"We take the hamburger business more seriously than anyone else."
- Ray Kroc, Founder of McDonald's
"When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!"
- Ralph Wiggum, The Simpsons
Hamburger University (or just Hamburger U to the initiated) is McDonald's corporate management
brainwashing training center. In the words of mcdonalds.com, it is "Designed exclusively to instruct personnel employed by McDonald's Corporation or employed by McDonald's Independent Franchises in the various aspects of the business." In layman's terms, they teach wannabe management types how best to hawk dead cow meat, and how best to manipulate underlings to do the same. Individual McDonald's restaurants together train more people every year than the US Army, and Hamburger U is where those that will do the training learn how. It is an incredibly important part of the McDonald's corporate infrastructure, and the root of their corporate culture.
Started in 1961 and originally housed in a restaurant basement in Elk Grove, IL, Hamburger U was the world's first corporate university*. That main facility has changed buildings twice, and currently resides in a 130,000 square foot building on McDonald's 80 acre campus in Oak Brook, IL, a suburb of Chicago. Class sizes were as low as 10 in 1961 and all have 200+ students now, from about 120 countries. Hamburger U employs translators that can provide translation to 27 different languages. Around 5,800 students attend the college every year, and it can claim more than 70,000 graduates. Besides the main facility there are others on three other continents, in England, Japan, Germany, and Australia.
Instead of traditional dormitories for Hamburger U, the McDonald's campus includes The Lodge, a three-story hotel owned by McDonald's and managed by Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. It is connected to the main University building by an elevated walkway, so students don't have to be exposed to dangerously non-corporate things like "the outdoors" during their stay. Should they want to try their luck with the real world, the campus also has not one, but two man made lakes.
* I have since heard from Sleeping Wolf that General Motors already had had a corporate university for years in 1961.