Eric Olson, Ph.D.

The Professional Convention Management Association will present a 2022 PCMA Visionary Awards Lifetime Achievement Award to Eric D. Olson, Ph.D., chair of the Rita & Navin Dimond Department within the Metropolitan State University of Denver School of Hospitality, on March 24. The award, presented in conjunction with the inaugural Business Events Industry Week, acknowledges Olson’s role as an educator and his many contributions and years of dedication to the hospitality, tourism and event industry. 

“Dr. Olson develops others by collaborating with faculty members, students, peers and society,” the selection committee said in its awardee announcement. Dr. Olson has supported numerous undergraduate research projects, graduate theses and dissertations. In fact, one student secured a job because of networking with professionals at (the Convening Leaders conference) on a trip led by Dr. Olson.”

Additionally, Olson has published extensively in top academic journals such as Tourism Management, Annals of Tourism Research and Journal of Convention and Event Tourism, where he was recently named an executive editor of the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Cases.  

 Olson recently spoke with the Early Bird about his career in hospitality and academia and the significance of this honor. 

Early Bird: What does it mean to you to receive this lifetime-achievement award?

Olson: I am extremely honored to be recognized by the PCMA, one of our industry’s largest professional associations for business-event professionals. PCMA provides incredible opportunities for students and faculty in areas of education and professional development. Several MSU Denver students and faculty members traveled to Las Vegas in January to attend the PCMA Convening Leaders conference, where they were able to network with hospitality professionals and hear from them regarding current topics affecting our industry. 

 I am also extremely fortunate to work with such wonderful students, faculty, staff, advisory-board members and other stakeholders at the School of Hospitality. They make me a better department chair, professor, researcher, colleague and citizen. 

Early Bird: Do you have any highlights to share since joining the MSU Denver faculty?

Olson: We had several new faculty and staff members join us this academic year, and we have been focusing on creating a culture where faculty and staff are empowered to make a difference in the lives of our students. This year, we have been focusing on teamwork, strategic planning, the student experience and faculty development. The School of Hospitality is on the move. 

Early Bird: What excites you about the future of the hospitality industry?

Olson: The hospitality industry brings people together through travel. As the world continues to open up, the hospitality industry is ready to serve guests. We have seen a lot of innovation that will propel our industry for the next few years. Our industry is also having conversations about sustainability, diversity/equity/inclusion, technology, customer engagement and employee work-life balance. Students who major in one of our degrees will be poised to take on leadership roles in the hospitality industry as the next generation of leaders.