Hart School director looks forward to building on current foundation


by David Doremus

After six months as the Hart School’s interim director, David Shonk has been named to lead the school on a more permanent basis.

SUMMARY: Long-time Hart School faculty member takes up reins of long-term leadership.

JMU’s College of Business extends warm congratulations to David Shonk, who has been named director of The Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management.

Shonk’s appointment takes effect on February 1. He had been serving as the school's interim director since July 2023.

"I am excited but also humbled," said Shonk, who has been a member of the Hart School's faculty since 2007 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2019. "It has been a blessing not only to work at such a wonderful institution over the last 17 years, but also a privilege to work alongside so many talented and committed members of our educational team who always have the best interests of the students in mind."

Shonk’s elevation to the status of director was greeted with enthusiasm by G.J. Hart, the school’s namesake and CEO/President of the Red Robin gourmet-hamburger chain. A $3 million-plus gift commitment by Hart and his wife Heather in 2015 resulted in the school being retitled in their honor. It was the first academic unit at JMU to be recognized in this way.

“Dave brings an incredible passion for the school and its students and certainly has all the qualifications to excel in the role of permanent director,” said Hart.

“He also provides a very well-rounded perspective on the school's stakeholders, which will be most beneficial in moving the school forward,” Hart continued. “Heather and I are very excited about where Dave will take the school."

According to Michael Busing, dean of the College of Business, "Shonk has demonstrated leadership in curriculum and instruction" through a series of increasingly senior positions at the Hart School. He did this, said Busing, "by overseeing the process to refine course content and degree requirements."

Busing added that Shonk "also recruited students and worked with employers to increase internship and full-time employment opportunities for graduates."

Shonk said that, going forward, the school's mission will remain the same — "to engage in transformational education. I am excited to build upon the 'Hart School difference' and to be part of the team positioning us for the future," he said.

Shonk holds a doctorate in sport and exercise management from The Ohio State University and a Master of Science degree in not-for-profit management from the University of Maryland. He received his undergraduate education at Virginia Tech.

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Published: Thursday, February 1, 2024

Last Updated: Thursday, February 1, 2024

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