GCSC receives $2.5 million donation, largest gift in its history

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Julie Hilton, a local woman of countless achievements, is making her mark at Gulf Coast State College. She stopped in Thursday morning with a $2.5 million check to fund the soon-to-be-created Hilton Hospitality Management & Tourism Program.

Hilton has been working alongside her family for more than 50 years, helping create the thriving tourism and hospitality industry we see today. But it’s only the start of her vision for Bay County.

“There’s no question in my mind that will better educated employees, we’re going to have a better tourism industry,” Hilton said.

That is exactly what her historic donation will be going towards creating.

“So Miss Hilton’s gift is sealing that void, helping us create a more robust program, probably going to attract many more people into the program,” Dr. Sean Preston, Executive Director of the GCSC Foundation, said. “And then we’re hoping to create professionals that will leave our program and make an impact immediately in the tourism and hospitality industry.”

$1 million is going towards enhancing hospitality-related programs on campus.

“This gift I see is helping make that happen and create a vibrant and rigorous that will be good for students, good for employees, good for employers, and great for our community,” Hilton said.

$1 million will be going towards staffing a Katherine Griffin Boatwright Endowed Faculty Chair For Hospitality and Tourism.

“Which will permanently install a hospitality and tourism expert on our faculty and staff,” Dr. Preston said.

In honor of Hilton’s father, funding is being put aside to dedicate and rename one of the campus’ most iconic buildings which is the Advanced Technology Center. The dedication ceremony for the Charles Hilton Center for Advanced Technology and Hospitality Management building will be in July.

The hope is that the building’s new name will remind everyone of the difference the Hilton family made in our growing community.

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