A Century of Global Hospitality Leadership

In 1922, Cornell University established its Program in Hotel Management—the first program in the United States to bring hospitality education into collegiate classrooms. Since then, the program has evolved into a premier business school that has a long history of shaping the hospitality industry through research, innovation, and a global network of extraordinary influence.

As we celebrate 100 years of the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, our global community will gather in celebration of the school’s accomplishments while looking forward to the bright future of the industry and hospitality education. Together, we will help usher in a new century of impact, innovation, and community.

Raise a glass with us


Our History

The idea of formal education in hotel administration was first conceived by New York hotelier John “Jock” Howie. He brought this proposal to Cornell in 1912. It would take another decade for an education in hotel administration to be established.

This idea—this spark—is the beginning of our education and our influence on the hospitality industry. Throughout our 100-year history, we’ve been pioneering and reimagining what it means to be in the business of hospitality. Celebrate the present and the future of the Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration by taking a journey into our past.

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  • students in kitchen dressed to provide dinner service.

    The First Day of Classes 

    The Program in Hotel Management—part of the Cornell College of Agriculture—holds its first day of classes on September 20, 1922. H.B. Meek is the program’s sole professor, and about 20 students are enrolled.

  • students stand below hotel ezra corell sign on campus building

    Hotel for a Day

    Hotel Ezra Cornell is held in Prudence Risley Hall on May 7, 1926, with Walter T. Bovard ’26 as manager. The event, proposed by Professor Jessie Boys as a “hotel for a day,” establishes an enduring Cornell tradition.

  • lecturer speaks in front of a large crowd in an auditorium.

    Industry in the Classroom

    Lectures on Hotel Management is offered for the first time. The course—known today as the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series—features weekly Friday lectures by visiting industry experts. It is open to all students.

  • a group of people gathered around a u shaped dining room table.

    The Society for “Hotelmen”

    The Cornell Society of Hotelmen is established with John M. Crandall ’25 as its president. Seventy years later, the organization changes its name to the Cornell Hotel Society.

  • students in a teaching campus during the 1930s

    A New Department

    The Department of Hotel Administration is established within the College of Home Economics or, as it is known today—the Cornell College of Human Ecology.

  • alice statler smooths the concrete below a cornerstone.

    The Beginning of Statler Hall

    The school receives $2.5 million from the Statler Foundation, a gift for the construction and furnishing of Statler Hall, including a 36-room inn. Alice Statler lays the cornerstone for the building on May 7, 1949.

  • dean meek overlooks a small model of statler hall.

    Becoming a School

    The Department of Hotel Administration becomes a separate school within the College of Home Economics. It separates from the college just four years later—leading to the appointment of Dean H. B. Meek in 1954.

  • students pass bottles of wine across an aisle during a wine course

    Country’s First Wine Course

    The Cornell School of Hotel Administration offers the first accredited wine appreciation course in American collegiate history. New York and California vintners visit campus to give lectures to juniors and seniors.

  • hb meek wearing flannel while drinking soda out of a glass bottle

    Statler Endowed Professorship

    The Statler Foundation endows the E.M. Statler Professorship of Hotel Administration—part of the organization’s $1.5 million gift. H.B. Meeks holds the first chair.

  • dean robert beck talks with students at a table on campus.

    Centers & Institutes

    Dean Robert A. Beck ’42 discusses plans for the future of what is known today as the Center for Hospitality Research—the first of what would be six centers and institutes at the school.

  • man sits at an early computer in the 1970s

    Expanding the Curriculum

    The school expands its curriculum, adding courses in marketing, managerial economics, computer science, and franchising. In 1973, it establishes the nation’s first master’s degree program in hotel administration.

  • Vance Christian with wine at his desk smiles at the camera

    Chair in Wine Education

    Banfi Vintners establishes the country’s first chair in wine education and management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. It is awarded to Vance Christian ’61, MS ’65.

  • group of students smile at the camera

    Society of Minority Hoteliers

    Clyde Robinson founds the Society of Minority Hoteliers (SMH), the first such organization in the country and the beginning of the National Society of Minority Hoteliers, which is founded in 1990.

  • ballons release over a red carpet celebration outside of statler hotel

    Statler Hotel Opens

    The grand opening of the Statler Hotel and J. Willard Marriott Executive Education Center takes place on April 10, 1989, the opening day of Hotel Ezra Cornell’s 64th event.

  • group of students pose for a picture

    Introducing the MMH Degree

    The School of Hotel Administration introduced the master of management in hospitality (MMH) degree program. It is developed under the leadership of Professor Neal Geller.

  • construction outside the beck center

    Beck Center Opens

    Five hundred people celebrate the grand opening of the Beck Center on October 28, 2004. This event follows the first class held in the building, which was taught by Neal Geller ’64, the Robert A. Beck Professor.

  • students stand in front of a display for the baker program in real estate

    Real Estate Program Named

    The Program in Real Estate receives an $11 million gift from Lisa and Richard Baker ’88 that more than triples the program’s endowment. At the time, it is the school’s second-largest gift in its 90-year history.

  • man takes a selfie with a large group

    Part of a College

    The School of Hotel Administration becomes part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, which is supported by a $150 million gift from H. Fisk Johnson, ’79, MEng ’80, MS ’82, MBA ’84, PhD ’86 and SC Johnson.

  • two individuals run past the feeney way sign

    Feeney Way

    Cornell University renames one of its main campus roads in honor of Charles F. “Chuck” Feeney ’56, a Hotelie who invested nearly $1 billion throughout the university over a period of nearly 40 years.

  • Peter and Stephanie Nolan along with Nolan stuff on stage.

    Dean Walsh Announces a Historic Gift

    Peter Nolan ’80, MBA ’82, and Stephanie Nolan ’84 give a $50 million gift, one that establishes the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration and provides scholarships for future Hotelies.


A Look into the Past

A picture is worth more than a thousand words. Take a stroll through our history by seeing it yourself. From the early days of our history to now, you’ll get a sense of how our education has evolved since its very beginning in 1922.


Statler with windows lit up in the shape a heart.

Join the Celebration

We’re celebrating the past and the future of the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration. And there’s more than one way to celebrate! Learn how you can participate in our centennial celebration.

Celebrate with us 

A group of men in front of cars.

A Story 100 Years in the Making

Take a moment to read stories from our archives and stay tuned for more stories about Hotelies who are already making history today.

Read Our Stories

A Toast to Our Future

Our community—our devoted Hotelies—are united by their success and their passion for service and each other. While there are many ways to celebrate our centennial, you can choose to make a gift that will positively impact future generations of Hotelies.