Allan Hancock College has established the first international student program in its history with the recent signing of a contract with Copenhagen Hospitality College (CHC).  Beginning with the fall 2012 semester, the program will bring a cohort of about 20 Danish students, ages 18 to 25, to study at Hancock’s Solvang Center.  The curriculum will focus on culinary and hospitality topics.

The partnership is a positive move on many fronts, said José M. Ortiz, Ed.D., Hancock’s superintendent/ president.  “It meets our goal of expanding hospitality training and economic development in the valley, it supports global awareness and cultural competencies for our faculty and students, and it provides an innovative approach to new revenue sources.”  He added that the influx of these students will nearly double the number of international students currently enrolled at the college.  International students are required to pay tuition above and beyond the enrollment fees required of in-state students.  Those additional funds stay with the college and, in this case, will increase revenues.

Copenhagen Hospitality College is northern Europe’s largest vocational college in the hotel/restaurant field.  Founded more than 90 years ago, the college offers multiple culinary and hospitality curriculums.  Programs range from several months to four years and are a combination of theoretical and vocational experience.  CHC has established internships worldwide.

Danish students will arrive in California just before classes start on September 4.  A new cohort of students will arrive spring semester 2013.  Two of the four credit classes scheduled for the 15-week program will also be open to local residents and interested students.  The participating Danish students will be fluent in English and will live in Solvang.  Mary Harris, Executive Director, Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association, has been hired by CHC to be the local community contact for the new arrivals.

“Solvang is proud to be a part of the partnership between Allan Hancock College and Copenhagen Hospitality College,” said Solvang Mayor Jim Richardson.  “I see this as just the beginning of a long and valued association.  Solvang treasures the connection with Denmark; this partnership solidifies that connection.  Solvang anticipates this partnership to be the first step in developing a culture of culinary training excellence that will evolve into a new industry for Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley.”

The courses to be taught this fall are

  • CA 120
Principles of Foods 1 (lecture/lab) 4 credits
  • CA 118
Beverage Management (lecture) 1 credit
  • FSN 109
Basic Nutrition for Health (lecture) 3 credits
  • FSN 134
Food, Nutrition, Customs & Culture (lecture/lab) 4 credits

“CHC is excited and honored to be introducing the foundation of culinary curriculum to our Nordic students in collaboration with Allan Hancock College and the Danish-American community of Solvang,” said Søren Dahl K. Kristiansen, Ph.D., president of CHC.  “We are pleased to work closely with our colleagues at Hancock, as well as with the business and educational communities in the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara, to make this vision a reality.  We look forward to beginning a long and fruitful relationship with our American colleagues by sending our first group of students this fall.”

“This exciting partnership has been nearly a year in the making,” said Ardis Neilsen, AHC academic dean and the project lead.  “There has been tremendous support from the entire Solvang community, and it wouldn’t have been possible without their dedication to making it happen.”

Neilsen gave a special thank you to Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District Superintendent Paul Turnbull; the Solvang City Council and Mayor Richardson; Greg Pensa, Allan Hancock College board member from the valley; John Marino, Executive Director of Hospitality, Chumash Casino/Restaurants; Mary Harris, Executive Director, Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association; Solvang Conference and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Tracy Farhad; and the many local hotels and restaurant owners who support this endeavor.

For more information about the program, contact Neilsen at