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University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Travel Industry Management Professor Jerry Agrusa is a recipient of the 2023 Pineapple Award from Pacific Business News (PBN). Agrusa was the only awardee from higher education among the 17 recipients.

The annual Pineapple Awards recognize leaders in the hospitality industry. This year’s honorees included hotel executives, chefs and restaurant owners, educators and more.

“It is an honor to be mentioned in the same category as the esteemed and respected hospitality leaders from the state of Hawaiʻi as a ‘Pineapple Award’ recipient,” Agrusa said. “I appreciate the support of Dr. Vance Roley, dean from the Shidler College of Business, the School of Travel Industry Management, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Pacific Business News. I am also grateful for those leaders in Hawaiʻi’s hospitality industry who have taken time out of their really busy schedules to visit my classes and share their expertise and knowledge with our students in the School of Travel Industry Management.”

Agrusa recently published a study on regenerative tourism in Hawaiʻi, which he has integrated into his strategic management capstone class.

“I believe it is my kuleana (responsibility) to bring the concept of ‘pono’ (doing the ‘right’ thing) into the classroom to guide the next generation of managers for the hospitality industry,” Agrusa told PBN.

When asked about his top business goal for 2023, Agrusa said he strives to expand his research in the areas of tourists’ willingness to pay more for authentic Hawaiian cultural experiences, as well as willingness to pay more for locally grown food in Hawaiʻi. Agrusa published a study on both topics in the Journal of Risk and Financial Management in 2021.

“It is extremely important that tourists engage in authentic and culturally accurate experiences so when they leave the islands, they can share the cultural experiences they encountered,” Agrusa said.

Agrusa has been a faculty member at leading hospitality management programs in the nation for more than 30 years. His past positions include the chair/professor of hospitality and tourism management at the University of North Texas, the chair/professor at Hawaiʻi Pacific University and two endowed professorships at the University of Louisiana.

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