Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management welcomes new director

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Donna L. Quadri-Felitti has been selected as the new director of the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State. Her appointment will be effective in July.

“Dr. Quadri-Felitti brings a combination of academic and industry experience, which means she will do well at helping the school build relationships with industry partners and other external constituents, such as alumni,” said Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Eric Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. “She brings a broad perspective on hospitality from food service to hotels while understanding the connection between communities and hospitality.”

Prior to joining Penn State, Quadri-Felitti served on the faculty of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism in New York University’s School of Professional Studies where her most recent post was as academic chair of the center.

A search committee, led by Dennis Shea, associate dean for undergraduate programs and outreach in College of Health and Human Development, began seeking candidates for the position last year. Quadri-Felitti replaces John O’Neill, professor of Hospitality Management, who will lead the school’s new Center for Hospitality Real Estate Strategy.

“Dr. Quadri-Felitti’s work as a faculty member and leader at NYU gives her a good understanding of teaching and research expectations in a university setting, while her industry experience and networks give her a great foundation to build relationships with hospitality industry leaders,” Shea said. “She is someone who can build bridges between university and industry and help faculty and students find opportunities for research and education in collaboration with hospitality organizations.”

While at NYU, Quadri-Felitti developed and taught various hospitality management undergraduate and graduate courses not only at the flagship campus in New York City but in NYU programs in Florence and Prague. She has advised scores of undergraduate and graduate students on their individual academic, research and career development.

Quadri-Felitti’s main research studies involve improving consumer experiences within a wide range of tourism products from destinations to hotels. One of her research streams centers on the comprehensive tourist experience delivered in rural wine tourism by multiple hospitality and community stakeholders. Her research has appeared in various professional outlets, including the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development, and Tourism Hospitality Research.

A portion of Quadri-Felitti’s research on rural wine tourism was supported by a USDA-funded Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant. Additionally, she authors a column for and is a frequent speaker at hospitality and travel conferences on changing consumer preferences and expectations.

“My time in New York, both in the academy and industry, was a tremendous preparation for leading the Penn State School of Hospitality Management, with its extensive global reach along with its talented students, faculty, staff, alumni and advisers, who are all committed to contributing to the profession and our communities in and beyond the commonwealth,” Quadri-Felitti said. “I look forward to working closely with all the school’s constituencies to further its tradition of excellence and achievement.”

Quadri-Felitti’s industry experience includes working for some of the field’s notable brands such as in marketing with Smith Travel Research, in hospitality real estate valuation and advisory services with Horwath Landauer/Grubb & Ellis Real Estate Advisors, in development with Loews Hotels and Resorts, and in merchandising and retail services with ARAMARK as well as early benchmarking and revenue management startup with HotelRevMAX.

Daniel Lesser, president and CEO of LW Hospitality Advisors and member of the school’s Industry Advisory Board, who has known Quadri-Felitti for 20 years, agrees the combination of a deep academic background, practical lodging industry experience and extensive contacts throughout the hospitality sector, uniquely positions Quadri-Felitti for the appointment.

“Dr. Quadri-Felitti concurrently speaks the language of the traditional scholar and researcher as well as that of the hospitality professional,” Lesser said. “She has demonstrated tireless dedication to her students and a profound commitment to unwavering engagement with a broad range of hospitality industry personnel and executives at many levels.”

Quadri-Felitti also served as president of the Greater New York chapter of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and co-chair of the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education’s Annual Conference Career Teaching Academy. She was recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing for 2012 by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and received the President’s Award from the Food and Beverage Association of America.

“It is with great pleasure to welcome Dr. Quadri-Felitti as the school’s new leader,” said Plato Ghinos, president of Shaner Hotel Group and chair of the school’s Industry Advisory Board. “As an advisory board member, I am looking forward to assisting with the school’s continued success through integration with the industry’s top players.”

"This is an exciting time for the Penn State School of Hospitality Management, and we look forward to continuing to advance the work of the school and ensure that our program remains one of the top hospitality programs in the world,” said Lea Ann Kish, chief operating officer of Milestone Hospitality Management and president of the Penn State & Hotel Restaurant Society. “We are excited about the depth and breadth of knowledge as well as the leadership qualities Dr. Quadri-Felitti will bring to our program.”

Gary Budge, a 1972 food service and housing administration graduate of Penn State, is principal of Budge and Co. LLC Consultants in New York City and past president of PSHRS.

"Donna is a very dedicated hospitality professional who has a genuine care and passion for students,” Budge said. “She is at once professional and effervescent in her approach to education and taking care of all constituents including faculty, administration and the alumni. Her years in New York City in industry and with New York University have given her an opportunity to meet and share ideas with many individuals across all areas of hospitality."

An Erie native, Quadri-Felitti earned a bachelor of science degree in education at NYU, a master of science degree in hospitality industry studies at NYU and a doctoral degree in hospitality management at Iowa State University.

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Last Updated May 15, 2015