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Coined the World's Best Hotel School, the Cornell School
of Hotel Administration Celebrates 85 Years
The School’s Five Living Deans Attend NYC Event

Ithaca, NY, September 27, 2007 – More than 200 alumni of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration gathered on Monday, September 24 at the Union League Club in New York City to celebrate the school’s 85th anniversary. The school’s five living deans attended the event, along with Cornell President David J. Skorton and several school faculty members and leaders.

Making a toast to the school’s rich history and tradition, current Dean and E. M. Statler Professor Michael Johnson invoked the words of Sir Isaac Newton, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Founded in 1922 under Dean Howard Bagnall Meek, the Cornell School of Hotel Administration was the first to offer an undergraduate hospitality management degree. Meek successfully challenged the prevailing view among hoteliers that the only way to learn the business was to work in the business. He went on to lead the school for 39 years, building a program that emphasized experiential learning, extra-curricular programs, industry research and social networking.

Guided by Meek and the deans who followed him – Robert Beck, Jack Clark, David Dittman, David Butler and Johnson – the school has built a global reputation as the preeminent institution of its kind. During his remarks, President Skorton cited a series of innovations on behalf of the school, including:

  • The first teaching hotel, opened as the Statler Inn in 1950, and continues today as The Statler Hotel;
  • The first master’s degree program in the field, launched in 1973;
  • The creation of the Center for Hospitality Research in 1992, which sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry;
  • The opening of a state-of-the-art learning facility, the Robert A. and Jan. M. Beck Center, in 2004;
  • A joint master’s degree program in hospitality management with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the first of its kind, established in 2004; and
  • The launch of the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship in 2006, made possible through a $15 million gift from the Pillsburys – the largest single gift in the school’s history. Mr. Pillsbury served as master of ceremonies for the evening.
In fall 2007, Newsweek magazine named Cornell the "hottest" school in the Ivy League, citing, among other attributes, "the world's best" hotel school. That distinction is a tribute to both the school and its alumni, some 11,000 strong, who founded many of hospitality's most venerable brands and today hold leadership positions in every facet of what is the world's largest and most dynamic industry.

Looking to the future, President Skorton hailed the school for its ongoing commitment to attract qualified students of all backgrounds. "I commend the school for making scholarship funding a priority in the university’s current capital campaign," Skorton told the crowd. "It is important that we keep the doors open for the generations of students to come."

Cornell President David Skorton (third from right) with Cornell School of Hotel Administration
Deans, from left, David Butler, David Dittman, Jack Clark, Michael Johnson and Robert
Beck at the school’s 85th anniversary celebration in New York City.
The event also featured the unveiling of "Hospitality Goes Global," a book published by the Cornell Hotel Society, the school’s alumni association. The full-color book chronicles the history of the industry and profiles the contributions of many school alumni. "Hospitality Goes Global" is a companion volume to the society’s first book, "Hospitality Leadership," which is a chronological history of Cornell's School of Hotel Administration.

About the Cornell School of Hotel Administration

The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration is shaping the global knowledge base for hospitality management through leadership in education, research and industry advancement. The school provides management instruction in the full range of hospitality disciplines, educating the next generation of leaders in the world's largest industry. Founded in 1922 as the nation's first collegiate course of study in hospitality management, the Cornell School of Hotel Administration is recognized as the world leader in its field. For more information, visit


Cydney Peters


Also See: Cornell University School of Hotel Administration Opens $16.2 million, 36,000 sq ft Beck Center; Named for Robert Beck, the Second Dean of the Hotel School / October 2004


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