(Photo) Daisy Purdy, the first head of HRAD, meets with Bill Stone (from left), Melvin Bennett, Victor Cooper and W.L. Cooper, some of the department’s early students.
The School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration program began when Oklahoma A&M College President Henry G. Bennett asked Daisy Purdy, the head of household science department, to form a committee to work on a curriculum plan in hotel administration.
Purdy believed the degree would need a strong business influence because most Oklahoma hotel general managers would be responsible for food service as well as general management. Courses in foods, nutrition, meal management and institutional administration were planned. Architecture and engineering courses were included so the graduates could read blueprints and talk with engineers with authority.
The plans were warmly received, according to Purdy: “After we put together what we considered a good course for such training, I took what we had planned to several outstanding hotel managers in the state for their consideration. … On the whole, they agreed with our thinking.”
The departments of Home Economics, Commerce and Engineering formed the joint program in 1937. It included 30 weeks of supervised employment in a hotel or similar institution. By 1942, a restaurant management course was added. Purdy taught a basic course that was required for all students. The College Cafeteria and Murray Hall were used as laboratories.
By 1948, the School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration had a faculty listing in the school course catalog. In 1950, the Union Club Hotel opened at the new Oklahoma State University Student Union. Now known as the Atherton Hotel at OSU, it has been an integral part of the hotel and restaurant education. The hotel continues to be a professional training ground for hotel operations and guest service skills.