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Dr. Bill Ryan with some of his former Ph.D. students, including Dr. Emily Ma (second from left).

Ties that bind

Friday, October 23, 2020


Faculty mentoring continues even after Hospitality and Tourism Management students graduate

Dr. Bill Ryan of Oklahoma State University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has spent his entire academic life at OSU, from earning his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees here to spending a career as an administrator and professor. Ryan has chaired or served on 81 Ph.D. and master’s degree committees.

“I truly believe at both the undergraduate and graduate level that my role is helping students be better than I am in their careers and in life,” Ryan said. “Watching former students advance is gratifying.”

Ryan continues to work with and mentor alumni Dr. Emily Ma, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Dr. Iijing Liu, an assistant professor at Shandong University in China. Both co-authored journal articles as faculty with Ryan and professor emeritus Dr. Hailin Qu, former director of the OSU Center for Hospitality and Tourism Research. Qu, who retired this year, was the guiding hand for a generation of Ph.D. students at HTM.

Dr. Lijing Liu and Dr. Hailin Qu
Dr. Iijing Liu with now-retired OSU professor Dr. Hailin Qu.

“Dr. Qu not only prepared us well in terms of academic performance and an understanding of research design, but he is also a good mentor and a good example to follow in our academic careers,” said Ma, who graduated from OSU in 2010.

Ryan (and Qu, before his retirement) leads graduate students through rigorous training that includes students developing their own research interests into papers for conference presentations. Those ideas are further developed after graduation in collaboration with their former professors. In the case of Liu and Ma, the effort resulted in their study of environmental attitudes of tourists being published this year in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, coauthored by Ryan and Qu.

“Dr. Qu’s and Dr. Ryan’s wealth of research experience has helped me build a solid theoretical foundation, which is influencing my whole career,” said Liu, who graduated in 2013.

Continued collaboration with alumni benefits a young scholar’s career and serves as a recruiting tool for graduate students.

“When our graduates begin faculty careers, they deliver the OSU message about their experience here to their students,” Ryan said. “Emily still carries the OSU banner.”

Story By: Jeff Joiner | Discover@Spears Magazine

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