In 1967, when UNLV was still referred to as “Nevada Southern,” a group of daring boys gathered in the desert to attempt their luck at a new hotel school simply east of the Las Vegas Strip. Little did they know they would be on the ground floor of something huge.
The following excerpts were taken from interviews performed in October 2017 with some pioneering graduates of the UNLV College of Hotel Administration– now known as the Harrah College of Hospitality:
Pat Moreo is a former teacher at UNLV and current professor and dean at the University of Southern Florida, Sarasota-Manatee. He is a New York City native.
Bill Paulos, ’69, is the co-founder and former owner of Cannery Casino Resorts. He matured near New York City.
John Porter, ’69, is a managing partner of Benbow Historic Inn. He hails upstate New york city.
Jay “Costs” Sanderson, ’70, is a table game director for Boyd Gaming. He hails upstate New york city.
Roger Wagner, ’69, is a former hotel/gaming executive. He matured in Stone City, Nevada.
Other than for Roger, you all concerned UNLV from the East Coast. What inspired you to take a trip across the nation to participate in college?
PAT MOREO: Several of us from neighborhood college in Brooklyn applied to Oklahoma State University and were accepted. In April of 1967, our director pertains to see us all and states, “Don’t you desire a management program?” We did, however we couldn’t pay for Cornell, and it was difficult to discover a location that would accept our credits. He said, “You ought to use to this brand-new program in Las Vegas.” I believed, You got to be kidding me. This is April; we’re starting classes in September! We all applied [to UNLV] and got in. We bailed out of Oklahoma State.
COSTS PAULOS: Among our preferred instructors, Sam Douglas [from State University of New York City], stated, “Listen, I was just hired as the brand-new dean of the hotel school out in Las Vegas. If you go, you can have all your credits accepted. You can get a bachelor’s in 2 years.” We [Paulos, John Porter, Jay “Expense” Sanderson, and the late Larry Griewisch] looked at each other and said, “Sure, why not?” So we arrived here [at UNLV], unpacked, went downstairs and instantly requested for Sam Douglas. They stated, “There’s no Sam Douglas here.” So, we wound up here not knowing a soul, and the one man who hired us here was a no call, no show.
Exactly what did your parents think of your going to school in Las Vegas?
PAULOS: It got us out of the house. We were 2,500 miles away from our parents. They were pretty happy.
JOHN PORTER: I think my parents were concerned I was moving up until now from the home of “Sin City.” They didn’t understand it.
MOREO: We had never been west of Buffalo. They were surprised.
How did you make your way to UNLV, Roger?
ROGER WAGNER: I pertained to UNLV on a track scholarship, however I had no genuine significant in mind. I had been working the graveyard shift at the Dunes Hotel as a space clerk. I stated, “You know what? I like the environment where people want to come invest their loan, not due to the fact that their water heater broke or they got ill and required a physician. This is where people wanted to come and have a good time in a hospitality environment. I want to be a part of that.” And I signed up with the Hotel School.
You five became part of the brand-new hotel program’s extremely small inaugural class. Provide us a sense of what the UNLV school resembled when you showed up.
PORTER: Bill [Paulos] and I flew out together. I’m a country young boy, and Billy’s a city young boy. We’re landing in Las Vegas, and Paulos leans across and states, “Port, there are no buildings.” I leaned over and stated, “Willy, there are no trees or yard.” It was quite sparse. One dorm room. It was simply us and a few other kids from New York and California.
PAULOS: Ninety-nine percent of our classes were in Grant Hall, weren’t they?
MOREO: Our classes remained in Grant Hall up on the second floor, and we were with the College of Business, department of jotel administration.
WAGNER: Then we had the education building, and the library was one story in those days.
JAY “EXPENSE” SANDERSON: Yes, the library was right in the middle.
PAULOS: Well, these people never knew where the library was anyhow, and it was just the third structure on campus. [Laughter.]
MOREO: Tonopah Hall [dormitory] had actually simply been built. We were the first to move in.
SANDERSON: We [Sanderson, Paulos, Porter, and Griewisch] pledged a fraternity pretty rapidly due to the fact that rent was only $35 at the fraternity home. We didn’t pay very frequently, but we didn’t owe much.
PORTER: We took the house [Kappa Sigma] over. Meetings and celebrations were held there. We had a blast. The four of us had a pact: If any of us won at poker, we ‘d divide the cash 4 methods. We got implicated of taking down the grade-point average of the fraternity. We were not the culprits.
When you concerned UNLV in 1967, was there any sense that the Hotel School was going to become one of the top programs on the planet?
WAGNER: I have no idea that at our age in those days we were looking that far ahead. My objective was to obtain a degree from a certified college that would assist kick down the door to a job opportunity– that would take me beyond my front desk job at the Dunes. By the way, it makes you look so obsolete when you see that all people worked in joints they exploded years earlier, and we’re still around.
MOREO: I think we understood that something special was cooking.
Exactly what are a few of the things this college should take pride in as we commemorate its 50th anniversary?
PORTER: The school needs to be proud of going from of its humble beginnings to the top hotel school in the nation– on the planet. A lot of people deserve a lot of credit.
MOREO: And continuing its concentrate on bridging between academics and industry. That’s the strength of the college.
WAGNER: I ‘d bet you that for vice presidents, presidents, CEOs, and top-level positions, [the Hotel School has] among the very best lineups. At the end of the day, exactly what you end up in graduates and how they do tells you how great the school is.
SANDERSON: I concur with that. It is incredible exactly what [the Hotel School has] done, thinking about where it started. UNLV was really helpful of young people. I keep returning to the internships, due to the fact that they got [students] away from their desk, and they in fact saw what was going on in the hotel service and how it ran. It gave them the confidence when they entered a position.
PAULOS: People from all over the world want to come to UNLV to go to the Hotel School. To believe that Jerry [Dean Jerry Vallen] did that, going from practically absolutely nothing to what we have today, and to look at this incredible brand-new building [UNLV’s brand-new Hospitality Hall] that will be the standard for structures on campus– let alone the Hotel School– it’s quite special.