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Fifth Doctoral Cohort Joins Hilton College

Hilton College welcomed six students pursuing their Ph.D.’s in Hospitality Administration this fall, along with one visiting scholar. From left, they are: Maame Afua Adu, Sung In Kim, Sean McNeely, Cortney Norris, Michelle Russen, Yun Yang and Dr. Hanlin Xu.

Maame Afua Adu
After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Tourism Management from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Adu moved to the States to pursue her Master of Science in Retailing and Tourism Management from the University of Kentucky. For her doctoral degree, she is working with Dr. Jason Draper on her research topic of destination marketing, and convention and meeting management. “I decided I wanted to earn my Ph.D. because I'm very passionate about teaching and sharing my experiences with people. I also want to be able to contribute toward the knowledge of what the African continent has to offer,” she said.

Sung In Kim
At Hilton College, Kim is working toward his second doctoral degree and is researching management strategy, advertising, marketing strategy and big data analysis under the direction of faculty advisors Drs. John Bowen and Jaewook Kim. He hails from South Korea, where he completed both his master’s and his first Ph.D. in Foodservice Management from Kyunghee University. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Beverage Management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “My decision to study at Hilton College was influenced by the reputation of its faculty and of how supportive they are of their students,” Kim said.

Sean McNeely (MS ’17)
After earning his Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Master of Science in Hospitality Management from Hilton College in 2017, McNeely continued a career in wine that has spanned three continents and included positions in nearly every aspect of the industry – from vineyard and cellar work in South America to managing distribution in Houston. He’s back at the College to further his knowledge in the areas of environmental sustainability, consumer behavior, and food & beverage marketing as it relates to the wine industry. His faculty advisor is Dr. Chris Taylor. “I’m on the never-ending wine route,” he said. “I decided to go back to school for the opportunity to work with and learn from Dr. Taylor and from the rest of the College’s world-class faculty.” 

Cortney Norris
After serving as a teaching assistant for many of her college courses, Norris found her passion and knew she wanted to become a professor. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Purdue University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. At Hilton College, her research topic is consumer behavior and branding in the food & beverage industry. Her faculty advisors are Drs. Chris Taylor and Scott Taylor Jr. “My years spent in the industry have helped me realize there is a need for research in many areas that affect business operations. For me, Hilton College was the best choice when it came to matching my expertise and interest in the beverage industry,” she said.

Michelle Russen
Russen’s previous degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management and a Master of Science in Hospitality Management from the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee. After attending the 24th Annual Graduate Education & Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality & Tourism at Hilton College this past January, Russen felt right at home after meeting several students and faculty. When it was time to apply to a doctoral program, Hilton College was her first choice. Here, Russen is working with Dr. Mary Dawson in her research area of human resources in the food & beverage industry. “In fourth grade, I remember our class being asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. Many of my classmates said they wanted to be astronauts or actors, but I wanted to be like Mrs. Lane, our teacher. I kept that same goal until my first semester in college – that’s when I knew I eventually wanted to become a professor,” she said.

Yun “Yvonne” Yang
After earning her bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management from South China Normal University, Yang moved to the States for a master’s degree in Hospitality Business Management from Michigan State University. With her end goal of becoming a respected researcher and professor, she is working with Dr. Yoon Koh to study corporate finance and strategic management. “My mentor at Michigan State, Dr. Ray Schmidgall, recommended I look into Hilton College for a doctoral program that would match my research interests,” she said. “This College really does have an outstanding reputation when it comes to research-based hospitality academia.” 

Dr. Hanlin Xu
Dr. Xu completed her graduate studies in Japan – a master’s degree in Economics from Kyusyu University and a Ph.D. in Tourism from Rikkyo University. She is continuing her postdoctoral research in the areas of sustainable tourism and tourism economics. She chose Hilton College because of its faculty and research environment. After she completes her work here, Dr. Xu plans to return to Japan and apply her knowledge to the corporate world.

Including this fifth cohort, Hilton College currently has 14 candidates in its doctoral program. This past May, three candidates from previous cohorts successfully defended their dissertations and are now tenure-track assistant professors representing the efficacy of our program at other tier-one universities. Click here to learn more about our Ph.D. in Hospitality Administration.