Christian Hardigree, J.D.
Dean, School of Hospitality, Events and Tourism
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Serving as the founding dean of the School of Hospitality, Events and Tourism (HEaT) at MSU Denver, Hardigree engages with industry, alumni and benefactors to develop resources for faculty and staff to provide hospitality students with competitive, low-cost, high-value programs. Theoretical learning is enhanced through experiential learning in the School of HEaT’s Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center (HLC), a distinct combination of teaching laboratories and brewing space, a 150-room commercial hotel – Springhill Suites by Marriott – and event and conference space, all adjacent to the Lower Downtown dining district, convention center, three sports arenas and the performing-arts complex. The flexibility of the school’s curriculum allows students to emphasize careers in hotel management, event and meeting management, travel and tourism, restaurant management, brewery operations, and craft brewing and pub operations.
Prior to coming to MSU Denver, Hardigree served as the founding director and professor of the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State University. Addressing “sustainability on the plate” as well as “sustainability beyond the plate” in terms of water, waste and energy efficiencies, the highly relevant management program provided a competitive advantage and discernible point of differentiation as the epicenter for teaching, research and best practices in sustainable culinary and hospitality management.
Previously, Hardigree served as a tenured faculty member in the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in law, management, ethics and diversity. During her tenure at UNLV, she also served as the assistant president and chief of staff to the university president, the associate dean for Strategic Initiatives in the Hotel College, the department chair for Hotel Management and the associate athletic director for Community Development and Special Projects. Hardigree started teaching courses at UNLV in 1997, being presented with several awards for teaching and service, in addition to compiling an impressive and nationally renowned research and scholarly engagement portfolio.
In addition to her academic obligations, she has an extensive background as a trial attorney practicing primarily in the areas of premises liability, security/safety, product liability and employment law. She maintains an active caseload, including private consulting and mediation/arbitration services. She is a Nevada state-appointed arbitrator. She is licensed to practice law in the states of Nevada and Georgia, as well as the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada. Hardigree also serves as a consultant for numerous clients on a variety of issues.
She conducts research and presents nationally at industry conferences as related to her areas of expertise, including food safety, risk management, sustainability, workplace violence and employment/management issues. She is a national expert on bedbug litigation, speaking across the country on the subject.
After obtaining her B.S., cum laude, from the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV, Hardigree obtained her Juris Doctorate from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, focusing on employment discrimination, arbitration/mediation and labor-management relations. She is of counsel with the law firm of Parnell & Associates. She has served on a variety of committees and advisory boards, including the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, the ConServe Sustainability Advisory Council for the National Restaurant Association, the KSU Brian Jordan Center for Excellence and Professional Development at LakePoint Sporting Community and the Women in Lodging Advisory Council for the American Hotel & Lodging Association.