Skip to main content

Hilton College Marks 50 Years with Golden Anniversary Gala

HOUSTON – September 25, 2019 – Five decades after Conrad Hilton presented his $1.5 million gift to establish Texas’ first hospitality school, the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management will celebrate its 50th year with a Golden Anniversary Gala on Tuesday, October 15 at The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston.

Starting with a class of 39 students and three adjunct professors in the fall of 1969, Hilton College today stands as a world leader in hospitality education with some 1,000 students from 54 countries, more than 30 full-time faculty members and seven degree programs, including a Ph.D. in Hospitality Administration and a minor in Beverage Management and Marketing. 

“Conrad Hilton embodied the spirit of hospitality and, along with our world-class faculty and staff, it is an honor to carry on his legacy,” says Dr. Dennis Reynolds, the dean and Barron Hilton Distinguished Chair at Hilton College.

While the college’s storied past began 50 years ago when Conrad Hilton announced his naming gift at a dinner held at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel, its campus presence and teaching hotel was established in March 1974.

Among its many accolades,

  • The college is the world’s only hospitality program where students work and take classes in an internationally branded, full-service hotel – the Hilton University of Houston.
  • The Spec’s Beverage & Food Appreciation Laboratory at Hilton College is the only facility of its kind between the U.S. coasts dedicated to wine education and research. It also offers tastings and food demonstrations.
  • Hilton College-San Antonio opened in 2014 as the city’s first and only provider of a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
  • In 2008, the college opened Cougar Grounds®, the nation’s first student-run coffee shop that also serves as a platform for coffee education.   
  • The college’s Massad Family Library Research Center houses the Hospitality Industry Archives – the world’s largest and only repository for the hospitality industry. In addition to major collections of papers and memorabilia from the industry’s most iconic leaders, the archives is a treasure trove of hospitality’s past that includes menus from the mid-1800s, historic hotel uniforms, items from JFK’s inaugural ball, a Howard Johnson’s waitress uniform designed by Christian Dior, a scarf worn by Elvis and Elizabeth Taylor and Nick Hilton’s 1950 wedding album, among others.
  • Many of the college’s faculty members are internationally recognized researchers who are involved in cutting-edge research projects with industry partners around the globe. Collectively, they bring more than 450 years of industry experience in every sector of hospitality.
  • The college touts an impressive 92 percent job placement rate.

As for the future, Hilton College continues to make its mark on hospitality education. Upcoming initiatives include a $30.4-million expansion and renovation of its 80-room Hilton University of Houston hotel with the addition of a new, five-story, 70-room guest tower; renovation of its Eric’s Club Center for Student Success where services from recruiting and enrollment to academic advising and career development are all under one roof; and a new, student-run brewpub and fermentation lab where students will make craft beer for customers.  

“These and other endeavors are designed to continue our mission of training the next generation of hospitality leaders by providing the highest level of hospitality education and leading research,” adds Dean Reynolds. “This is by far the most exciting time to be a part of Hilton College.”

Tickets and tables for the Golden Anniversary Gala of the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management are available here.

Gala chairs are Dean Dennis (Hon. ’18) and Julia Reynolds, Pennie Landon and Nick (‘73) and Vicki (Hon. ’03) Massad.


Bernard Kaplan
Kaplan Public Relations

Debbie Maurer