Cynthia Mejia has been appointed the interim dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, which ranks among the best programs nationally and internationally.
“Rosen has a long history of continuous growth and established success because of teaching and research thought leadership in the hospitality and tourism discipline,” she says. “I am excited for the opportunity to serve the faculty, staff, and students of UCF Rosen College as we continue in our evolution.”
Mejia joined Rosen College as an assistant professor in the Department of Foodservice and Lodging Management in 2013, bringing engaging teaching methods and diverse course offerings to prepare students for success in the industry.
Appointed interim chair and associate professor of the department in 2019, Mejia already has the experience and acumen needed for her newrole.
“Interim dean Mejia brings great enthusiasm about the hospitality industry to our college,” Associate Professor of Foodservice and Lodging Management Tammie Kaufman says. “She has been very proactive in developing relationships within the community and was a dynamic leader as chair of the FLM department.”
Mejia says her top priority as interim dean is to maintain Rosen’s excellence in teaching, research and service while stewarding the institution through the permanent dean search. She also aimsto foster industry partnerships that contribute to the college’s success, and to lead through service.
“I am a participatory leader, and I believe in a service posture,” she says. “We have a short time on this earth to do good things [and] be of service to others.”
Meija holds an undergraduate degree in biochemistry (California Polytechnic State University), a master’s in hospitality management (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) and a doctorate in hospitality administration (Texas Tech University). Beyond her academic training, her experience across diverse roles in hotel and food and beverage operations translates to her new role, she says.
“The focus was on the workers, our ‘internal customers.’ ” Mejia says. “We needed to make sure that our internal customers were engaged so that we could serve our external customers. I think my operations background translates to serving our faculty and staff so they are engaged and can better serve our students.”
A Vision for the Future
As she embarks on her new leadership role, Mejia’s passion for education, people and excellence shines through, offering an inspiring vision for the future of Rosen College.
In addition to being an educator, Mejia’s research areas are influenced by her extensive industry experience, including hospitality human resources, technology adoption, cross-cultural management, well-being and organizational behavior. She also conducts scholarship of teaching and learning research to explore the best uses of technology in teaching, advancing the field of pedagogy within hospitality.
“She’s a catalyst for innovative initiatives that involve our faculty, staff and industry partners to increase enrollment in our degree programs that create a pipeline of talent for our industry,” says Genyth Travis, senior assistant director for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Rosen College.
Despite a misconception about the hospitality industry only offering low-level jobs, Mejia says the industry is among the largest industries in the world based on gross domestic product.
“We have amazing jobs in technology, engineering, finance, and supply chain, for example,” Mejia says. “These are lucrative jobs at a high level.”
To help students inspire students to pursue advanced studies and a career in hospitality, Mejia shares her industry knowledge at engagement events at local high schools and community gatherings.
“Rosen College is in good hands with Dr. Mejia,” chef and senior instructor Jonathan “Jay” Judy says. “She is a consummate professional educator, she is smart, thorough and very dedicated. She truly cares about her students and their outcomes. I’ve learned a lot working with her over the last 10 years.”
Mejia’s contributions to Rosen College go beyond the classroom, and even borders. Her activities include editorial roles in academic journals and committee memberships for several prestigious organizations, such as the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Technology and the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education.
“Dr. Mejia is the colleague that one dreams of. We are honored to have her leadership acumen to guide us,” Associate Professor Denver Severs says. “She embodies the UCF Rosen College three pillars of service, professionalism, and leadership.”
She’s co-chaired events and been involved in leadership forums, reflecting her commitment to the broader academic community. In Summer 2017, she co-instructed the first Rosen College study abroad program to China, introducing students to the food and societies of Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou and Xi’an.
“Cynthia has proven to her colleagues over and over again that her DNA is made from determination, industry experience and a global mindset,” senior instructor Michael “Doc” Terry says. “Her leadership skill set includes a blend of seriousness, sense of humor, intelligence, trust and integrity.”