Kate Walsh, MPS ’90, has been named the seventh dean of the School of Hotel Administration, Provost Michael Kotlikoff announced June 16. She is the first female dean of the Hotel School and the second alumnus to lead it.
Walsh has served as interim dean since July 1, 2016. Her four-year appointment was approved June 15 by the Executive Committee of the Cornell University Board of Trustees.
Walsh successfully led the Hotel School through its first, crucial year as part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Kotlikoff said.
“Kate demonstrated a magnificent capacity for leadership during a transformative time in the life of the university and its business education programs,” Kotlikoff said. “I am confident she will continue to guide the Hotel School with her signature clarity of vision, administrative effectiveness and her passion for and dedication to the school’s academic excellence and its alumni, students and faculty.”
Walsh, who also is the E.M. Statler Professor, reports to Soumitra Dutta, dean of Cornell SC Johnson, who said she has been a very effective leader during a time of transition.
“I am confident that, with both her scholarly and professional expertise in leadership with a focus on hospitality, Kate will successfully lead the Hotel School into its next phase of excellence,” Dutta said.
As interim dean, Walsh’s accomplishments included extensive engagement with alumni. She has made close to 100 alumni visits and has spoken at multiple alumni events in New York City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Toronto and Chicago. This engagement resulted in fundraising that exceeded fiscal year goals in new gifts and the annual fund.
Walsh has also worked to deepen the school’s industry connections. With the support of her advisory board, she designed two industry-immersion experiences, in which faculty members took three-day trips to Washington, D.C., and New York City to enhance their hospitality-focused research and teaching.
And under her leadership, the Hotel School faculty, led by Cathy Enz, associate dean of academic affairs, has undertaken a curriculum review of the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs, further enabling students to develop distinguishing areas of expertise in hospitality. The redesign is on track for completion by December 2017.
“As both an alumna and a faculty member, it is a special honor for me to lead the Hotel School through its first years as a vital part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business,” Walsh said. “With the engagement of our faculty, alumni and other hospitality industry leaders, we are moving toward the future with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to hospitality education and research.
“Our best years are ahead of us, and it’s wonderful to have this opportunity to help the school achieve greater industry relevance and global prominence, and contribute to the success of business education at Cornell.”
As interim dean, Walsh succeeded Michael Johnson, whose term ended in June 2016. A member of the Hotel School faculty since 2000, she previously was associate professor of organizational management.
An expert in the intersection of career theory, identity and organizational relationships, Walsh researches how to retain and develop professionals, especially women, in organizational leadership roles. Her Ph.D. is in organization studies from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. In 1990 she earned a Master of Professional Studies degree with a concentration in financial and human resource management from the Hotel School. In 1985 she received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Fairfield University. She went on to become a New York state certified public accountant.
She came to Cornell with extensive industry experience. This includes posts as director of training and development for Nikko Hotels International, corporate training manager for the former Bristol Hotels, and senior auditor for Loews Corp.