MARTHA POLLACK: I want to thank everyone for coming today-- not just all of you who are here in person outside Sage Hall, but those of you who are watching via the live stream. I am just so glad to be together with all of you-- most of you in person, many of you more virtually-- celebrating a really historic milestone for our School of Hotel Administration.
And I'm delighted to welcome to campus and to introduce the Cornell alumni who brought us here today-- where are-- oh, there they are-- Peter J Nolan, Bachelor of science from CALS and Dyson class of '80, MBA '82; and Stephanie Nolan, Bachelor of Science from the School of Hotel Administration '84. Please stand up.
Peter and Stephanie really are the epitome of an involved Cornell family. Not only are they both Cornellians, but all three of their children are also Cornell graduates-- Michael, Dyson CALS class of '16; Robert, Dyson CALS class of '18, and Elly, Hotel '20 and Johnson MPS '21. Peter has held just about every volunteer position imaginable at Cornell. He's been a presidential counselor, an emeritus trustee of the Cornell Board of Trustees, a member of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business Leadership Council, and a member of the Cornell University Council, to name just a few of the many roles he's had over the years.
And he and Stephanie have supported students and family across the university with tremendous philanthropy to the Dyson School, the Johnson School, CALS, and the Cornell Athletic Fund, as well as ongoing support to athletics, to Greek life, to Hotel Administration, to student and campus life. Really, their generosity just goes on and on and on. As such, they've enriched Cornell immeasurably, and in so many ways. And I am just thrilled that they've chosen to add to that philanthropy in a way that's going to leave a profound on Cornell and on Cornellians for generations to come-- a new gift of $50 million to name the School of Hotel Administration.
Peter and Stephanie, you couldn't see the gaps behind you, but there were gasps across the audience. For nearly a century, Cornell School of Hotel Administration has provided the most relevant, groundbreaking hospitality education in the world. Its faculty, through their scholarship, shape the entire industry, and its alumni, our Hotelie graduates, are in leadership positions across the globe.
Personally, I cannot tell you how many times I've checked into a hotel somewhere around the world only to have a Hotelie at the front desk warmly welcome me. And again, you're all nodding. When you check into a hotel anywhere in the world, make sure you say you're affiliated with Cornell University. You'll be treated incredibly well.
The Nolans' extraordinarily generous gift does something that's particularly meaningful and particularly important to my priorities. It's going to ensure that any student in the Cornell sense can become a Hotelie, because it's going to support affordability, and in so doing, it will enable so many students from all backgrounds to benefit the world-class education and opportunities that we offer here at Cornell. So I am just delighted, thrilled to be recognizing this gift with the naming of the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration.
And now I'd like to introduce the Dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Andrew Karolyi.
ANDREW KAROLYI: Well, thank you, President Pollack. Today is indeed a very special day. You gathered here and those of you on live stream all know that our School of Hotel Administration is already world-renowned for its undergraduate program, for its graduate programs in hospitality and real estate. With the generosity of Peter and Stephanie Nolan, this gift will transform the school by offering even greater access to many more students.
I couldn't be more proud to be part of this celebration today. When I reflect on this gift and what it can mean for those future students who will benefit, I think about what EM Statler once said about how life is service. The one who progresses is the one who gives a little more, a little better service.
I imagine in my mind's eye that Statler's words about service were actually his own reflections about the Cornell origin story, about any person in any study. I believe he had the idea of an institution and a very special school, his beloved school of hotel administration, that could show the way for others to pay it forward. I also think about Statler's message of service for the greater good and the words of Fisk Johnson, who spoke at our [INAUDIBLE] lecture this past May.
He talked about how business can be a force for social good. Fisk was speaking about his father Sam, and he-- how Sam always talked about the importance of community. He quoted his father and the words of Herbert F Johnson senior, saying that the goodwill-- it is the goodwill of people that is the only enduring thing in any business. Fisk emphasized Sam's own lifelong goal-- and I wrote these words down during the lecture-- of living up to the expectations of our children.
