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Volume 2, Issue 4                                    University of Houston

Hilton College marks 30th year

By Rodney Malapitan
Staff Writer

Things might have gone a little differently for UH if hospitality magnate Conrad Hilton had turned down his son Eric's proposal to build a hotel and restaurant management school at UH.

But Hilton thought it was a good idea, and as a result, the Conrad N. Hilton College -- Texas' first hotel school -- was created. The college marked 30 years of growth and innovation in 1999.

The idea for the school came from James Taylor, the college's first dean. Taylor approached Hilton's son Eric with the proposal and asked him to present it to his father.

"Eric, here it is," Taylor said. "If you could talk your father into developing this and contributing to it, we'd like to call it the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management."

The elder Hilton bought the idea, and the college opened in 1969 with three professors and 39 students. It was the first new college at UH in 20 years.

A $7.5 million, 272,000-square-foot facility, featuring an 80-room hotel, a 100-seat restaurant and a 400-car parking garage, was built to house the college in 1975. A 1989 expansion added meeting and classroom space.

By the 1980s, the college had expanded to include professional degrees in hospitality law, food service and facilities management, as well as accounting and finance.

In 1999, the college enrolled approximately 800 students from more than 30 countries. The college is currently undergoing a $5.1 million renovation, including a new front desk and lobby as well as a redesigned Eric's restaurant.

Although the college had no formal 30th anniversary celebration, the milestone was recognized at the 1999 Gourmet Night, the college's annual fund-raiser. Eric Hilton was master of ceremonies for the March black-tie event, which included a photographic look at the history of the college and its students.

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