Cornell School of Hotel Administration turns 90

Sep 20, 2012

Contact: Ashlee McGandy, 607.254.1368,

The Program in Hotel Management at Cornell University held its first classes on September 20, 1922, with Howard Bagnall Meek its sole professor and about 20 students enrolled. Since then, the Cornell School of Hotel Administration (SHA) has grown to be the world’s preeminent institution for hospitality management education. The school’s 90th anniversary will be celebrated on September 20, 2012 with a reception on campus and an alumni event in Washington, DC.

“The school’s history is remarkable. What began ninety years ago as a small program within the Department of Home Economics within the College of Agriculture has educated generations of leaders for the world's largest and most dynamic industry,” said Michael D. Johnson, dean and E. M. Statler Professor. “While our students’ educational experience remains our foremost priority, we have developed important partnerships with the global hospitality industry through robust research and outreach programs.”

The SHA was the first program to offer an undergraduate hospitality management degree. Meek—who became dean when the SHA officially became its own school at Cornell in 1954—convinced the hospitality industry of the need for a college degree program to develop industry leaders. Successive deans have continued to build a hospitality-focused business leadership program that emphasizes experiential learning, extracurricular programs, industry research, and social networking.

The school’s many innovations include:
• The first teaching hotel, which opened as the Statler Inn in 1950 and continues today as the Statler Hotel;
• The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly—now known at the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly—which began publishing in 1960;
• 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;
• The Cornell-Nanyang Institute, a joint master’s degree program in hospitality management with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the first of its kind, established in 2004;
• 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 creation of the Center for Real Estate and Finance in 2009, providing a platform for educating students, creating new knowledge through research activities, and exchanging information about real estate with a broad set of audiences;
• The endowment of the Baker Program in Real Estate, which was funded by Richard ’88 and Lisa Baker’s $11 million gift in April 2012 and brought the program under the governance of the SHA and the College of Architecture, Art and Planning; and
• The opening of the Marriott Student Learning Center in fall 2012, funded by a lead gift from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.

The anniversary issue of Hotelie magazine includes a timeline of SHA milestones, a celebratory list of 90 influential Hotelies, and more. View the digital edition at

An anniversary reception is being held in the Statler Hall Park Atrium at 4:00 p.m. September 20, 2012. For more information on the Cornell Hotel Society event in Washington DC, visit