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Cihan Cobanoglu, Director of the M3 Center for Hospitality Technology and Innovation on the Sarasota-Manatee Campus, Receives Prestigious Award

By Rich Shopes

Cihan Cobanoglu

TAMPA (August 19, 2020) -- University of South Florida Muma College of Business Professor Cihan Cobanoglu is the recipient of the prestigious Stevenson W. Fletcher Achievement Award for innovative contributions to hospitality and tourism research. Cobanoglu is the McKibbon Endowed Chair and director of the M3 Center for Hospitality Technology and Innovation based at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

The award was announced on Aug. 6 by the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education (ICHRIE), a Richmond, Virginia,-based nonprofit that supports hospitality and tourism worldwide. Cobanoglu will receive the award during ICHRIE’s annual conference, July 28-30, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

“I’m very honored because this comes from my peers and recognizes not only my own accomplishments, but also the work of the M3 Center, including our conferences, educational programs, open-access journals and many research programs,” Cobanoglu said. “This is shared by the whole team.”

According to the group’s website, the award is named for Stevenson W. Fletcher, former head of the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It recognizes, “an individual educator or trainer for outstanding achievement in contributing innovative ideas, methods or programs that have advanced teaching, learning or practice in the field of hospitality and tourism education.”

“We are very proud that Cihan has been selected by ICHRIE to receive the Stevenson W. Fletcher Achievement Award, an international award presented only once a year,” said Pat Moreo, USF Sarasota-Manatee campus dean for the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM). “Dr. Cobanoglu’s role in directing the M3 Center, and the internationally acclaimed work of our faculty there, is crucial to the School of HTM. Cihan is passionate about his work and is a brilliant scholar and teacher, and we are fortunate to have him on our team.”

In addition to conducting research, the center publishes books, industry reports, articles and journals – including three open-access journals – and hosts conferences and workshops globally. It frequently welcomes visiting professors and students, including from overseas, and its educational programming is viewed online by hospitality programs worldwide.

A Certified Hospitality Technology Professional, Cobanoglu is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Technology (a Social Sciences Citation Index journal), the Journal of Global Business Insights and the Journal of Global Hospitality and Tourism. He has co-authored six books and helped lead 10 conference proceedings. He earned doctorate and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University and an undergraduate degree from Cukurova University in Turkey.

Recently, Cobanoglu and Assistant Professor Faizan Ali co-authored an article, “Global tourism industry may shrink by more than 50 percent due to the pandemic,” that was featured in “The Conversation,” a popular online magazine of research articles, and subsequently picked up by Forbes, The Chicago Tribune and other publications. 

Cobanoglu was nominated for the award by Po-Ju Chen, department chair and Michael P. Johnson distinguished professor of business at North Carolina Central University, and Ersem Karadag, a professor of hospitality and tourism at Robert Morris University, a private university in western Pennsylvania.

“Awards are always nice, but I see this as more of an endorsement from my peers that we are on the right track,” Cobanoglu said, “and this only motivates me and the entire M3 Center team to continue to do what we’re doing to advance the hospitality and tourism industry.”