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Widener University Announces School of Education, Hospitality, and Continuing Studies

Widener University has announced the merger of the School of Hospitality Management and the School of Education, Innovation, and Continuing Studies to create the School of Education, Hospitality, and Continuing Studies, effective July 1.

The Widener University Board of Trustees approved the merger of the new school, which will consist of the Center for Education, the Center for Hospitality Management, and the Center for Continuing Studies, during their meeting in May.  

“This merger is being implemented in order to achieve administrative and faculty governance efficiencies while insuring that the visibility, marketing and quality of existing programs are maintained or enhanced,” said Dr. Stephen Wilhite, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost.

Dr. Nicholas Hadgis, former dean of the School of Hospitality Management, agrees. “By housing the program in the same school as Continuing Studies the potential for the development of non-traditional hospitality management programs and initiatives will be increased and the program will continue to be a center for excellence in hospitality management education.”

Dr. Joy Dickerson will take over as assistant dean for the Center for Hospitality Management. “Under Dr. Dickerson’s capable leadership I am confident that the Center for Hospitality Management at Widener University will continue to be a leader in hospitality management education,” Hadgis said.

The school’s administrative leadership team will include Dr. Shawn Fitzgerald, as dean, along with Dickerson as assistant dean, Dr. John Flynn, former assistant dean for education, as associate dean of the school and Dr. Marcia Bolton as assistant dean for Education, Licensure, Assessment and Accreditation and of the Center for Education. KayMarie Platt remains in her role as assistant dean for the Center for Continuing Studies and Don Devilbiss will take over as director of Administrative Operations.

“I’m excited about the opportunities that exist for each of our centers and I am confident we have the right leadership team in place to work with our faculty and staff in further developing contemporary academic programs that meet the needs of our students and external stakeholders,” Fitzgerald said.

In July 2012, the university joined the Center for Education and University College to form the School of Education, Innovation, and Continuing Studies. This merger resulted in a number of additional services, added expertise and a broader range of educational opportunities. Both programs have a significant online presence at the undergraduate and graduate levels and offer multiple satellite programs and hybrid classes, which will now impact hospitality management courses.

“The Hospitality Management graduate and undergraduate programs continue to attract applicants nationally and internationally as students prepare for careers in a truly global industry,” Dickerson said. “Nothing will change in terms of our offerings for students; however, we are looking forward to exploring programming options such as certifications, concentrations and contemporary workshops.”

Fitzgerald, who previously served as director of the School of Foundations, Leadership and Administration at Kent State University, which housed the hospitality management program, is looking forward to working with faculty to develop more programming options.

The new school continues to house all of the programs that were traditionally part of the School of Hospitality Management, Center for Education, and Center of Continuing Studies, including the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on Widener's Exton Campus.

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 comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,000 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free university. Visit the university website,