Establishing the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management
When Conrad N. Hilton traveled through Cisco, Texas, in 1919, the only bed available to him was a couch in the lobby of the Mobley Hotel. Conrad Hilton slept on that couch, and then, on the spot, he bought the hotel. Hilton built his empire by decisively seizing opportunity, and in August 1969, he saw his biggest single opportunity yet.
Building a Hospitality College — From the Ground Up
In August 1969, James Taylor, the College's first dean, presented Eric Hilton, Conrad N. Hilton's son, with blueprints, plans and specifications for a hospitality college to be located at the University of Houston. Eric Hilton shared the plans with his brother Barron. "We both thought what an honor it would be to have a school like this in Texas where our father really got his start," explained Eric.
The brothers presented the plans to Conrad Hilton, who immediately pledged $1.5 million to the project. Classes began on September 16, 1969, and in October, the president of the University of Houston, Phillip Hoffman, hosted a black tie dinner in Conrad Hilton's honor.
"We are honored to be associated with one of the world's most outstanding and successful men in the hotel industry. His name, his gift and his interest in our program will contribute greatly to the development of one of the finest schools of this type anywhere," said President Hoffman.
Today, students work and learn in a $28.8 million complex that includes the 86-room Hilton University of Houston Hotel, a 40,000 square-foot conference center, two full-service restaurants, three ballrooms, banquet facilities, a wine cellar and numerous labs and test kitchens. In the nearly 40 years since the college's founding, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has contributed more than $45 million in scholarships, endowed faculty chairs, building expansions and updates.
Conrad N. Hilton hoped to provide a hospitality college in which men and women could learn from those who came before them and appreciate the cross-section of contemporary life represented within our industry. He wanted "to give students...the opportunity that I did not have."
Conrad N. Hilton's vision is our reality, and our students continue to make the Hilton family proud.