The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded a $1 million grant to Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration for undergraduate scholarship funding. Upon receiving the grant on Feb. 23, the School created the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Scholarship fund, intended to add on to the current-use undergraduate scholarships fund for the next two academic years.
“Cornell is recognized as the leader in hospitality education,” said Brad Myers, a program officer at the Hilton Foundation. “We admire the need blind admissions policy and … in these hard economic times we want to help keep that idea alive and thriving at Cornell.”
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, founded in 1944, states its focus on charitable initiatives in five specific arenas. According to its boilerplate, these include “providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance abuse, caring for vulnerable children, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters.”
In its donation to the Hotel school, the Hilton Foundation specified its intention for the money to be used in the next two years. The funding will be divided equally in the form of two yearly consecutive $500,000 donations.
“The idea is that times aren’t right for everyone in this economic climate. Theoretically, things will bounce back in the next two years,” Myers said.
Despite its recent investment in the School’s budget, funding university and postsecondary educational programs is not a top priority for the Hilton Foundation. Hawley Hilton McAuliffe — who serves on the Board of Directors for both the School of Hotel Administration Dean’s Advisory Board and as a Board Member of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation — has a son enrolled in the Hotel School, which is one of the reasons Cornell is on the Hilton Foundation’s radar.
“In the past, the vast majority of our funding [for education purposes] has gone to the University of Houston, which houses the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. However, we do make a few grants to other universities which support [hospitality management], notably DePaul, the University of Hawaii, and also Cornell,” said Myers.
Since the college’s creation in 1922, Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration has received funding of $1 million or more from only about a dozen other donors. “We extend our deepest gratitude to the Hilton Foundation for this generous gift, one of the largest scholarship gifts in the school’s history,” Dean Michael D. Johnson of the School of Hotel Administration told the Cornell Chronicle. “Thanks to the Hilton Foundation grant and similar gifts, we can continue our need-blind admissions practice while also investing in faculty, academic programs and facilities.”
Students in the School of Hotel Administration’s undergraduate program are optimistic about the recent source of funding.
“I think it’s really important for Cornell — specifically the Hotel School — to keep diversity a priority in terms of the makeup of its student body,” Emily Hauser ‘13, who is a Hotel student, said. “Grants like this one will guarantee that socioeconomically diversity can exist, which is especially important in a major that trains us to deal with all different types of people.”