Hotel Ezra Cornell—a 92-year tradition

March 31, 2017

HEC 92Dear Hotel School Alumni,

Spring break is nearly here, and that means another successful Hotel Ezra Cornell is in the books! Typical for Ithaca weather, we experienced a major snowstorm just two days before HEC; it was an event that literally shut down Cornell and all of Ithaca. Going into contingency-mode, the students rallied to rethink their menus and reorganize their plans—and were completely and impressively prepared to welcome our alumni, industry guests, and friends to campus for this very special weekend.

HEC is one of our most valued traditions at the Hotel School, and it offers an unparalleled view of what makes us one-of-a-kind. This year’s theme explored change and the notion that, in response to industry shifts, competitive organizations use their core values to evolve and reshape who they are and what they offer. The title of this year’s event, “Face the Future, Preserve the Past,” is not so different from the theme for our school, as we build from the past to create our future. I am excited for the many initiatives we are creating here at the Hotel School, as part of the SC Johnson College of Business. Every single one of them expands on our Hotelie roots, as we springboard into providing the most relevant, contemporary, and vibrant educational experience possible—one that doesn’t preserve, but rather builds from our reputation as the number-one school for hospitality education in the world.

The HEC program mirrored this notion of creating our future together, with educational panels and presentations on hospitality real estate innovations, new concepts in branding, and growth in the health and wellness domain, among others. Enjoy a selection of photos of the various programs and events taken by the student volunteers over the weekend. Another highlight of HEC weekend was the 2017 Hospitality Business Plan Competition. Congratulations to the first-place team Natural Cuts, second-place team Bill’s, and to third-place winner Doña Nata. This annual event underscores the Hotel School’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship, with over $35,000 in startup funding to the top three teams. We’re especially proud of the fact that many previous winners have gone on to launch successful businesses. Many thanks to the prize sponsors who made the event possible.

Congratulations to all of the students and staff who made HEC 92 a resounding success! This program was the reflection of months of preparation, with a deep nod to our history and traditions. Our managing director Warner Hazell ’17, the entire HEC board of directors, faculty advisor Heather Kolakowski ’00, and all of the student managers and volunteers planned, organized, and delivered an HEC experience that was, from my perspective, “The Best Ever!”

Combining traditions like HEC with new initiatives will only strengthen us as a school. Our goal is to offer a level of thought leadership and relevant education far beyond what any other school of hospitality education can provide. And all of it begins with you and your engagement with us. As the hub of our industry’s eco-system, you are the secret sauce, as you help us to educate, mentor, and employ our students. One day, our students will pay it forward and do the same for tomorrow’s students; and so it continues. I know I speak for all of us when I say how much we deeply value our relationship with you, and appreciate all that you do for our students. Thank you!

With warm regards,

Kate Walsh signature

Kate Walsh
Interim Dean and E. M. Statler Professor
School of Hotel Administration

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