Dr Cheryl Richards Campus President of J&W University, Most Inspiring WomenLeaders of 2021 Profile

Dr Cheryl Richards
Campus President of J&W University

Dr Cheryl Richards Campus President of J&W University, Most Inspiring WomenLeaders of 2021

“Committed to Addressing Industry Needs”

Dr. Cheryl Richards became president of JWU Charlotte in June 2020 amidst the global COVID pandemic. She becomes the 4th president and the 1st female president of the campus. Dr. Richards was recruited and selected for this role based on her demonstrated record of leadership in higher education and her expertise in developing partnerships with corporate and community leaders. Her collaborative and inclusive leadership style has already renewed the institution’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion while simultaneously forging deep partnerships with civic and corporate leaders across the region. Dr. Richards outlined five bold priorities for JWU Charlotte in 2020. These included a deliberate use of data to drive institutional decision-making; re-establishing the institutions prominence within the community; innovating and launching new academic programs to meet the changing demands of industry; creating exceptional student experiences to attract and retain students; and structuring the university’s resources for future growth and success.

One of the hallmarks and differentiators of JWU is the commitment to experiential learning and a focus on career outcomes. JWU has a long history of providing students with career preparation for various industries, including culinary and pastry, hospitality, business, health and wellness, psychology, and more. Most students must complete a minimum number of hours working in internships or directed experiences with employers throughout their academic studies. This has earned JWU Charlotte a ranking of #6 globally for hospitality management and resulted in 98% of its students employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation.

Dr. Richards is committed to addressing the needs of industry and employers seeking talent. One of these early needs came from celebrity Chef David Burke, who described the challenges of identifying, training, and retaining a skilled workforce throughout his restaurants on the East Coast. JWU Charlotte, in partnership with Burke Hospitality Group, has since created and launched the David Burke Fellows Program to address this need. A select group of JWU Charlotte students was identified and interviewed to participate in a summer fellows program that includes paid work experience, on-the-job training in the Burke restaurants under the supervision of executive chefs and skilled managers. Students will have future opportunities to participate in management rotation programs and return to complete advanced degrees (bachelors or masters) upon completing the fellows' program.

JWU hires a combination of scholarly faculty and industry practitioners who have both academic expertise and real-world business experience. JWU students benefit from faculty who can teach their craft from a theoretical perspective while also infusing professional work experiences into the curriculum, so students are aware of the opportunities and challenges each career profession presents. Because of their deep connections with the community, faculty also work closely with industry partners and executives to bring their perspectives into classrooms and labs. This is invaluable as students gain insight from executives who share their experience and knowledge and leadership journeys that have led them to prominent careers.

Dr. Richards has a long-standing commitment to developing women in leadership positions. She is an engaged member and former president of Women Executives of Charlotte, a 300+ membership organization dedicated to women leaders' personal and professional enrichment. Women Executives (WE) is committed to a singular philanthropic cause – Women Executives for Community Service (WECS) and their signature WINGS Scholar program (Women Inspiring and Nurturing Growth of Scholars) has empowered women scholars for decades. A hallmark of the WINGS program is providing tuition and financial support for adult women to return to school and complete an associates, bachelors, or masters degree while also providing social capital through the mentorship of an executive woman. She has also mentored dozens of women in their pursuit of advanced degrees and career opportunities and is currently a member of the International Women’s Forum, a global organization dedicated to empowering and supporting women.

JWU Charlotte intends to remain a premier, private, non-profit, urban, residential university that graduates industry-ready leaders and life-long learners who positively impact the world. They will achieve this by focusing on three principles: Academic Excellence, Student Engagement, and Community Prominence. IE


J&W University


Dr Cheryl Richards
Campus President


Founded in 1914, Johnson & Wales University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with approximately 17,000 graduate and undergraduate students at its four campuses in Providence, R.I.; North Miami, Fla.; Denver, Colo.; and Charlotte, N.C. An innovative educational leader, the university offers degree programs in arts and sciences, business, culinary arts, education, nutrition, hospitality and technology.

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