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denny-s-universities-education-program.jpg Denny's Corp.
Denny's announces it is partnering with two universities to offer college credits in its employee education program.

Denny’s employee education program partners with 2 universities

Managers in training can now earn credits from Oakwood and Bay Path

Denny's Corp., the family-dining brand, is partnering with Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., and Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Mass., to expand its employee education program by offering college credits, the company announced Thursday.

The Spartanburg, S.C.-based company, which also owns The Meltdown and Burger Den virtual brands, said the program is aimed at providing access to skills training and non-traditional paths to career growth. The first stages of the so-called GAIN development program were announced in August 2023.

“This university partnership enriches career development opportunities for our team members,” said Kelli Valade, Denny’s president and CEO, in a statement. “The ability to become a smarter, stronger team member, enabled by these kinds of programs, is central to our brand purpose. When employees thrive, they can grow in other areas, build their families, and create a legacy.”

Oakwood is also a Historically Black College and University. Denny’s said the expansion of the career development initiative integrates the company’s hanager-In-training (MIT) program with specific courses, enabling participants to earn up to 30 college credits.

“The MIT program, which requires 500 hours of practical training, is now aligned with university coursework in business and hospitality like Principles of Management, Food Systems Management, Business Communication, and Leadership and Organizational Change,” the company said.

Kim Cliett Long, author and higher education consultant, has been instrumental in developing Denny’s GAIN educational initiatives, the company said. She helps ensure that Denny’s team members gain access to education that relates to their professional roles and is recognized for academic credit.

“Our GAIN program is not just an educational initiative; it’s part of our people-forward belief system,” said Fasika Melaku, Denny’s senior vice president of human resources and chief learning officer. “It nurtures the personal and professional development of our team.”

Denny's, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, as of Dec. 27 had 1,631 restaurants, 1,558 of which were franchised and licensed and 73 of which were company operated. That included 165 restaurants abroad. Denny’s also owns the Keke’s Breakfast Café brand.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

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