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Vallen, Jerry


Jerome "Jerry" Jay Vallen is a Las Vegas, Nevada casino executive and founding dean of the Hotel College (Hospitality College) in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was in the restaurant business and Vallen worked for him throughout his teens and young adulthood. He and his two brothers entertained themselves during their childhood years by going to the library and reading. This was a legacy of the Depression era, when there simply wasn't any money to spare for extraneous expenses.

Vallen's first jobs were bellman/assistant manager in a small hotel; auditor, and then property manager at the Pine Tree Point Club. He attended Penn State for a year (working in his dad s restaurant the whole time) and then transferred to the hotel school at Cornell University. After a stint in the armed forces during the Korean War, he returned home and used the GI bill to finish his master's degree. He started on his doctorate, but it would be 20 years before he completed it.

After getting married in 1950 and starting a family, Jerry and his wife Flossie realized that the restaurant business and family life did not mix well, so he decided to stay in education. He spent several summers at the University of Pennsylvania in their graduate school of business and in 1966, interviewed with Jerry Crawford, provost at UNLV.

Vallen and his family moved out to Las Vegas in June of 1967, leaving northern New York during a blizzard and arriving four days later in southern Nevada to find tulips blooming. They decided they liked Las Vegas, found a house right away, and settled in to their new life.

Vallen taught marketing in the hotel college at the beginning of his career and for several years thereafter. Boyce Phillips took the rooms division and George Bussel

taught foods. Their main focus was to attract students, and they worked on making it easier tor students to transfer from out of state. Jerry also thought it was extremely important that the hotel college be independent of university administration control.

Vallen has six books published, including three textbooks that he continues to update, and an oral history about the hotel college completed shortly after he retired in 1989.


University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "The Man Who Started it All." Last modified November 27, 2017. Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Mr. Hospitality." Last modified September 12, 1999.

Florence Vallen Obituary. Last modified June 2017.