By: Mark Young
It happened fifty years ago in October 1969 at a formal banquet at the Shamrock Hilton in Houston, Texas. Conrad Hilton, the world-famous hotelier donated $1.5 million to the University of Houston to establish the first hotel and restaurant management program in Texas. In honor of this magnificent gift, the university named its hospitality program, the Conrad N. Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management (later renamed as a college rather than a school). Thus, began a relationship that has continued for five decades between the Hilton family, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and the University of Houston (UH).
The roots of the Hilton College, however, actually predate the 1969 gala event. In 1947, the Texas Hotel Association moved its Texas Hotel Short Course program to the University of Houston, where hotel and motel operators and workers could spend a week in classrooms learning all aspects of the lodging industry from accounting to design concepts. In an era with few hospitality programs let alone classes devoted to the subject, the Texas Hotel Short Course was popular with people from around the country and around the world.
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