Christian Hardigree, J.D., has accepted the role of regional chancellor of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. She will depart Metropolitan State University of Denver on June 30 and will officially join the USF community July 1.
“I am highly grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to such innovative programs that are setting the bar for experiential learning,” Hardigree said. “I am proud of our collective work to prepare students for successful careers in this dynamic and diverse industry and am excited to see the momentum carry forward. We’ve built an exceptional team of faculty and staff that focus on providing relevant learning experiences while also ensuring student success and support along the educational journey.”
Hardigree was named founding dean of MSU Denver’s School of Hospitality in January 2019. During her time as a Roadrunner, she implemented multiple initiatives to raise the School of Hospitality’s profile in the community and across the higher-education and hospitality industries. Hardigree led the development of a targeted strategic plan as well as a curriculum-and-degree program redesign to streamline and elevate academic offerings. She also championed the use of open educational resources to increase accessibility and reduce costs to students, and she led efforts to increase diversity within the school’s student population. Additionally, she was instrumental in the development of several significant partnerships, including the establishment of the Day Leadership Academy, securing more than $3.7 million in external funding throughout her tenure.
The School of Hospitality is now the largest of its kind in the region, producing well-rounded, career-ready hospitality-industry leaders and innovators.
“As founding dean, Christian has played an integral role in the growth and maturation of MSU Denver’s School of Hospitality,” said President Janine Davidson, Ph.D. “She has helped shape the school into the most dynamic in the region and the only program in the U.S. that has a LEED Gold® hotel, a commercial conference space, a state-of-the-art beverage–testing laboratory, a commercial restaurant and a brewery all on campus. We are grateful for her contributions to MSU Denver, and I would personally like to wish her the best of success in all future endeavors.”
After obtaining a Bachelor of Science, cum laude, from the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Hardigree earned a Juris Doctorate from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. Working with Parnell & Associates, Hardigree has also served as a senior litigation attorney and partner focusing on premises liability, employment discrimination, arbitration and mediation, and labor-management relations and has successfully litigated over $100,000,000 in liability exposure.
Prior to becoming a Roadrunner, she served as founding director and professor of the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. She also is a researcher and frequent conference presenter as well, sharing her expertise in food safety, risk management, sustainability, workplace violence, bedbug litigation and employment/management issues.
“Dean Hardigree’s vision and energy elevated the School of Hospitality’s stature inside and outside the University,” said Provost Alfred Tatum, Ph.D. “She has created an upward trajectory and recruited talented faculty and staff members who will serve MSU Denver well for years to come. It has been a true gift to work with Christian, a gift she will now carry to her new role as chancellor.”
Hardigree will continue in her leadership role with MSU Denver until June 30, at which time Tatum will work closely with the School of Hospitality to appoint an interim dean.