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Spirit of Hospitality

January 31, 2022 - -
Kelly Watson

“Working with Kelly is always a joy—she is always cheerful and willing to do whatever it takes to make a difference,” says the Director of YUM! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, Dr. Kathleen Gosser. “She truly cares about our College and putting our best foot forward.” That desire to put our College first has earned Kelly a Cardinal Spirit award.

In just under a year, Kelly has helped to ensure the events at the College have the polish and shine expected of a premier business school. She has brought twenty years of experience in the hospitality industry (including an eight-year tenure with the Muhammad Ali Center) to up the quality and consistency of events at the College. It’s an effort noticed by many, experienced by all.

Her first year was an auspicious one, navigating the programmatic landscape in the heart of a pandemic. In what could have been a slow start to a new job, Kelly took advantage of the opportunity time provided her. “I truly had a couple of months in the beginning that I could dedicate to learning more about higher education and an institute, like the College of Business, so that I could do it justice for its events,” reflects Kelly. “And so I’ve just tried to spend this year cultivating relationships with everyone across the College.”

As UofL began its pivot back to more in-person programming, creating safe and engaging events for the College community was at the forefront of every decision. Working to achieve a balance of safety and engagement has been a challenge for Kelly, but she was more than ready to tackle it. “I love to help make experiences better, and that’s been rewarding,” says Kelly. Those experiences range from traditional student-driven events like orientation and graduation to small receptions with alumni and friends of the College to faculty and staff fellowship lunches in the Frazier Hall atrium. Each event is given attention to detail and care, making them that much more special for those attending.

While she may prefer to stay behind the scenes, Kelly appreciates being recognized by her peers with the Cardinal Spirit Award. “I have seen the past winners, and they’re such great assets to the College,” says Kelly. “It makes me feel proud that hopefully, what I’m doing is making a difference.”