Purdue University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management: A Brief History

Written By: Rebecca Hoffa, rhoffa@purdue.edu

The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management got its start in 1887 in the School of Science as a series of Domestic Economy courses. As interest grew, the School of Science later established a Department of Household Economics in 1905 and developed an Institutional Management program in 1916.

In development of the department’s first “group feeding” class in 1918, President Stone said the department could offer the class as long as it did not cost the University “one cent.” Two lunches per week were served, employing a student as manager; the students were in charge of all planning and execution of the meal and were tasked with selling 40 tickets at 40 cents each. From 1918 to 1923, not one student operated at a loss, fulfilling Present Stone’s requirement, which today’s HTM labs continue to fulfill.

In 1926, the Department of Home Economics became the School of Home Economics, and Institutional Management became its own department. From there, the hospitality and tourism programs took off, adding “Tea Room” services in 1954 and merchandising, selling and lodging classes in 1960.

In 1973, the Department of Institutional Management was renamed Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management (RHI), not becoming Hospitality and Tourism Management until 2000. In 2010, the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management joined the newly formed College of Health and Human Sciences.

The Department of Consumer Science was founded in 1976 by combining three former departments within the School of Consumer and Family Sciences: Clothing and Textiles; Home Management and Family Economics; and Housing, Equipment, and Environmental Design.

In 2019, the Purdue University Board of Trustees approved to change the Department of Consumer Science into the Division of Consumer Science within the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management to bring faculty and students together, creating new collaboration opportunities and helping the programs thrive. Read more about the realignment.

Today, the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has been ranked as a global leader with state-of-the-art facilities and real-world learning opportunities to prepare students for careers in a variety of fields.