An interview with Interim Dean Misty Johanson

Misty Johanson, PhD, became interim dean of the Driehaus College of Business on July 1, bringing 20 years of academic and industry experience to her new role.

The energetic Michigan native, who also directs the college’s School of Hospitality Leadership, has made boosting engagement among faculty, students, alumni and the business community one of her top priorities. In this Q&A, Johanson discusses what’s on her agenda for the 2017-2018 academic year.

What excites you about leading DePaul’s business college?

I am thrilled and honored to serve as the interim dean for the Driehaus College of Business and Kellstadt Graduate School of Business for the 2017-2018 academic year! There’s nothing that drives me more than teaching and preparing students to succeed in business. It’s exciting to see how the college is developing innovative programs and real-world business experiences that are helping our graduates reach their professional goals and bring value to their workplaces.

What are the college’s priorities over the coming academic year?

One of my priorities is to enhance our engagement with the business community to expand mentorships, internships and graduate career opportunities for our students. We are also seeking to increase support for student scholarships, faculty development and innovative academic programming at the college.

At the graduate level, the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business and DePaul’s Corporate and Employer Outreach, or CEO initiative, continue to build educational partnerships with Chicago area companies. This autumn, Kellstadt will offer its MBA cohort program onsite at Bosch and Northern Trust, adding to existing onsite MBA programs at MB Financial, Fifth-Third Bank, Walgreens and CDW.

Providing more online and experiential learning opportunities in each of the college’s business programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels also is something we are focusing on this year.

How does your hospitality background influence your approach to your new role?

A majority of my hospitality industry research focuses on human resource management and development. This research is a passion of mine – it not only sheds light on practices in the hospitality field, but also provides insights about managing people and serving our students as interim dean. I enjoy working with others in a team environment to create systemic change and make improvements to organizations during periods of transition.

In addition, I grew up working in the restaurant industry where the golden rule for hospitality and high-quality service was to create a warm and welcoming environment. As an educator and college leader, I believe these values carry over to how we engage with our students, faculty and staff, alumni and our partners in the business community.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in higher education?

After working for Marriott International and graduating from Michigan State University's undergraduate hospitality program, I decided that I wanted to be an educator and share with students my passion for the industry. I completed my master's and doctoral degrees from Michigan State in hospitality business and tourism. I began my higher education career as a faculty member in the University of Hawaii’s and Georgia State University’s hospitality programs before coming to the School of Hospitality Leadership in 2009 to help build this new school at DePaul. I enjoy teaching and working with students to discover their leadership abilities and where they can apply their skills to become successful in hospitality or other fields of business.

What made you want to teach at DePaul?

Serving as a teacher and administrator at the Driehaus College of Business has been my favorite role in my higher education career. What impresses me about DePaul is that teaching is a priority for our faculty. It shows in their commitment to providing our students with a personalized and practical business education. I also enjoy working at a business college that is in the heart of Chicago’s Loop, which provides all kinds of learning and career opportunities for our students involving organizations in this world-class business city.​​