Career highlights

  • Department chair of graduate business program in the College of Business at Johnson & Wales University
  • Former program trainer for Carnival Cruise Lines, the Miami Heat and the X-Games
  • Recipient of Faculty of the Year; Service Professional of the Year; and the coveted Innovation Teaching Award from Van Nostrand Reinhold Publishing Company and the Council of Hotel, Restaurant Institutional Educators
  • Member of the boards of directors for FirstWorks and Roger Williams Park Zoo
  • 2019 Hall of Fame inductee for the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau


B.A., UMass Dartmouth

M.A., Rhode Island College

Ed.D., Boston University


Certified Hospitality Educator

What online courses could a student possibly take from you?

MGMT5900 Ethics, Corporate Social Resonsibility and the Law

What do you like most about teaching online?

The online environment is a new challenge as the students are usually very different from those in traditional classrooms. Often they are working full time, have families and outside interests, and can be located anywhere in the world from sites near one of our four campuses to the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe or the South Pacific. Usually they are very motivated and driven to succeed.

What strategies do you use to keep students engaged?

When first creating a course, I work with a talented instructional designer to ensure that the materials are visually appealing — I supply content knowledge but online specialists provide the necessary creative element. At the beginning of each course, I invite students to “smile and mingle” as we do so often in hospitality, by sharing my background and requesting they do the same, so they’re individuals not just names on a roster. In addition, I send announcements and updates (providing encouragement and comments on performance) on a weekly basis and answer all email messages within 24 hours — even on weekends! 

How do you bring the industry to life in class?

I try to include a number of recent articles (which change each term) relating to possible strategies and ask students to respond as if they were investors — would you financially back this strategy? They also peruse scholarly journals, as well as consumer press, to create blogs on topics of interest in the external environment that impact the hospitality industry. To personalize the experience, students are encouraged to choose specific companies of interest in some segment of hospitality/tourism for their research project.

Do you have any career advice for prospective students?

The hospitality industry is not just a job, nor is it merely a career — it is a lifestyle, and those who choose it and love it will excel. I believe that as a faculty member, my primary job is to assist students in achieving their dreams through encouragement, hard work, mentoring, teamwork, and perseverance. Those who embrace this philosophy will thrive. When they do, it is important to give back as well as pay it forward — if you’re on the fourth step of a staircase, turn around and lend a hand to the individual just starting to climb.  This is what hospitality is all about — when one person succeeds, we all succeed.

Want to learn more about earning your undergraduate degree in Hospitality or your Hospitality MBA online with Karen Silva? Complete the “Request Info” form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881. Click here for information on our other degree programs

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