Honoring Professor Howard Bagnall Meek

An Excerpt from the Hotelie Magazine Archives

By: kdr57
Howard Bagnall Meek surveys the model for Statler Hall

Howard Bagnall Meek surveys the model for Statler Hall.

Howard Bagnall Meek was the sole professor of the new Program in Hotel Management when it held its first day of classes at Cornell on September 20, 1922.

Later, his crowning achievement as dean was the establishment of the Program in Hotel Administration as a freestanding school. The following excerpt—which was originally published in a 1952 Bulletin of the Cornell Society of Hotelmen—was republished in the 90th Anniversary edition of Hotelie Magazine.

hb meek stands with a group of students who are sitting on a outdoor staircase
Dean Howard Bagnall Meek stands with students from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration in 1955.

The school had its birth in a little cubby hole up under the eaves in Comstock Hall (then the Home Economics Building) where Don [Prof Meek] dispossessed some pigeons, cleaned out the cobwebs, and then with a few old boxes and orange crates and such for office equipment, and with Lena Swartwood at a typewriter out in the hallway, he released the news that a high-grade education in all matters relating to the management of hotels was now available and called for volunteers to “come and get it.”

hb meek drinking soda out of glass bottle
Howard Bagnall Meek in 1934.

Professor Meek began to surround himself with a staff that was to inspire and stimulate us. There was Frank Randolph shaking a slide rule at us and attempting to make us conscious of the relationship of physics, BTUs, and KWHs to hotel engineering. There was Louis Toth with a night transcript and a morning report, teaching us to substitute the percentage of occupancy for the percentage of egg production; there were Jessie Boys and Lois Farmer giving new meanings to poached eggs or angel food cake; there was Schuttie laughing at Jack Crandall and me as we shinnied up a hot steam pipe when a bull objected to being butchered and shook himself loose.

In those early days, we had our bull sessions; we dreamed and planned as I suppose normal undergraduates always do. We intended to conquer the world, specifically the hotel world. We intended to organize corporations, to open new hotels, to really grab the hotel business by the tail and subdue it.

Celebrating 100 Years

To celebrate 100 years of hospitality education at Cornell University, the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration is publishing select Hotelie Magazine articles and excerpts online for the first time ever.

This excerpt is from “Thumbnail Sketch of the Origin of the Cornell Society of Hotelmen” by John Courtney, Class of 1925. It was originally published in the Bulletin of the Cornell Society of Hotelmen in June 1952.