Lynn Minnaert’s accomplished journey in hospitality education has included successful stops in New York and the United Kingdom. Her next destination: Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she will serve as the School of Hospitality’s next dean.  

Lynn Minnaert, Ph.D.

MSU Denver selected Minnaert, Ph.D., following a global search that drew a pool of highly qualified candidates, said Interim Provost Marie Mora, Ph.D. Minnaert emerged as the top candidate after impressing the search committee and other campus stakeholders with her experience delivering industry-driven curriculum innovations and improving the student experience, Mora said. 

“Throughout her career, Dr. Minnaert has collaboratively engaged with faculty, industry and alumni to strengthen curricula,” Mora said. “That experience, along with her demonstrated success in boosting enrollment, will be critical as the School of Hospitality continues to develop innovative new programs and strategies to prepare students for the workforce.” 

Minnaert is a professor and head of subject (a role equivalent to associate dean) for Tourism and Languages at Edinburgh Napier University Business School in Scotland, where she oversees a team of 35 faculty members serving more than 1,000 students. The school offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level programs in hospitality, tourism, events and intercultural communications. 

Minnaert also serves as the school’s equality, diversity and inclusion lead. In that role, she created a new EDI Committee and Advisory Board for the Business School and the EDI Innovation Challenge, a funding competition designed to foster student-led EDI activities.  

Minnaert said she’s thrilled to bring her passion for student success to MSU Denver’s School of Hospitality, the largest such program in the region. It’s the only U.S. program that has an on-campus Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold hotel, commercial conference space, beverage-testing laboratory, commercial restaurant and brewing lab. 

“The focus on industry-aligned learning in top-notch facilities, as well as the team’s genuine care for student success, set the School of Hospitality apart as a leader in the region and nation,” Minnaert said. “I look forward to helping to shape its future and ensuring that it continues to thrive.” 

Before joining Edinburgh Napier University, Minnaert was the academic chair at New York University’s Tisch Center of Hospitality for seven years, where she oversaw student affairs, faculty, programs, events, marketing, scholarships and alumni relations. In her roles at NYU and ENU, Minnaert has successfully led teams through accreditations and revalidations,another factor in her selection, Mora said. 

Originally from Belgium, Minnaert completed her postgraduate and doctoral studies at the University of Westminster in London and has also worked at the University of Surrey in England. She holds a doctorate degree in Tourism, and her research has focused on social inclusion in hospitality, tourism and events, as well as the role of leisure and recreation in social integration and well-being.  

She is currently leading interdisciplinary projects in regenerative tourism, hospitality in health care and respite breaks for unpaid careers.  

Minnaert plans to start her new role in late spring, depending on the time it takes to arrange relocation from Scotland. Until then, Interim Dean Annie Butler, Ph.D., will continue in that capacity.   

Butler stepped in to lead the School of Hospitality last January when then-Interim Dean Eric Olson, Ph.D., traveled to Vietnam as a Fulbright Scholar to help develop a hospitality-management program at VinUniversity in Hanoi. Previous MSU Denver School of Hospitality Dean Christian Hardigree, J.D., left the University in 2022 to serve as regional chancellor of the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus. 

In announcing Minnaert’s selection, Mora thanked the search committee, Olson and Butler, whom she credited with launching innovative programs, enhancing the student experience and improving camaraderie among the School of Hospitality faculty and staff members.

“Their leadership during this transition in the School of Hospitality has been excellent and seamless,” Mora said.