New faculty introduction: Dave Roberts

Roberts is a lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration

By: Stephen D'Angelo

With the academic year upon us, meet the newest faculty from across the SC Johnson College of Business and learn about their academic focus, teaching, and interests.

Dave Roberts | Lecturer | SHA

  • Education: BS/MS, Engineering (Operations Research), Cornell; MBA, Northwestern (Economics, Finance)
  • Previous academic role: Adjunct Professor, Virginia Tech
  • Professional Background: Missile defense engineer, financial analyst at American Airlines, 23 year career at Marriott – most recently leading Revenue Management, Analytics, and Sales Systems.
  • Teaching: Introduction to Hotel Operations – HADM1350, and hopefully a Spring elective.

What is your teaching focus?

I will focus on the interaction of various types of industry ‘players’, industry dynamics (branding, loyalty, consolidation, personalization, and more), a ‘balanced scorecard’ approach to performance, and how to actually run a successful hotel, with particular emphasis on the rooms division.

What are your research/academic interests?

Revenue Management and Analytics have been the passion of my professional life.  I have been very fortunate to lead these areas for Marriott for many years, until my retirement last year.  I’m currently working on a book that covers these topics, with a bit of business strategy mixed in.

What attracted you to the SC Johnson College of Business?

This is a fun one to answer:  I love hospitality, I love teaching, and I love Cornell !  Teaching hospitality at Cornell is a dream. I’m thrilled to be here.

Have you adapted your research or teaching focus in any way because of COVID-19?

Certainly.  I’ve spent most of the summer building out this course to be ‘zoom-friendly’, incorporating more interactive activities, and other ways to connect, as well as booking some very interesting guest speakers. I’ve done plenty of research for my book, and am re-writing some portions of it in light of COVID, specifically how COVID has changed some aspects of Revenue Management (e.g., more focus on automation) but not others (the evolution to ‘Revenue Strategy’).

What are you most looking forward to during your first year at SHA?

So much…I look forward to engaging with students, as a teacher and a mentor.  I look forward to collaborating with the amazing faculty here at SHA.  I look forward to making connections across the university, and in the local community.

What do you like best about teaching?

One of the great joys of teaching, for me, is instilling confidence in students, particularly those students who may lack it. I take pride in having students who may be intimidated by the course material at the beginning of the semester, who then end up doing very well.  They now have command of the material, but more importantly, they develop a belief in themselves that they can take on challenging endeavors. This is very rewarding. I also love the learning aspect of teaching. Whatever I’m teaching, I’m also learning, and this is always fun for me.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I’ve read some really great books this year – my favorite of 2020 is Homo Deus, by Yuval Harari. The book lays out some scenarios for the future of our species (for example, cyborgs living on Mars), and it sure is thought-provoking. It is a follow up to Dr. Harari’s bestseller Sapiens, which is one of the best books I’ve ever read on any topic. Wow.



  1. Dave is a fantastic mentor, thought leader/industry expert, entertainer and has the BEST stories! Cornell – you are in for a treat! -Mitch

  2. Believe it or not, Dave is “all that, and MORE!”
    Plus, he is a great colleague! The faculty, staff, and particularly the students join me in wishing Dave all the best! We miss him at Virginia Tech.

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