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No Reservations: Cindy Kiser Murphey

Once a student leader at UNLV, this alumna is now a driving force at the New York-New York.

People  |  Nov 17, 2017  |  By Angela Ramsey

Cindy Kiser Murphey, '80 BS and '95 MS Hotel Administration. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Creative Services)

Editor's Note: 

This story is part of a series highlighting 50 intriguing alumni as part of the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality’s 50th anniversary celebration.


When contemplating college back in high school, Kansas-born Cindy Kiser Murphey thought she’d study journalism before moving on to law school. A single college fair changed all that. “I saw a booth for hospitality management,” she recalls, “and I instantly knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

She immediately jumped into action. “I told my family I was moving to Las Vegas,” she says. “My mother was enthusiastic. Others in my family were not.”

Armed with her mother’s blessing, Kiser Murphey packed up her car and made her way across the country. “I knew UNLV was very entwined with the hospitality community and that there were so many opportunities.”

Committed to seizing each of those opportunities, Kiser Murphey plunged into her studies and began taking on leadership roles in student organizations, such as the Hotel Association.

”Cindy had a way of getting people involved,” says former classmate and current MGM Resorts International president Bill Hornbuckle. “Still does.”

Kiser Murphey’s experience rallying students at the Hotel School laid the foundation for what would become a storied career. She quickly climbed the ranks as a human resources professional, opening such properties as The Mirage and the MGM Grand. Now, as one of the few female hotel presidents on the Strip, Kiser Murphey encourages others to take advantage of all that the Hotel College has to offer to find their place in the industry.

“There are so many fascinating careers in hotels,” she the former Alumna of the Year. “At UNLV, you’ve got internships, clubs, sight visits … take advantage of these things, and one is going to capture your imagination.”