ATLANTA – Debra F. Cannon, director of the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, received the Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Lifetime Achievement Award at a celebration on Sept. 27.
Cannon, who joined Georgia State in 1991, specializes in human resources and property management. Before joining academia, she was an executive at Hyatt Hotels and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.
Since her appointment as hospitality school director in 2001, Cannon has led the expansion of academic offerings, further strengthened industry relationships, and ensured students receive practical experience while pursuing their studies.
Initiatives under Cannon’s leadership include:
- Receiving a $1 million endowment from food industry titan Regynald G. Washington for graduate student scholarships, enhanced global experiences, and expanded teaching technologies. The Regynald G. Washington Master of Global Hospitality Management is ranked among the nation’s top 10 and the world’s top 25 programs.
- Creating the Cecil B. Day Immersion Program with a $2 million gift from Deen Day Sanders. Undergraduate and graduate students selected for the semester-long program participate in renowned examples of quality operations in all sectors of the hospitality industry.
- Founding the School of Hospitality Administration Industry Board, with membership including The Coca-Cola Company, Marriott Hotels, Czarnowski, Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority, and Proof of the Pudding. Members of the board give guest lectures, support projects, and mentor and hire students.
- Establishing the Bharat Shah Leadership Speaker Series, endowed by the Shah family in honor of its namesake, Bharat Shah. Speakers have included CEOs from major international hotel brands and resorts, hotel developers, star athletes, and entrepreneurs who have achieved international fame in the business world.
“Debby Cannon is consistently at the forefront of hospitality education due to her close industry relationships and understanding of emerging trends and needs – most recently redesigning the Master of Global Hospitality Management to offer tracks in AI business innovation, disruptive innovation & entrepreneurship, and fintech innovation,” said Robinson College Dean Richard Phillips. “My colleagues and I congratulate Debby on this richly deserved recognition from her hospitality industry peers.”
The Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration develops hospitality leaders for the global society. It is the oldest hospitality program in Georgia and one of the few U.S. programs dually accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Accreditation Commission of Programs in Hospitality Administration. It is named for the late founder of the Days Inn Hotel Company, whose legacy of excellence is the foundation upon which the school prepares its graduates to be hospitality industry leaders.