Juline Mills, Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Program Coordinator
Juline Mills earned her Ph.D. in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Purdue University, and is the coordinator for UNH's Hotel & Restaurant Management program. She has been published dozens of times and has a research and publication interest focused on computer-mediated communications in consumer behavior aspects of e-business for hospitality and tourism across the three domains of travel, lodging, and foodservice. We sat down with Juline Mills to learn what she is doing inside and outside the classroom.
What do you enjoy most about teaching here at the University of New Haven?
The students are a great motivator for me. They are fun, personable, and they make you want to teach them. As a group they have a great attitude and they hunger for knowledge.
Do you see the future of teaching going in any special direction?
I think that the future, particularly in higher education, is very technology driven. As such, abstract theories need to be shown to students using a realistic “edutainment” approach, where in students can get excited about the topic. If realistic experiential education opportunities are not provided for students then they won’t be excited and they will not enjoy, learn, and much less love the process of education.
What do you consider to be the newest areas of research within your field of study?
The newest research in Hospitality and Tourism are in three main areas. First, sustainability, efficiency, and cost savings provisions primarily for the eco-friendly guest and to develop more acceptable and environmentally friendly operating procedures. Second, brand image reassessment. Consumers are looking for more when they leave their homes and as such they are demanding more from the guest experience when they visit a property, thereby forcing many hospitality businesses to rethink their value to guests. New destinations, Dubai for example, markets itself as a seven-star one-stop destination that has everything that a consumer could need beaches, indoor ski slopes, to desert dunes, and luxury shopping. Forcing more established destinations to reinvent themselves in unique ways as well as use innovative branding techniques, similar to the stand-out approach Las Vegas has been using for the last decade. The third area of research that is growing is the luxury consumer travel market. This involves providing clear definitions as to the different levels and types of services within the luxury-travel market.
What are the strengths of your department?
The Hospitality and Tourism program at UNH is a very student-centered program. The small size encourages student interaction with faculty members as well as with each other. Our students are our greatest strength. They embody true hospitality spirit and are very dedicated to the program and to UNH. Every student in the major is given the opportunity to work in a leadership role within the department, the College of Business, the Hazell Nut Café, Fusion Dining, one of our six national-level student clubs, as well as with our community service programming. In the Hazell Nut Café students hold positions as marketing managers, purchasing managers, and operations managers which enable them to guide other students and learn how to motivate as well as direct their team gaining managerial level work experience. The department also offers wider programming that is also attractive to students in other majors. Our “fun” classes: wine appreciation, history of beer, mixology 101, the heart of wine making, bar and beverage management, culinary arts, and pastry making are highly sought by students in other majors. HTM enhances the education of students in other majors by providing lifelong learning and personal development skills.
What level of participation do you expect from your students?
At least 90%. Some students give 100%, particularly, the ones who work in the Hazell Nut Café. The average student working in the cafe is required to work 10 hours a week. Most volunteer beyond their scheduled hours to ensure that the facility is operated and marketed constantly to the UNH community.
What recommendations would you give to incoming freshman?
I would encourage freshman students to get to know the other students in the major. Get involved and be active in the major and the university. In the first two years of the program freshman students should gain a wide variety of hospitality experiences in order to learn as much as they can about the business in general and to gain all-purpose work and managerial experiences. Students will thus have sufficient knowledge to make a more informed decision as to the area of the industry they would like to specialize in and can spend their final two years preparing to be effective managers in the field.
What is the greatest challenge you face as an instructor?
Probably always motivating the students to learn more, to seek and look beyond what I, as an instructor, present.
What teaching methods do you use that seem to excite the students the most?
Experiential learning primarily with hands-on projects is what I consider to be one of the true hallmarks of the teaching and learning process. In my tourism policy class (HTM340), for example, the students are given the opportunity to build the “ideal” destination. They hypothetically purchase an island that is available for sale online and then work at designing the vacation features and infrastructure of that island. In the resort operations course (HTM380) the students are also allowed the opportunity to design a luxury resort property as well as develop a relevant resort business plan. Students obtain a core set of skills and appropriate experiences applicable to their future employment in the hospitality and tourism business.
What technology applications have you utilized in the classroom?
Technology should be balanced with student capabilities and their ability to interact efficiently with both the software and hardware components. Not all students come to the classroom being tech savvy. That being said, there are some basic programs that I always use: PowerPoint, BlackBoard, e-mail and videos. All my lectures come with a PowerPoint that students can use as an information reference. I also use software programs specific to the courses I teach. In the resort course, for example, the students learn how to use SmartDraw to develop project timelines, floor plan layouts, and process models relevant to their projects. They also use Google Earth and Google Sketchup to 3D model their destination.
Do you have a certain field of interest?
My specific research interest area is information technology as it applies to Hospitality and Tourism. For the last four-to-five years I have focused on online disabilities research. Primarily visually-impaired consumers and their ability to efficiently use travel Websites to look and book holiday packages. I have also explored, through funding provided by the National Science Foundation, procedures for improving the online survey research process; and Internet addiction among college student populations. My current research project examines the application of biometric technologies to disaster preparedness and the use of the Web to better prepare college students to handle natural and man-made disaster preparedness. In particular, my colleagues and I are looking at the possibility of developing an online gaming environment that teaches these skills in a more social setting.
What are the strengths of your department?
In the first instance, we have wonderful faculty. Our faculty really care about the students. We have programs that are a balance between practice and theory. We have a balanced faculty that are involved with practice, research and theory. We are a professional school. Many of our faculty have had experience in the field and academia. The hallmark is the faculty that are here and the balanced program. We also have closer contact with the students.
Are any students involved in your research?
Yes we do have students involved in research. Currently we have three students working on two projects. Mei-Tan Lu is working on a project called "Gourmet Restaurants and the Web. An Exploration into the Online Marketing Efforts of the World’s Top 50", while Gawankar and Rathore are working on "Exploring Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry: An Examination of Current Go Green Practices among the Top Fifty U.S. Hotels" as part of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship(SURF) Award.
What occurs here that doesn’t occur in other schools?
The 100% managed and operated Hazell Nut Café is a signature experience for the HTM program and for UNH as well. Most hospitality programs do have a dining or restaurant facility that is affiliated with a class and run by the instructor. Our café facility is the only one in the country that is student only managed and operated. Our personalized/customized career development and learning experiences is another hallmark. Our education goes beyond the student curriculum and worksheets. Students are encouraged to take charge of their careers and they begin working on building their resumes the minute they walk through our doors and enter into our program. I also have an open-door policy where students can walk-in and visit at anytime to discuss their career goals, plans for the future, as well as to talk about live at UNH in general. In a nutshell HTM at UNH is experiential education at its best.