PULLMAN, Wash. – Harry Mullikin, one of the world’s foremost hoteliers and a longtime supporter of Washington State University, received the WSU Foundation’s highest honor, the Weldon B. Gibson Distinguished Volunteer Award.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Mullikin, of Seattle, when he was surprised with the honor during the Campaign WSU Recognition Dinner Gala on Oct. 17. “I can’t even express how much this means to me.” The award recognizes outstanding voluntarism on behalf of WSU. It is named after the founder of the WSU Foundation, Weldon B. “Hoot” Gibson, a 1938 alumnus and longtime contributor and volunteer.
After serving as a corporal in the U.S. Air Force for three years, Mullikin enrolled at WSU in 1946. Although he had basic experience in the hotel business, he chose architecture as his major. On the advice of director of admissions Claude Simpson, he changed to hotel and restaurant administration. “It was the best decision I ever made,” said Mullikin.
The death of his father forced Mullikin to withdraw from school prior to graduation. He moved his mother to Seattle and began working full time for what was then known as Western Hotels. In 1953, he was named manager of Spokane’s Davenport Hotel. Four years later, at 30, he returned to Seattle as general manager of the Olympic Hotel. He was later selected to supervise the design, construction, and opening of the Westin’s Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
Mullikin was elected president of Westin Hotels and Resorts in 1973 and chairman and chief executive officer in 1977. He retired in May 1992, after serving 50 years with Westin. He is past president and chairman of the American Hotel and Motel Association, has been honored by the International Foodservice Manufacturer’s Association, and was elected to Hospitality magazine’s hall of Fame. He received WSU’s Alumni Achievement Award in 1973 and the WSU Foundation Outstanding Service Award in 1996.
Mullikin is a permanent member of the WSU Foundation Board of Trustees, having chaired the board from 1992 to 1994. He joined the board in 1989 and has served on the nominating committee, the executive committee, the Campaign WSU Steering Committee and the Campaign WSU Leadership Gifts Committee. He and his wife, Judi, are Benefactors of the University, contributing to the Hotel and Restaurant Administration program and the Westin Professorship, which he helped establish.
“My experience at WSU made a difference in my career and in my life,” says Mullikin. “I admire and appreciate what the University did for me and what it’s doing for others. Judi and I want to assist with that mission in any way we can.”