Faculty Bios

Leonard A. Jackson, Ph.D.
Program Director

It’s an exciting time for hospitality management at Kennesaw State University! We officially launched our program in Fall 2020 and, today, we have over 100 students who are on their way to earning their Bachelor of Business Administration degrees in Hospitality Management. Since its launch, we have worked with our key stakeholders, including industry partners, to strengthen our hospitality business curriculum and position our program as the premier source for ethical hospitality business leadership talent in the Southeastern United States.

Our Bachelor of Business Administration program focuses on developing students who are grounded in the principles of sustainable hospitality business administration and possess the contextual knowledge and practical skills necessary to optimize revenue and change organizations in positive ways. Students gain a solid hospitality business education combined with focused practical experiences provided by our preferred industry partners. Graduates of our program are prepared to:

  • Formulate and recommend business decisions based on hospitality industry data analytics and industry trends.
  • Develop hospitality revenue management and pricing strategies to optimize revenue and increase stakeholder value.
  • Demonstrate effective leadership and managerial skills that foster high performance hospitality work environments.
  • Incorporate legal, ethical and sustainability principles into all aspects of hospitality operations and management.
  • Design and implement innovative strategies to evaluate and improve service quality and operational performance within hospitality organizations.

Our diverse student body is actively engaged on and off campus, and many of our students are currently employed with our industry partners. Opportunities for student engagement are provided through the Hospitality Leadership Club (HLC), our premier student organization. The HLC facilitates interactions with industry professionals as well as plans and executes value-enhancing activities and initiatives such personal branding workshops, industry excursions and on-campus events. We also connect students with employers early in their academic careers through our leadership development – or LADDER – program. Students also benefit from our highly experienced faculty members who have close ties with the industry and who have held senior positions in the industry’s major segments and are active in research.

Melih Madanoglu, Ph.D.
Endowed Chair & Professor of Hospitality

Melih Madanoglu is Michael A. Leven Endowed Chair and Professor in Hospitality Management in M.A. Leven School of Management, Entrepreneurship, & Hospitality. Prior to joining Kennesaw State University, he was Associate Professor and Dean’s Distinguished Research Fellow in Hospitality and Tourism Management in College of Business at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Madanoglu earned his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech University. In his 20-year academic career, he taught hospitality management courses at Virginia Tech University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

Dr. Madanoglu’s research efforts received several awards. At institutional level, he was the recipient of the Florida Gulf Coast University 2009 Junior Faculty Scholarship Excellence Award. This feat was followed by the 2012 Scholar of the Year award in College of Business at FAU in the Assistant Professor category. The apogee of his scholarship at FAU has been the 2018 Florida Atlantic University Scholar of the Year Award in the Associate Professor Category.

Another notable accomplishment is the 2016 Bradford Wiley Memorial Best (Published) Research Paper of the Year Award in hospitality and tourism. This award is given to a superior research publication on a topic relevant to the field of hospitality or tourism management. He was also winner of the Best Paper in Track at the 2016 Southern Management Association (SMA). More recently, he was the recipient of Best Paper Award in Contribution to Conference Theme at the 2020 International Family Enterprise Research Academy.

Dr. Madanoglu serves as the Vice President of International Association of Hospitality Financial Management Education (iAHFME). His publications appeared in renowned journals such as Journal of Retailing, Tourism Management, Small Business Economics, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Small Business Management, International Journal of Hospitality Management, and International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. He is the Research Methodology Editor of the Service Industries Journal. He also serves on the editorial boards of International Journal of Hospitality Management, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, and International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Tourism Economics and several other journals.

Jonathan Brown

Mr. Brown's educational background is with the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, where he has earned a BBA in Management as well as a Master’s in Business administration. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management at Iowa State University and his research interests include Experiential Learning within Hospitality Education, Hospitality Internship Experiences, Economic Impact of the Craft Beverage Industry, and Program Evaluation within Hospitality Education. As a lecturer with the Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality program at Kennesaw State University, he has taught multiple subjects ranging from Beverage Management to F&B Purchasing to Strategic Hospitality Management.  Before entering academia, Mr. Brown spent 15 years managing hospitality businesses ranging from family-owned operations to large multi-national corporations; these businesses included Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Cabernet Steakhouse, World of Beer, and HMS Host.

Esther Yi

Esther Yi is a Lecturer of Hospitality Management in the Michael A Leven School of Management, Entrepreneurship and Hospitality, Coles College of Business. She has over 15 years of diverse industry experience and has worked for industry leaders including Expedia Group, Hunter Hotel Advisors and Fifth Group Restaurants. Ms. Yi also worked as an adjunct professor at Georgia State University, where she earned her Master of Global Hospitality Management (MGHM) and her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees. Ms. Yi also earned her Certificate in Hotel Industry Analytics (CHIA) and is a Certified Instructor of CHIA by STR.