UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business and Economics has named Dr. Merlyn Griffiths the new head of the Department of Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Hospitality & Tourism (MEHT).
Griffiths has been a Bryan School faculty member since 2007, serving most recently as an associate professor of marketing. She follows Dr. Zhiyong Yang, who recently departed UNCG.
“I was so pleased to announce that the provost had approved my recommendation to appoint Dr. Griffiths to a four-year term as our new MEHT department head,” said Bryan School Dean McRae C. Banks. “Dr. Griffiths’s vision to build a strong brand and cohesive culture for the department was compelling, as were her commitments to research excellence in top journals and curricular innovation. I am excited to work with her to move MEHT forward.”
Griffiths completed her undergraduate degree at Boston University, earned her MBA at Bentley University, and completed her PhD in marketing with an emphasis in consumer behavior and environmental psychology at UC Irvine. Prior to pursuing a career in higher education, Griffiths worked in the marketing and business development divisions for companies like Polaroid and Hoyts Cinemas Corporation.
After making the decision to embark on a journey in academia following her PhD, Griffiths came across UNC Greensboro while searching for a university located in an area with a milder climate than her hometown of Boston. The climate, however, wasn’t what sold her on UNC Greensboro — it was the people she met when she came to visit campus.
“The people here made me feel so welcome,” Griffiths said. “I remember thinking on the plane ride home, ‘If they extend an offer, I’m going to take it.’” By the time she landed back in California, Griffiths had received an offer.
Griffiths is the first African American woman to serve as a Bryan School department head. Dr. Gwendolyn O’Neal served as department head for Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS) until 2014, though was appointed prior to CARS becoming an official Bryan School department in 2012.
“This speaks to the progressive direction Dean Banks is taking and the school,” Griffiths said. “He has great insight and foresight, and it will be an honor to work with him and learn from him. And to be first? I think it is really awesome.”
Known to her students as “Dr. G,” Griffiths brings more than just an extensive marketing background to the role — she brings a deep passion for leadership and for fostering educational growth in the minds of everyone that comes across her class roster.
“I think of myself more as an influencer. I believe I have the ability to help people to see beyond just what is, and with my students, I’m a huge proponent of education. It’s my responsibility to help them see the promise that’s within themselves so it’s not just teaching marketing, it’s teaching where you can go and what life can be for you,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths plans to continue her advocacy for education as department head, but she has a few more plans up her sleeve, including branding the MEHT department and exploring the possibility of creating new program offerings at the graduate level that draws on the combinatorial expertise of the MEHT faculty. Though her to-do list is extensive these days, Griffiths is taking it all in stride as she works toward an even brighter future for her department.
“Was I looking for this? Eventually, yes. However, I didn’t think it would come this quickly,” Griffiths said. “Do I believe that I’m ready? Absolutely.”