Joseph Drown Foundation Special Prize

Each year, the Joseph Drown Foundation awards a special prize to graduating seniors in the School of Hotel Administration (SHA). The grand prize is $15,000 and semi-finalists will also receive monetary awards.

2016 Drown Foundation Prize Application


Completed applications must be submitted via OrgSync by noon on Wednesday, February 10. No late submissions will be accepted. Note: Finalists chosen by the committee will be required to attend a 30-minute on-campus interview the afternoon of Friday, March 4.


The purpose of the prize is to enhance not only the knowledge of young people, but their independence and self-reliance so that they, in turn, may contribute to the free society to which Mr. Drown credited his own success.

It was Joseph Drown's wish that his accumulated resources be used for the advancement of other people. During his lifetime, he anonymously contributed to many worthwhile causes and to the betterment of numerous deserving people. To this end, he established the Joseph Drown Foundation and endowed the foundation with major proceeds from his estate. Because of his profound interest in education, the Drown Foundation has awarded not only this very special prize, but also numerous scholarships to students at SHA.

Award Selection

Selection is based not solely on academics, but upon the entire application, including career and personal goals and aspirations. Students who have shown an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as those who have followed more traditional paths, are encouraged to apply. Financial need is not a criterion.

About Joseph Warford Drown

Joseph Warford Drown, who died in 1982 at the age of 75, began his business career as a young man with Conrad Hilton. In a short time, he became an important and trusted executive with the Hilton Company, and participated with Hilton in early hotel ventures.

Drown eventually struck out on his own, beginning with the ownership of the Hollywood Plaza Hotel at Hollywood and Vine. During World War II, he operated feeding and concession contracts for the United States government in addition to his hotel interests. In 1946, he retired, but for only 14 days.

Joseph Drown acquired the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego and operated it for many years. His other hotel interests include the Desert Inn in Las Vegas in the early days of development of that resort city, as well as the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles. The Bel Air Hotel was originally a riding stable from which he created one of the most attractive and exclusive hotels in southern California.

In addition, Drown had many other business interests during the period from World War II to his death in 1982. Though he was a very quiet person, his counsel was sought by business and political leaders alike. He was a man with a keen sense of humor and an unerring perception of those around him. He was immensely successful both as a businessman and as a human being; he was hard-driving when making business deals, yet extremely compassionate of those less fortunate.