So dear friends, the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, drawing on its Cornell DNA, true to the legacy of the founding faculty members, alumni, leaders, those who have come before us, and through the incredible Dyson School, the Johnson Graduate School of Management, and the School of Hotel Administration transcends the boundaries of business education. How?
Well, in the spirit of entrepreneur, inventor, and founder Ezra Cornell, our business research transforms critical thinking into practical solutions through its innovative, experiential, immersive, and engaged learning. We pioneered it. It's so foundational to what we do. Founding dean of SHA, HB Meek, said in 1922, quote, "I think that people grow and develop by doing things, by throwing their hat into things."
We know how to transform. The world of business education. We know how to collaborate. We collaborate within our college, across Cornell, and well beyond. We know how to mobilize our breadth of expertise, how to generate world-class knowledge, how to be agile as business leaders, how to be entrepreneurial. And we know how to prepare students from everywhere to become principled people-centered business leaders for anywhere, and ultimately to impact society in a positive manner to create a sustainable and shared prosperity.
Peter and Stephanie, thank you for this wonderful gift, a gift that will support scholarship for hotel students. It extends even further across the college by activating the challenge funds provided by Fisk Johnson and the SC Johnson family. It will enhance scholarship endowments of both the Nolan Family Scholarship Fund for undergraduate students at our Dyson School, as well as the Peter and Stephanie Nolan Veterans Professional Scholarships Fund for US military veterans at-- enrolled at the Johnson School.
This is truly a remarkable story of advocacy and love for their Cornell, the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. And with my whole heart, I thank you. We thank you. And now it's my great pleasure to bring to the podium my dear colleague Kate Walsh-- and I'm going to pause here, because I'm going to say the words-- the dean-- EM Statler Dean-- of the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration.
KATE WALSH: I was just saying I really, really like the sound of that. Thank you so much, Andrew. Hi, everyone. Oh, what a pleasure it is to be here on this beautiful day. As President Pollack was saying, and Dean Karolyi, for close to a century-- it will be a century next year-- the School of Hotel Administration has pushed the boundaries of knowledge, education, research in all facets of hospitality and real estate.
And as the students here know, Hotelie's life is service. Our school is and always has been guided, as I was a student and as a faculty member for the past 20 years, by a few core principles. That our founding deans and all of the faculty held. The first is service is a leadership mindset. Our community embodies the meaning of hospitality, as we work to make a difference in the lives of everybody. We clearly see how hospitality connects people around the World-- no more salient than these past 18 months.
The second is that the most meaningful educational experience is experiential. We don't just teach service-based business-- our students live it. They know this, all the students here, through the many, many, many, many group projects we put you all through, through our classes, through establishment night, where all of our students learn how to become really generous, caring colleagues with one another so that, one day, they'll be other-centered leaders for our industry, for our world.
And the third is-- and there are alumni who have made the trip for this announcement, and all of you on the live stream-- once a Hotelie, always a Hotelie. And community and relationships are at the heart of the educational and alumni experience. And as President Pollack said, indeed, wherever you are across the globe, you will find a Hotelie ready to extend a hand and to pay it forward.
Our alumni give so much to support our school, our college, and Cornell, and nowhere is that evident more than today. Thanks to the deep care and generosity of the Nolan family, the School of Hotel Administration-- or can I proudly say the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration-- will continue to be the premier school for hospitality education around the world.
What an amazing legacy the Nolan family is creating for our next century and beyond. This incredible gift will impact generations of Hotelies to come, and will enable our school as part of the exciting college and Cornell to shape the future of our industry and, as Dean Karolyi said, our world, as we continue to prepare the leaders of tomorrow, who put service at the heart of everything they do. We have to commemorate this moment-- the most extraordinary gifts for each and every one of you, Nolan Cornell Hotelie T-shirts.
I know-- and a face mask too. But we would like to invite Stephanie and Peter to come on up as the first recipients-- just what you wanted-- of the Nolan T-shirt.
Thank you so much. Really, so grateful-- thank you for everything. Thank you so much, Peter. We have T-shirts available for everyone.
