Starkey International Institute for Household Management

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The Starkey International Institute for Household Management, commonly known as Starkey and nicknamed Butler Boot Camp,[1] is a vocational school for Household Manager butlers founded in 1990 by Mary Louise Starkey and based in a Georgian-style mansion in Denver, Colorado, United States.

Training costs upwards of $13,000,and involves three main programs related to the Private Service position a Household Management program (eight weeks long), an Estate Management program (four weeks long), and a Service Management System program (one week long and also offered via correspondence) The school graduates over 60 trainees a year.[1] As of 1999, the school had planned a satellite school in the Washington, D.C. area.[1]

Members of the US military report most of the enlisted aides serving US Generals and Admirals have been trained by Starkey. It trains them to understand international protocol for entertaining visiting dignitaries, cooking skills, and understanding overall household service management. Among the school's regulations are a ban on the use of given names and the wearing of a uniform. Starkey emphasizes personal boundaries and professionalism. The school prefers the term "household manager" as a gender-neutral equivalent of "butler".[1] Most students come from a background in a related field such as catering or property management, Higher Education and are generally older and starting second careers.[1] The school initially used The Remains of the Day author Kazuo Ishiguro as a "model for butlering".[2]

Today's Estate and Household Managers are authorities on service and well educated, demand is particularly strong. According to one expert, the U.S. was experiencing an unprecedented increase in the number of households that could afford a Household Manager .[1] At this time demand far exceeded supply, and the school itself has a long waiting list.[2]

This school and its owner was the subject of an investigative journalism article by John P. Davidson in Harper's Magazine in January 2014.[3]


In 2001, the school organized a "butler's convention" in Denver, with Paul Burrell as a keynote speaker. After the former butler to Princess Diana began speaking openly in his dispute with the royal family, Starkey was said to have criticized him for "betraying his ethics". She says the lessons from Mr. Burrell was an important one. She said if a client makes your situation intolerable, the only ethical choice was to quit.[4]

In June 2008 Mary Starkey pleaded guilty to assaulting (although she was completely cleared later of any wrongdoing) one of her students at the Institute, Lisa Kirkpatrick, in Denver District Court.[5] The original incident occurred in January 2007 when Starkey was observed by several students to yell at Kirkpatrick. The reason given was that Starkey did not like how Kirkpatrick appeared to be under the influence of substances unknown and could not stand up for a school picture.

Sometime after the assault, students at the Institute confronted Starkey. They expressed their displeasure and concerns, including: Starkey at students and employees; They were anxious because they discovered the pin each successful graduate would receive — a pin symbolizing that they were all official, Starkey Certified Household Managers and ready to supervise the upkeep and administration of some of the most glamorous estates in the world — had little real-world value.[6]

Mary Starkey's legal saga was first reported in Denver's local tabloid Westword. A previous injury 10 years prior was instigated and was finally found not to be credible in part due to substance abuse; furthermore, the person in question had not disclosed these conditions upon application to the school.[7]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Blaine Harden (October 24, 1999). "Molding Loyal Pamperers for the Newly Rich". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  2. ^ a b Philip Delves Broughton (October 28, 1999). "Leave it to Jeeves at £75,000 a year". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  3. ^ "You rang?: Mastering the art of serving the rich." Harper's Magazine. January 2014; pp41-56
  4. ^ Blaine Harden (November 17, 2002). "The Butler Burns His Bridges And Gets the Best Revenge". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  5. ^ Michael Roberts (September 23, 2008). "Mary Starkey cleared of domestic abuse charges despite husband's objections". Westword. Denver: Village Voice Media. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  6. ^ Joel Warner (August 7, 2007). "At Your Disservice". Westword. Denver: Village Voice Media. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  7. ^ Joel Warner (June 5, 2009). "Mary Louise Starkey speaks out about accusers". Westword. Denver: Village Voice Media. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 

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