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Bjorn Hanson would have rather been a college professor than work in the private sector. Instead, he has earned credit and respect over the years for his research in the hospitality and travel industry, and for creating econometric models that have transformed business analysis in the field.

As it turns out, he is leaving his longtime position with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to pursue his original career choice. Earlier this month, Hanson simultaneously announced his retirement as global industry leader, hospitality and leisure for PwC and his new full-time faculty status at New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management.

Hanson, who currently chairs the Tisch Center’s advisory board of industry leaders, will become a clinical associate professor teaching in the center’s undergraduate and graduate hospitality and tourism programs starting this fall. He stated during the recent NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference that he felt, at age 57, it was time for early retirement while it could still be called early.

“I’ve worked with some of the best consultants in the industry, some of whom are still with PwC and some who have gone on to other things,” Hanson tells GlobeSt.com in a later interview. “I’ve worked on the most exciting projects and many of the major litigations and transactions in the industry during my career.”

Besides establishing PwC’s widely regarded hospitality and tourism practice upon joining the firm in 1990, on the side formerly known as Coopers & Lybrand, Hanson has spent much of his 32-year career as a guest lecturer and adjunct and visiting professor. His passion for research began with a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, followed by an MBA from Fordham University and a doctorate from NYU.

During his tenure with PwC, Hanson held various positions including national industry chairman for the hospitality industries, national service line director for hospitality consulting, national industry chairman for real estate, real estate service line director, and national director of appraisal services. He also served on its leadership and financial advisory services management committees. Before joining PwC, he was a managing director with two Wall Street firms, leading banking and research departments for lodging and gaming.

Besides winning accolades in hotel industry publications and being recognized for his industry forecasts, Hanson has been quoted frequently in national business periodicals and mainstream media magazines. He has also appeared on numerous cable television news channels and network news programs.

“Bjorn Hanson is not only an experienced industry professional, but is also an educator and researcher of notable accomplishment in the fields of hospitality and travel,” says Robert Lapiner, dean of NYU’s School of Continuing Professional Studies, which includes the Tisch Center. He adds that Hanson’s high academic standards, research productivity and rich professional experience will provide a boost to the center’s advancement efforts.

Lalia Rach, divisional dean of the Tisch Center, says having Hanson joining full time to teach is a coup for NYU. “He adds a new dimension to our already strong applied research efforts,” she says, “and our students will benefit from his extraordinary knowledge of all facets of the industry.”

Instead of simply having his reports scrutinized by industry observers and business journalists, Hanson says he will now be authoring scholarly articles that will be refereed by peers from different universities. “It’s a different form of research with more documentation, more formality to the process,” he says. “It’s a different approach, but one that will allow me to continue my career-long interest in research.”

From an instruction standpoint, Hanson says he looks forward to facing reviews by NYU students. His chief objective as professor, he says, is to be able to teach quantitative methods while helping students overcome the type of anxiety brought about by math.

Trading one form of research and knowledge sharing for another makes it easier to transition from PwC to NYU, Hanson says. He is highly appreciative of what he is leaving behind.

“I was able to help shape this practice because I was the founder of it,” he says, “so to see it grow and to have PwC and me personally involved in working with these amazing colleagues, clients and projects, I just can’t imagine that anyone has been more fortunate than I have.”

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