PETER NOLAN: [INAUDIBLE]
KATE WALSH: Yeah. Andrew, you should please join us for--
ANDREW KAROLYI: Do I get a T-shirt?
KATE WALSH: Yeah, absolutely.
STEPHANIE NOLAN: [INAUDIBLE], right?
KATE WALSH: That's very strange--
ANDREW KAROLYI: That's great. Thank you. That was great.
KATE WALSH: I'm told-- Peter, you can tell me if this is correct-- Ellie is called Ellie [INAUDIBLE]? Their daughter-- yes. Our students are amazing. And it's my great pleasure to introduce to you the podium our Nolan school senior and advisory board chair, Kassie Henderson, who's going to share a few remarks.
KASSIE HENDERSON: Thank you, Dean Walsh. Good afternoon, everyone. As Dean Walsh mentioned, my name is Kassie Henderson, and I'm a senior in the Hotel School from Sarasota, Florida. In my role as the chair of the Dean Student Advisory Board, and more importantly, a first-generation student, I personally understand the impact that your gift has on the lives of many here today.
When I began applying to college during my senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to study hospitality. I had my heart set on Cornell School of Hotel Administration, knowing that it was the preeminent hospitality school in the nation. However, as Cornell is an Ivy League University, I felt that it might have been out of my reach due to the financial obligations required to attend.
As I was trying to make my college decision, my neighbor informed me that Cornell is founded in the beliefs of any person, any study, with the financial frameworks to support this statement. Fast forward four years later-- I am grateful to not only be a Cornell student, but to have been given the privilege to deliver a speech here today on a topic that has meant so much to me.
Having a gift like this means that any person, regardless of means or background, can become a Hotelie. Through your gift, you're providing an opportunity to strengthen a community of individuals who have the motivation to succeed, but without the financial support to do so. You are enhancing the life trajectory of individuals who are currently unaware that they will be our leaders of tomorrow.
I would like to thank you, Nolan family, from the bottom of my heart for your generous gift. I thank you on behalf of the hundreds of students' lives you will impact for the better. I hope to make an impact as great as yours one day. And I now have the pleasure to invite up to the stage Peter Nolan.
PETER NOLAN: Thank you, Kassie. She's terrific. She's going to be running Blackstone one day, right? No doubt-- anyways, thank you, Martha. Thank you, Andrew. Thank you, Kate. Thank you to all the folks that had us here today. I finally discovered what it takes to get a cold T-shirt and a really good parking spot.
OK. So in case you ever wondered, parking here's tough to get. Anyways, I'm going to just acknowledge a couple of people in the audience-- my sister Mary-- she's a CALS grad, along with myself; my brother-in-law Peter Dates; Rich John, who is my advisor-- he's also your county legislator for the college town district, so if you don't like the roads, talk to Rich; his wife Vicki; my brother-in-law Scott, who works for the university in many different roles. And I want to make sure I don't forget to introduce my inspiration, my wife Stephanie. Stand up, Stephanie.
She doesn't like to speak in public. Neither do I, but I put up with it. But she's the Hotelie. In fact, I was thinking about it-- I never took a hotel course the entire time I was here. I was going to take wines, but it conflicted with happy hours, so-- I was at the Haunt, those of you who have been around for a while.
But anyways, 30 years ago, Stephanie and I were married in Ithaca this summer, and our reception was at the Willard Strait. And 30 years ago, it was $250 to rent the Willard Strait, which was cheap then. It was a great bargain. But Cornell's been a big part of our family. Stephanie is-- she grew up in Ithaca. I grew up in Upstate New York as well. And it's been truly a privilege to have our name associated with the world's preeminent hotel school.
As my daughter Ellie-- who I see in the back someplace-- tells me, it is the happiest school on campus. And that's self-evident, when you go to graduation, how they cheer. I was fortunate enough to serve as a trustee for about 12 years at Cornell, and under Beth Garrett's administration, the College of Business was formed.
I remember basically how passionate and how vocal the hotel alumni were about this College of Business. They weren't exactly thrilled about it. And I don't know, but my sense is that that water's become calm, and they see the benefit to having such an impressive group of schools and colleges under one roof.
