7 Reasons JWU Earns an A+ for Teaching

One mark of a quality institution is the caliber of its professors. There are many ways to consider what separates great professors from the rest, such as credentials and student success. Johnson & Wales faculty check all the boxes, but more than that, they are central to the university’s experiential education approach. Using their industry experience and connections, they equip students with practical knowledge from day one in the classroom, which makes them valuable employees on day one in the workplace.

And that’s just the beginning. Here are the top seven reasons why JWU professors are among the best in the country.

1. They put teaching first.

Unlike academic institutions that are dedicated to research, Johnson & Wales is instead focused primarily on experiential education. In order for that to work, faculty actively share their knowledge and shape the future directly with students. 

Take Cara Sammartino, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., public health department chair and associate professor. She took a 180-degree turn on her career (even unexpected to her) and left her job as a state analyst to develop the program at the university.

  • “They did not come here to bolster their publication credentials. They come here first and foremost to teach.”
    Scott Palmieri, Ph.D., English department chair, College of Arts & Sciences

  • “Our main priority here is teaching. We have small class sizes. We don’t have teaching assistants. We’re in the classroom every day.”
    Paul Bagdan, Ph.D., professor, College of Hospitality Management

2. They take mentorship seriously.

When students need career guidance, they look no further than a faculty member. At JWU, faculty are available and proactive when it comes to guiding students toward future opportunities

Associate professor Craig Skilling with JWU SEEM Volunteers at Super Bowl LIV


It’s one thing for a university to prepare students for their careers … it’s quite another for students to be prepared for their careers on day one. JWU faculty have industry experience and know what employers want. It’s no wonder that alumni crush it in the workforce, with a 98.6% Career Outcomes rate as of 2018.

  • “I talk to a lot of employers. We try to keep current with what’s going on and what they are looking for. I’ve found that the practical experience students have makes all the difference.”
    Jeff Tagan, assistant professor, College of Engineering & Design

  • “I think the best part about teaching Johnson & Wales students is that we’re able to relate real-world experiences to the student, and then have them come back and relate their real-world experiences back to us in the form of internships, they do volunteer work. They really connect the classroom to their work experience outside.”
    Barbara Norris, associate professor, College of Business

  • “In terms of being prepared for internships, I was 100% prepared for what they were going to throw at me.”
    Max Goldstein ’19

4. They influence their industries.

JWU faculty members have experience in their industries, but they’ve also done a lot of work to help shape and change their industries, too. From lobbying for new laws to advocating for job growth, they’re influential — and it benefits their students.

  • “Changes in the market structure will encourage greater employment opportunities. I’m advocating for these changes because in the long-term it will produce more opportunities for my students.”
    Alistair Williams, professor, College of Hospitality Management 



5. They practice what they preach.

Any good piece of advice a JWU faculty member gives a student in the classroom usually comes from their own personal experiences in the industry. They go beyond the textbook and use their own careers to share examples of what works and what doesn’t.

  • “It’s important to demonstrate the principles I teach in class within my own active projects. Sharing my practice with students helps them understand why certain steps are important, and doing this work outside of the classroom helps me be a better educator.”
    Evan Villari, associate professor, College of Arts & Sciences

6. They build relationships with their students.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, for students to build one-on-one relationships with their professors in large lecture halls with a sea of 250-plus students. At Johnson & Wales, class sizes are kept small so that students and faculty can interact and build a working relationship.

Evidence of this can be seen in the classroom where the student-teacher relationship almost looks like that of coworkers collaborating toward a main goal. In 2019, for example, Associate Professor Jonathan Harris worked with students to design and engineer a food cart for an international start-up company. 

  • “If there’s a question on your mind and you need to ask them something, they are very open. It’s a tight relationship. They care about you as a student.”
    Jared Brown ’20

  • “It’s me in a classroom with 20 students. I know every single person. Nobody can hide from me. The parents love to hear that! It’s just a completely different world.”
    Jeff Tagan, associate professor, College of Engineering & Design

  • “We don’t have large lecture rooms, so you get that one-on-one attention with your professors. They actually care and they ask you questions to make sure you are actually understanding the material. If you are struggling, they are there to help you.”
    Alexis Kievning ’18, ’20 MBA 

  • “The students take advantage of our expertise in a good way. It is rare that you would come to my office and not see students.”
    Cara Sammartino, Ph.D., MSPH, College of Health & Wellness

  • “I see smiles every day. I see camaraderie. When we walk down the hallway, we fist bump each other.”
    T.J. Delle Donne, M.A.T., CEC, assistant dean of culinary relations & special projects, College of Food Innovation & Technology



7. They help students turn their dreams into careers.

At Johnson & Wales, faculty help the doers get it done. It all starts with teaching practical knowledge first and creating opportunities in the classroom from proposing legislation to concert production to marketing professional sports teams that allows students to put those skills to the test.

  • “Joe Delaney and Dan Driscoll are fantastic. They helped me so much with the law school process and even making the decision itself. They were both there for me academically and personally and were a big part of my success at Johnson & Wales.”
    Tyler Martin ’19 

  • “The faculty helped to plan my credits so I could apply with the right credentials. They were very supportive: JWU is a big school but it’s small enough that faculty can really advocate for your interests.”
    Emma Goldberg ’21

  • “We take pride in placing students in internships where they often have a great conversion rate to career.”
    Deana Marzocchi, associate professor, College of Engineering & Design
Read more on career outcomes, social mobility at JWU