Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Knoebel School to be dedicated Oct. 19

DU's School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management will be named for Fritz Knoebel in a private ceremony on Oct. 19.

DU’s Daniels College of Business will change the name of the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management to the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at a private naming event on Oct. 19. 

Betty Knoebel, widow of Denver food services pioneer Ferdinand “Fritz” Knoebel, gave DU $17.5 million in May. The Daniels College of Business will use $7.5 million of the gift to increase student scholarships, faculty support, industry partnerships and experiential learning programs. The overarching goal is to achieve international distinction for the school.

“This generous gift will enable us to enhance the hands-on, experiential learning opportunities we provide our students,” says David Corsun, director and associate professor of the Knoebel School. “By moving them out of the classroom and into the work environment, our students integrate their classroom learning and are better prepared for a focused career. This extraordinary gift will help us significantly enhance student learning and grow the reputation of the school.”

Denver native Fritz Knoebel founded Knoebel Mercantile Co. — a bakery distributor — in 1929 and built it into the nation’s largest privately owned food service distribution company. Known as Nobel Inc., it was acquired by Sysco Inc. as a subsidiary in 1982.

Knoebel was chairman of Nobel/Sysco Food Services Co. until his retirement in 1999 at age 90. He died in 2005. Betty Knoebel, now 78, and Fritz received honorary degrees from DU in 1992 in recognition of their role in the Denver business and philanthropic communities.

“We think it particularly appropriate that the school is now named for Fritz Knoebel because he succeeded in building a remarkable enterprise from the ground up,” Corsun says. “The school has a long record of producing very successful entrepreneurs, and many of our students aspire to owning their own businesses. The story of Fritz Knoebel will no doubt inspire these students to pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams.” 

“The School of Hospitality Management is one of only a few hospitality schools in the world housed within a business college,” says Christine Riordan, dean of DU’s Daniels College of Business. “This provides added strength to programs, faculty and student activities through additional resources as well as accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Mrs. Knoebel’s gift will help the school recruit outstanding faculty as well as attract the best and brightest students to become leaders in the hospitality industry.”

Additionally, DU will use the Knoebel gift to establish the Knoebel Center for the Study of Aging, which will expand DU’s role in interdisciplinary research on aging and aging-related conditions.

The Knoebel gift includes the B Bar K Ranch, a 996-acre mountain property valued in excess of $10 million located off North Turkey Creek Road in Morrison, Colo. When the ranch is sold, DU will apply up to $10 million from the net proceeds to help fund construction of facilities to house the Knoebel Center and support its programs and research.

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