It all started in 1999 with a lecture series to honor Eric Hilton (1933-2016). Eric, along with his brother Barron and founding Dean James Taylor, was instrumental in convincing his father, Conrad N. Hilton, to fund what would become the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. Dr. Clinton L. Rappole, who then held the Eric Hilton Distinguished Chair, worked with Eric during the early days of the College and established the Eric Hilton Distinguished Chair Alumni Lecture Series. The lecture series, then as it is today, puts a personal spotlight on the speaker, whose story becomes a source of inspiration for students attending the lecture. It is a testament to what Hilton College graduates can achieve.
To capitalize on their collective potential, the lecturers organized as Eric Hilton Distinguished Alumni Club and became officially known as “Eric’s Club” in 2005. Two new lecturers are selected each year from the membership to come “home” to the College to share their stories with current students. Only Hilton College graduates who have been out of school for at least 20 years are considered, and members must be an owner, officer or retired executive in the hospitality industry or an allied field.
Over the years, Eric’s Club has become a vehicle to promote the mission of Hilton College by building a legacy of student inspiration and alumni connectivity, as well as to provide a network of support and resources to the College. The legacy of this distinguished alumni club is to connect, motivate, support and contribute to the College and its students, and to inspire the future leaders of the hospitality industry.
Recent projects initiated by Eric's Club include:
- Generating more than $6 million in individual gifts to the College.
- Spearheading fundraising efforts and contributing to the $500,000 renovation of Alumni Hall.
- Establishing the Eric’s Club Rising Seniors Scholarship Endowment, which provides scholarships to “rising seniors” who are beginning their last two semesters at Hilton College.
- Creating the Gourmet Night/Robert Raulston Scholarship Endowment in memory of their late friend and former classmate. This endowment provides scholarships to Gourmet Night student managers who demonstrate exceptional leadership skills.
To learn more about Eric’s Club, please contact our Alumni Office at 713.743.1523 or email EricsClub@uh.edu. The next Eric Hilton Distinguished Chair Alumni Lecture Series is slated for Thursday, November 9, at 10 a.m. in Alumni Hall. The featured speaker is Joe Bendy, CCM, CCE (’89), chief operating officer and GM of the River Oaks Country Club. Be there to be inspired!