To help kick off the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration's 100th anniversary celebrations, on April 22 Hotelies revived the tradition of the Server Derby – a modern take on the Parisian Waiter's Race, in which students tried to avoid spilling trays of soup as they ran across Ho Plaza.

Nolan Hotel School to commemorate 100th anniversary

A yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration kicked off at the 97th annual Hotel Ezra Cornell, the school’s signature student-run conference and hospitality event, which was held April 21-24.

The Nolan Hotel School – part of the SC Johnson College of Business – will hold a series of other celebratory events throughout the year.

“Over the course of a century, Cornell’s modest experiment in collegiate education for hoteliers has undergone continuous transformation to become what is far and away the world’s preeminent hospitality business school,” said Kate Walsh, Nolan Hotel School dean.

A large crowd celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration at the annual Hotel Ezra Cornell.

“Our tremendous success is a result of a strong and innovative vision to develop service-minded leaders, a world-class faculty of industry-focused thought leaders and caring teachers, a dedicated and passionate community of alumni who pay it forward, and a relationship-driven, experiential educational model that brings our faculty and alumni together to prepare, launch and hire our industry’s future leaders,” she said.

The school opened on Sept. 20, 1922, with courses in hotel operations management. The program’s original 11 transfer students graduated in 1925; the first four-year class followed in 1926.

From there, the program developed and began sending its graduates on to create and run businesses in all aspects of hospitality, including institutional investing, real estate, ownership, private equity, global brands, food and beverage, online travel and data analytics.

In September 2021, a landmark gift from Peter Nolan ’80, MBA ’82, and Stephanie Nolan ’84, established the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration and provided scholarship funding for future generations of hospitality business leaders.

“We look forward to another 100 years of continued, thoughtful growth and abundant opportunities for our students, alumni, faculty and staff, and for the active engagement with our valued hospitality industry partners,” said Andrew Karolyi, dean of the SC Johnson College.

Notable alumni currently leading the industry include Marriott CEO Tony Capuano ’87, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts CEO Keith Barr ’92, Hilton CFO and president of global development Kevin Jacobs ’94, and CEO of Blau + Associates and notable restaurateur-developer Elizabeth Blau, M.S. ’97. (Blau will be honored at the Cornell Hospitality Icon and Innovator Awards gala on June 7 with the school’sCornell Hospitality Innovator Award.)

Over the next century, Walsh said, the school will prioritize initiatives such as tuition affordability, innovation and curriculum development that harness the power of Cornell, and on deepening the school’s extensive connections with alumni and industry leaders across the globe.

“Being a part of the SC Johnson College of Business only expands our opportunities for trailblazing research, incredible course offerings, and continued focus on and impact for tomorrow’s global hospitality industry,” she said.

Sarah Magnus-Sharpe is director of public relations and communications at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

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