Po-Ju Chen, Ph.D., a Fulbright Scholar, recently joined the Department of Hospitality, Hotel Management and Tourism in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as a professor.
“We are fortunate to have Dr. Chen’s expertise and academic accomplishment in hospitality and tourism added to our newly re-formed department,” said Brian King, Ph.D., department head. “Our students will benefit enormously from her breadth of knowledge and experience as well as her creative approach to teaching. She brings impressive thought leadership and academic understanding to the hospitality and tourism field.”
Prior to joining Texas A&M University, she served as associate executive director of the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the W. A. Franke College of Business at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Before that, she was chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Administration Department in the School of Business at North Carolina Central University in Durham.
Chen earned her doctoral and master’s degrees from Pennsylvania State University. After 16 years of tenure, Chen was made a professor at Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
She held the position of professor at Northern Arizona University and endowed professor at North Carolina Central University.
Chen’s research, publications, teaching
Chen’s primary research focuses on consumer behaviors in hospitality, tourism and services management. She also focuses on entrepreneurship, innovation, sustainability and cross-cultural research.
“I became interested in these areas stemming from my early career in the airline industry in the customer services department,” Chen said. “In academia, I had the privilege of working with prestigious researchers and young scholars furthering these lines of research.”
For applied research, she said she had the privilege to partner with various hospitality and tourism leaders and organizations, including destination management organizations, parks, restaurants, hotel companies and attractions/theme parks.
Chen is the co-executive editor of the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Education and has served as co-executive editor of the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Cases — both journals affiliated with the International Council of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education. She is also a board director at large for of the International Society of Travel and Tourism Association.
She has published articles in leading business and hospitality/tourism research journals and has received several research awards and other types of recognition for her academic contributions. These include Fulbright Research in Social Entrepreneurship, Austria; Innovation and Creativity Fulbright Lecture Award, Denmark; Jewish National Fund Fellow, U.S. and Israel, and Shanghai Overseas Scholar, China.
Her teaching excellence earned her the John Wiley and Sons Award for Innovation in Teaching, Teaching/Research Award in 2012 and 2015. She was also the University of Central Florida Walt Disney World continuing education instructor in Guest Services Management and Leadership and Strategic Management.
Industry, community connections
In addition to her academic accomplishments, Chen has also been active in developing industry partnerships and expanding community outreach on a national and international scale.
Some of these efforts include serving as the Florida Green Lodging Education liaison, president of the Professional Businesswomen Association and president of the Florida/Caribbean Chapter of Council of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Educators.
From 2014-2016, Chen served as the primary data analyst for the Institute of Internal Auditors Body of Knowledge. And since 2021, she has collaborated with the American Hotels and Lodging Association’s Castell College program that helps hospitality students learn about future career opportunities.
Chen said she has developed these partnerships as a means of furthering outreach and bridging academia and industry for hospitality and tourism education and research to benefit scholars and students. She said engaging industry practitioners in the classroom enhances learning by gaining firsthand knowledge, seeing how theories learned in the classroom can be applied, and understanding current issues related to hospitality and tourism management.
“I’m looking forward to working with industry leaders and department colleagues to cultivate future leaders of hospitality, hotel and tourism industries,” she said.