The Driehaus College of Business has built its reputation for excellence with faculty and programs that blend high quality academics and real-world know-how. 

The college’s recent appointment of Misty Johanson as director of the School of Hospitality Leadership, and the school’s launch this fall of a new Masters of Science in Hospitality and Operational Performance degree, continue this long-held tradition.

Known as “Dr. J” by her students, Johanson (pictured at right) joined the college in 2009 as a hospitality leadership professor and served as an associate dean before being named director of the hospitality school in July. In the classroom, she has achieved high marks in student evaluations for her courses, including the program’s signature “Introduction to Hospitality Leadership” class. As a researcher, she has produced more than 50 refereed journal articles and two textbooks, earning her a place as one of the most prolific authors in the hospitality field. 

And in industry, Johanson has worked as a management advisor and consultant to major international hospitality organizations such as Starwood, Marriott, Hilton and Disney.

These credentials made Johanson a natural choice to steer the School for Hospitality Leadership, says Ray Whittington, dean of the Driehaus College of Business. “Misty is a talented and enthusiastic academic leader whose industry connections will help us access all of the opportunities that a world-class hospitality city can offer to enhance the prominence and success of the school,” he says.

New Master’s Degree Prepares Hospitality Leaders

Johanson has played a key role in developing the curriculum of the School of Hospitality Leadership, which was founded five years ago with a $7.5 million gift from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Now, as director, she is advancing the school’s goals by championing a new Masters of Science in Hospitality and Operational Performance. 

“Students in this program will develop leadership skills and operational capabilities that can be applied to a broad array of hospitality service enterprises,” Johanson says. “The program uniquely integrates critical business skills and practices with cutting-edge hospitality leadership knowledge that incorporates service innovation and technology pertaining to guest experiences and bottom-line performance.”

The new degree enhances the School of Hospitality Leadership’s slate of undergraduate and graduate degrees that are designed with extensive input from industry leaders. 

The school’s undergraduate program gives students a strong foundation in core business functions and then offers a choice of four tracks: private club management; food and beverage management; lodging management; and event management. At the graduate level, the school offers MBA concentrations in hospitality leadership and revenue management, in addition to the new MS degree.

Drawing Strength from World-Class Hospitality City

What distinguishes DePaul’s School of Hospitality Leadership​ is its founding at the university’s well-regarded business school in downtown Chicago and its strong ties to the surrounding hospitality industry, Johanson says. Chicago is one of the most vibrant hospitality hubs in the world, boasting more than $15 billion in annual hospitality sales, more than 100,000 hotel rooms, 15,000 restaurants and nearly 300,000 industry employees. “These connections provide robust opportunities for teaching and research collaborations and student internship and career opportunities among our industry contacts,” she says. 

The school’s enrollment is at a record high for fall quarter. To maintain this momentum and to kick off the new academic year this fall, the school hosted a “Picture Yourself in Hospitality” recruiting event on the Lincoln Park Campus for DePaul undergraduate students to raise awareness about the school’s majors and the wide range of careers available to students who earn degrees is hospitality leadership. Industry leaders supported and faculty and staff participated in the event that attracted much student interest.  

The hospitality industry has enthusiastically welcomed Johanson to her new role at the school and the direction she is taking the program.

“Misty is an intensely motivated individual with a strong work ethic and excellent leadership qualities,” says Joe McInerney, American Hotel & Lodging Association president and CEO emeritus, who chairs the school’s strategic planning council. “Her vision, dedication and commitment will bring fresh direction and innovative ideas that will take the program to new heights.”

“The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association is thrilled with her appointment as director,” says Marc J. Gordon, president and CEO of the association. “We look forward to supporting her as she takes the program to the next level.”