I'm going to name drop. A couple of years ago, I happened to be seated at a dinner next to Larry Summers. I'm sure there's some of you who don't know who Larry Summers is, so anyways, Larry was the chairman of the Council of-- National Economic Council for Obama. He also worked for Clinton. He was also the President of Harvard until a-- had a no confidence vote by the faculty-- had something to do with some comments he made about women and the STEM fields, and the faculty didn't like it that much.
But anyways, I digress. So at this event, he said, where'd you go to school? Well, I went to Cornell. He stopped and he goes, Cornell-- don't they have that hotel school? And being an aggie, I thought he was going to go after the ag school. I'm more used to that. And I go, well, yes, Larry, they do. And it's just kind of interesting that everything about Cornell, from a former Ivy League-- former Ivy League president-- he mentioned the Hotel School. And he may have been doing it to take a shot at Cornell, but I didn't care.
So as we all know, the Hotel School isn't just about the hotel industry. Its students enter into the hospitality and hotel field. Of course, it's the preeminent school in the world, but they also excel in finance, and technology, and many, many other fields. One of the Hotel Schools values-- and I did not corroborate with the earlier speakers-- is service. And people who have a commitment to service make the best leaders.
Just another short story-- I ran a firm called Leonard Green & Partners. It's a $50 billion private equity firm until seven years ago. And we bought about six-- literally six different restaurant companies, and we lost money on six out of six. And the seventh came along, and it was a company called Shake Shack. And a hotel grad, Randy Garutti, was the CEO, and we all said, this is the one we're going to do. So we made a lot of money on the seventh. It made up for all the losses on the other six.
We also owned a company in a restructuring called the Palms Casino in Las Vegas-- was a very hot place at one point, but it fell on hard times. We went through three CEOs, and finally we hired a Hotel graduate, a guy named Todd Greenberg, and he successfully turned that casino around, and we sold it to Station Casinos at a big gain. And so what I've learned is, if you're going to do something in the hospitality industry, make sure you get a Cornell grad.
A really good friend of mine once told me that the highest level of self-actualization is to be your own boss. And that's what I decided to do, and I hope many of you students out there go work in the industry. Go work at Blackstone. Go work at wherever you're going to work. But if you do get the chance to take a shot and be your own boss, do it.
Even though I ran Leonard Green & Partners, I wanted to basically run my own show. And that's why, when I went to my partners after working with them for actually over 25 years through a couple of different careers, they were shocked. And I said, I'm not going to have as much money, but I'm going to be my own boss. And I have to tell you, I love it. I love it.
Area another element of self-actualization is the service to others. If you can do something for someone that doesn't deserve it, maybe doesn't even know it-- maybe you don't even meet them-- that's one of the most gratifying things that you can do. And so when Stephanie and I discussed this gift, it was important to us to be of service to the students, to make Cornell and the Cornell Hotel School more accessible.
So we're thrilled to be here. We're thrilled to have our name associated with just the very best school in this industry. And it really is a gift to us to be able to do this, to be in a position to do this. And I want to thank you and thank everyone. I think Martha's going to close up.
MARTHA POLLACK: So first of all, Peter, I want to say, if you still want to take the wines course, we're happy to have you sit in it-- no tuition, free to you.
PETER NOLAN: I'm like Biden. I forgot my mask.
MARTHA POLLACK: You forgot your mask? It's not up here.
PETER NOLAN: Oh, it's not?
MARTHA POLLACK: No. It really is an amazing day. Peter and Stephanie Nolan really are just extraordinarily generous-- not just with their wealth, but with their time. And the gift they've given is just going to make a difference to generations, and generations, and generations of students. So Peter and Stephanie, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of those generations of students, thank you very, very much.
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On Friday, September 17, 2021, Cornell President Martha Pollack announced a historic gift from Peter Nolan ’80, MBA ’82 and Stephanie Nolan ’84 to name the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, during a celebration held on the Ithaca campus.