Kevin A. Nelson, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of the School of Business, Graduate Faculty for Outdoor Industry MBA
How did you discover Western?
I was in graduate school at Michigan State University, and we were thinking about next steps. We had always talked about a desire to live in Colorado, and the job announcement at Western showed up on a bulletin board. We were excited and applied. That was in 1999. When we arrived with young children we said we'd give Gunnison and Western five years. And we're still here!
What are some of the highlights of your career?
I have done extensive research on economic impacts of tourism on local communities. I, along with other researchers, have worked on tourist satisfaction surveys in Gunnison and other areas in Colorado and Michigan. I've worked as a faculty member, department chair, associate dean and associate vice president (Academic Affairs). I've been in leadership positions at Western nearly all of my career.
What most excites you about your field?
When people are on vacation or in the role of a tourist, they are generally happy and willing to talk about their experiences (for better or worse). Even when things go wrong in a hospitality setting, they are willing to share the positive as well. It is great to work on making things fantastic for people who are out trying to have a good time to create wonderful memories. All of this translates into educating students and doing research. The answers to problems aren't always easy or readily available, but it is fun to work on these opportunities.
What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?
The beauty and the openness of the valley is one of my favorite things about western Colorado and the Gunnison Valley. There are always new places to explore to rejuvenate and recharge. The people who live here are also top notch, and it is a pleasure to work with and be friends with people at Western and the local communities.