PNW HTM Director Receives 2024 Focus Award

April 5, 2024
Kwangsoo Park poses with his Focus Award

Kwangsoo Park, associate dean of the College of Business and director of the White Lodging School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), was selected to receive Purdue University’s 2024 Focus Award. The annual award honors individuals within the Purdue system who have made an outstanding contribution to furthering Purdue’s commitment to disability accessibility and diversity.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude and humility,” says Park. “Recognizing that my efforts towards disability inclusion were being acknowledged and valued was a deeply affirming moment.”

Park was recognized for his extensive and continued overall efforts in promoting disability inclusion through research, teaching and administrative initiatives. Strategic collaborations with organizations like TradeWinds Services in Merrillville, an organization that serves people with special needs and promotes awareness of disability issues, underscore his proactive approach to affecting meaningful change. His research background combined with his dedication to fostering an inclusive environment continues to advance advocacy efforts within the industry.

“This recognition acknowledges the importance of integrating accessibility principles into both research and administrative practices,” says Park. “It resonates deeply with my aspirations to make hospitality and tourism experiences more inclusive and accessible and create an environment where individuals of all abilities can thrive.”

Five people pose together. Kwangsoo Park is standing in the middle holding the Focus Award plaque.

As a boy, Park, along with his father and older brother, would take regular hiking trips. One particular trip up Mount Geumosan in South Korea, a particularly rugged climb, started Park thinking about disability inclusion and accessibility. “The experience was exhilarating but it also highlighted the challenges of inclusivity and accessibility,” explains Park. “Those experiences inspired me to pursue research that aims to dismantle barriers and create opportunities for everyone to enjoy travel and leisure activities without constraints. Recognizing the societal gaps in accommodating individuals with disabilities and witnessing firsthand the challenges they face accessing education or employment opportunities ignited my passion for advocating for change.”

In addition to disability inclusion and accessibility, Park’s research interests include quality of life in event management and event management research trends. He has authored or co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and 40 peer-reviewed conference proceedings. He currently serves as president of the Korea-American Hospitality and Tourism Educators Association, associate editor of Hospitability and Tourism in the Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal and advisory council for the North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance.