The University of Utah recently appointed Marc Brown, a service professional and educator with decades of experience and an MBA from the U, to be the first executive director of the new Hospitality Leadership Initiative.
The new program is part of the university’s effort to leverage the thriving local hospitality and tourism industry to become a world-renowned destination for training future hospitality leaders. The university also wants to provide an opportunity for all students to learn about the meaning and importance of hospitality.
“The University of Utah is uniquely positioned to be the best place for students to learn how to manage hospitality businesses, improve customer experience in all industries, get internships while enrolled in college, then become industry leaders when they graduate,” said Taylor Randall, president of the University of Utah. “The Hospitality Leadership Initiative will also give us a great opportunity to serve underrepresented groups and position them for success in the industry.”
He added, “Creating entrepreneurial new programs like this is how we will inspire future U students and make a global impact. As our first executive director of the hospitality initiative, Marc Brown will be working with partners across the university and around the globe to build this unique program.”
The Hospitality Leadership Initiative is in an early design phase that will advance with the involvement of industry, academia and students. The initiative and planning process will be managed through an interdisciplinary effort with partners including the David Eccles School of Business; the College of Health’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism; and support from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, which has a mission of creating access and expanding opportunities for all people to live and thrive in healthy vibrant communities.
Brown joins the University of Utah after teaching hospitality courses at Utah Valley University for 11 years and creating and directing its Wasatch Resort Management Program for three years. His role in academia has revolved around teaching, curriculum development, academic program administration and student engagement. On the industry side, he has worked in a multitude of managerial and administrative capacities in restaurants, events and hotels for nearly two decades.
“My experience helps me to understand the diversity of opportunities in the industry,” Brown said. “This combination of extensive academic and industry experience provides me a distinctive lens through which to view the challenges and opportunities within hospitality.”
Before his work at UVU, Brown worked at many jobs in the food and hospitality industry in Utah; he was an executive chef at a Ruby River Steakhouse, general manager of a Hilton Garden Inn, and a member of the hotel executive team at the Woodbury Corporation, a real-estate development and management firm that manages Hilton and Marriott properties. Brown is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, an ability that has aided him over the years as he’s worked with diverse associates throughout his career.
“While my resume extensively covers my professional experience and academic achievements, it doesn't capture the full scope of my commitment to student success and innovative program development,” Brown said. “I've always had a passion for providing students with the knowledge, experience and connections necessary to thrive in the hospitality industry.”
He added, “The intersection of education and industry in this role fascinates me. I see it as an opportunity to bring tangible change, connecting educational theory with real-world applications in the hospitality sector. It allows me to utilize my strengths and passions to help others develop career pathways in a meaningful industry, making it mutually rewarding.”
As the executive director of the Hospitality Leadership Initiative, Brown plans to implement initiatives that bridge the gap between underrepresented communities and leadership opportunities within the hospitality industry. He wants to create educational and career advancement opportunities specifically tailored for these communities, beginning with the Latino community.
“I envision the Hospitality Leadership Initiative as a multifaceted resource that not only provides educational enrichment but also serves as a liaison between students, the local community and the hospitality industry,” he said. “By supporting academic programs, through various co-curricular engagements and focusing on the inclusion of underrepresented students, we can make higher education and career advancement in hospitality more accessible to a wider audience.”
In the near future, students will be able to engage with the initiative as it adds programs and events. Brown expects those opportunities to include workshops, guest speakers, applied research projects, scholarships and more. The initiative will also be seeking partners to provide support and opportunities for students.
Do you want to learn more and stay connected? Request updates about the Hospitality Leadership Initiative here.