Learn Where ICHRIE Began

The Birth of ICHRIE: Foundations of a Professional Educational Association
by Robert H. Bosselman, Professor Emeritus

Downloadable Birth of ICHRIE



The author, now retired, was approached by the ICHRIE Board of Directors in early 2020 and requested to update the “History” (Bosselman, 1996a) for ICHRIE’s 75th Anniversary celebration to be held in Washington, DC, in July 2021. While much of the original work from the History of CHRIE series (note that the author may use CHRIE and ICHRIE throughout the manuscript, as ICHRIE reflects the acronym commonly used today) will be included in this updated history, the author adds considerable information. The original work, published in 1996 as a series of brief articles, focused on the first phase of ICHRIE’s history, the period of 1946-1951. In this revised history, the author will provide background information as to the formation of the association. The current manuscript will follow CHRIE activities until 1969, with the passing of Dr. Howard Bagnall Meek. Dr. Meek has long been considered the founding father of U.S. college-level hospitality education, and he was instrumental in CHRIE’s growth and development in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The original ‘History’ research, conducted in 1995-96, as well as this revision, would best be classified as a qualitative study, as the research methodology centered on interviews of CHRIE members and review of primary documents available. It may also be classified as a historical case study, as it describes a singular organization (Merriam, 1988). In preparing this revised edition, the author consulted the literature accumulated in 1995-96, as well as examining additional manuscripts germane to the topic. The intention of the author was to provide a record of how one educational association came to be, as well as share with readers some of the critical points of this history. The author did not want this work to be exclusively a literature review. While hospitality education has always been a niche field within education in general, nonetheless its origins are important to review and analyze so that we may find new and better answers to old and recurring questions and problems. Partner (2013, 3) noted that historical research “provides a framework that supports the investigation of what we mean by historical knowledge, the interpretive operations that turn traces of the past into ‘evidence of’ some larger set of meanings that emerge over time”.

While change has been and always shall be constant, reviewing history does allow us to draw relevant information that may assist in current situations. We may not agree with decisions made by our predecessors, but those decisions can inform how we can move forward towards the future. This current history remains incomplete, as many records do not exist, or have not yet been located. It should be noted that ICHRIE has had several office locations (U.S. Office of Education in Washington, DC; American Hotel Association offices in Washington, DC; Cornell University; National Club Association office in Washington, DC; Lionel Brookins home in Chesapeake, VA, as well as a storage area in Norfolk, VA; Penn State University; National Restaurant Association DC offices; and to current office in Richmond, Virginia) since its origin in 1946, and along that path, many original documents were lost, misplaced, and in at least one instance, lost to fire. According to older CHRIE members, many of the early records were kept by Hilda Watson Gifford (first female graduate of Cornell’s Hotel Administration program and a key early leader within CHRIE). Why and how CHRIE chose to have her hold the association records remains a question that likely cannot be answered, since all the principals involved passed away decades ago. Upon her passing, records held in her home in California were destroyed, as no instructions were given, so her family had no idea of the value of those records (personal conversations with Lendal Kotschevar, 1995-96). The author, in 1995 & 1996, spoke with numerous long-time ICHRIE members (Bosselman, 1995), and received many letters from other CHRIE members describing how they joined CHRIE and what interesting memories they had, as well as utilized libraries holding often hard-to-find records in the preparation of the original manuscript. Quite surprisingly, it was the bound first six conferences (1946-1951) that provided the most detailed information, as they included all activities of those conferences. There are several conferences that have no records (at least not yet located), and many that include only summaries of reports given. The author gratefully acknowledges all those who spoke or wrote to him regarding CHRIE, and the recent assistance of Kathy McCarty and the Richmond ICHRIE office team (particularly Kevin Anderson and Amie Grayson).

The author was not a historian by training. Originally the author viewed the work as an opportunity to learn more about the association and the senior members met during conferences. Speaking with those members and reviewing the written materials available has been an invaluable lesson in understanding the field of hospitality education. In conducting this historical research, the author attempted to follow the advice of Weiler (2011, 253), to “have a self-consciousness about an articulation of who we are, an openness to new approaches and understandings, and a clarity about what we hope to accomplish in our representation of the past”. The purpose of this work was to provide a written history of an educational association, The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (ICHRIE).


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