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Dr. Joy Dickerson receives the 2012 Lindback Award

Dr. Joy Dickerson, of Garnet Valley, Pa., associate professor and director of the cooperative education program in the School of Hospitality Management at Widener University, was named the 2012 Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching recipient.

“This year’s recipient has established an enviable record of making a capstone experiential learning requirement for students a truly transformational experience,” Provost Stephen Wilhite said. “Feedback from students and field placement supervisors of these students convincingly document the impact of this course on the students’ acquisition of professional knowledge and skills, their development of leadership competences in both the workplace and the community…and their appreciation of the value of service.” Students echoed Wilhite’s comments, as they said, “The best course and the best professor I ever had.”Lindback Award 2012

Dickerson is honored to receive such an award. “I still can’t believe I was chosen,” she said. “I am truly humbled and I feel rewarded in knowing that this co-op/leadership concept has positively impacted our students. The students can actually see their growth over the course of the semester.”

The Lindback Award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated a history of teaching at the highest level. It is endowed by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, a Philadelphia-based foundation that provides grants to institutions of higher education for the promotion of excellence in teaching. The honor is bestowed annually to a member of Widener’s faculty.

At Widener, Dickerson directs the cooperative education program in the School of Hospitality Management, which combines work experience with a leadership development series. With the support of Dr. Nicholas Hadgis, dean of the School of Hospitality Management, Dickerson, has been given the freedom to reshape the elements of the curriculum, with the goal of adding personal and professional value to the students.

The leadership series is a 15-credit semester, which involves academics, self-assessment, reflection, and application, as well as a service-learning component. “Everything is interwoven,” Dickerson said. “Students are out in the field working 40 hours a week and participating in a weekly 6-hour class. It’s a unique program, and we are proud to consider this one of the hallmarks in the hospitality program.”

Students in the program not only gain technical industry skills, but they also develop important leadership fundamentals including: time management skills, personal accountability, responsibility, self-awareness, and an overall maturity and confidence in their professional conduct. Having the students come to campus for a class, also gives them the opportunity to learn from each others’ experiences, as they can share what’s happening in their jobs.

Since assuming this position a decade ago, Dickerson, has continued to enhance the leadership series. She even added a service-learning component, where students must commit to 12 hours of service during the semester, which often results in fundraising to produce meals for local agencies like CityTeam International and the Salvation Army.

“My hope is that when they leave Widener they will continue to serve others,” she said. “Service is a strong component of being a strong leader.”

This year Dickerson will be embracing social media, as she will be asking her students to follow industry leaders on Twitter, and bringing information for discussion to class.

This upcoming spring, the program will also have its first co-op “away” student, as a student will participate in a co-op at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla. The student will then “attend class” each week by means of technology, like Skype. Other co-op placements for students include: Harrah’s Philadelphia, ARAMARK, Marriott International, CrownePlaza properties and the Radnor Hotel. “We have great partnerships with a number of employers in our area,” she said. “Many of our employers are alumni, who continue to help us develop the next generation of hospitality leaders.”

Dickerson earned her bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from Pennsylvania State University, her master’s degree in human resource management from Widener University, and her doctor of education degree from Wilmington College. Prior to joining the staff at Widener in 1988, Dickerson worked in the food services sector of the hospitality industry.

She is a member of the International Council of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Educators and is currently serving as the president for the North East North American Federation for this association. Dickerson is also a member of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE). She advises the student chapter of NACE at Widener.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development, and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences and professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associates, baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees. The university's campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve approximately 6,500 students. Visit the university's website,, for more information.