management, Micatrotto was managing partner of Buca, Inc., which is the parent company of Buca di Beppo Italian restaurants.
According to Ransdell, Micatrotto attended WKU on a full athletic scholarship in the mid-1990s and was captain of the 1997 Hilltopper Football team. However, he left WKU with only one class remaining for the completion of his degree. Through WKU’s Project Graduate, a statewide effort dedicated to helping people finish degrees they started earlier in life, Micatrotto completed his Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management and Dietetics in 2009
“This is a very significant contribution to the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Health and Human Services,” said Dr. Neale Chumbler, Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “Through the establishment of the Micatrotto Fund for Excellence in Hospitality Management, we have the opportunity to provide incredible pedagogical and service learning opportunities to our students for many years to come. We are grateful for the support from the Micatrotto family and are thankful for the opportunity to provide our Hospitality Management students the opportunities created by this generous gift.”
Micatrotto said, “WKU created the base for my personal and professional development as I entered the ‘real world.’ Whether it was the lessons learned in the classroom or on the playing field, I was able to take on the challenges put in front of me and handle them because I am a Hilltopper. I always knew that when the time came, and the ability to give back was present, it was my duty to help the University that helped me. Even though I am the only WKU graduate in my family, my parents, my brother, my wife and my children are all Hilltoppers. As a family we want to see the development of our school and our students for decades to come.”
The recently remodeled Micatrotto Family Dining Room is utilized as a commercial foods and catering laboratory for Hospitality Management and Dietetics majors. It is used each fall as part of the highly popular Faculty and Staff Luncheons, with food prepared and served by the Catering and Beverage Management class. Students write the menus, select the recipes and direct the entire event operations for the Thursday luncheons that are served, restaurant-style, for faculty, staff and guests.