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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Lori Pennington-Gray headshot outside in lush foliage on the UofSC campus

UofSC professor named Fellow of the Academy of Leisure Sciences

Lori Pennington-Gray is the first faculty member at the university to be named a Fellow of the Academy of Leisure Sciences, one of the highest academic honors in the tourism field.

Why it matters:

  • Fewer than 200 fellows have been chosen since the academy’s founding in 1980. 
  • Fellows are outstanding performers and recognized leaders in the leisure profession with a minimum of ten years of experience.
  • Pennington-Gray’s work focuses on the pandemic’s disruption of the tourism economy and devleoping an anxiety index that can be used by tourist destinations to monitor and forecast the impact of COVID-19.
  • This achievement is aligned with the university’s "A Path to Excellence" strategic plan, specifically President Caslen’s strategic priority No. 3, Outstanding Research.

“It is such an honor to be recognized as a Fellow in the Leisure Studies Academy,” says Pennington-Gray. “Never in my dreams when I started my undergraduate in Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Waterloo did I think I would end up as an academic, never mind one who has been bestowed such an honor. I am deeply appreciative to the Academy.”

Pennington-Gray joined the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management  in January 2021 as the director and endowed chair of The Richardson Family SmartState Center for Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development. She also teaches tourism management and is a faculty advisor to doctoral students. 

“Lori is well deserving of this recognition. Her leadership and extensive experience in research are reasons why she was hired,” says Matt Brown, interim dean of the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. “This recognition affirms my belief that she will make a positive impact in South Carolina. We are extremely proud to have her on our faculty and congratulate her on this honor.”

About Lori Pennington-Gray

  • She served 21 years as professor and director of the Tourism Crisis Management Initiative at the University of Florida.
  • Her work has been featured by the New York Times, Forbes, National Geographic, CNN and The Conversation.
  • She completed research projects around the world, including Canada, Mexico, South Korea, South Africa, Russia, Peru and the Caribbean.
  • She earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Waterloo, master’s in leisure studies from Penn State and doctorate in park, recreation and tourism resources from Michigan State.

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