To the Editor:
There are maybe a dozen world-renowned “Billion Dollar Brands” in U.S. higher education —
actually priceless brands in many cases.
Three that come quickly to mind are Harvard Business School, Wharton School of Business and
The Cornell Hotel School.
This third renowned brand was recently purchased for $50 million, and its name was changed
for the selling. Once again, Cornell failed at valuing its own brands that have been built up and
made to stand for something over decades. To Cornell, if everything has a price, like seats in
theaters and buildings on campus, why not extend the process to even priceless college names?
Fifty million dollars for the opportunity to rename the world class Cornell Hotel School. The
purchasers got a real bargain. Did Cornell? Did the Hotel School alumni?
At the 2022 reunion this September I attended the “One Hundred Year Celebration of The Hotel
School.” To find out that it was labeled “100 Years of the Nolan School” came off as a pedantic
cry for attention, underwritten with money that turns Cornell administration heads all the way
around like Lewis Carroll cartoons. To have my name tag say: “Jim Quest, 1956 graduate of
The Nolan School” (which has existed for perhaps three years) was nauseatingly inaccurate and
You can’t buy heritage or respect. And Cornell can’t really sell it either. But they tried.
I will forever respect the Cornel School of Hotel Administration. The Nolan School?
As for the Cornell brand itself … I suppose it depends on how much they get for its name.
J.H. Quest ’56