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The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Announces $20 Million Endowment at Howard University to Establish the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership

Originally published on news.marriott.com. Marriott ranked No. 1 on the 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. 

Marriott International to create the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund to support the design of a world-class hospitality program and curriculum

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation together with Howard University announced today the establishment of the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership in honor of Marriott International’s (NASDAQ: MAR) beloved president and CEO, Arne Sorenson, who tragically passed away last week from pancreatic cancer. The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation will provide a $20 million endowment to launch the Center at Howard University, one of the nation’s leading historically Black colleges and universities.

In addition, Marriott International announced the creation of the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund which will support the critical programmatic and career development elements of the Center. This Fund is dedicated to helping the industry build leadership talent in hospitality. Marriott has pledged the first donation of $1 million and is inviting other companies, organizations and individuals – from all industries – to support this effort.

The Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership, which will be housed in Howard University’s School of Business, will feature a best-in-class program that expands educational and professional opportunities for Howard students and aims to develop future executives in the hospitality industry.

“I can think of no better tribute to the amazing legacy of Arne Sorenson than to focus on educating and advancing future leaders of the hospitality industry,” said J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, Marriott International. “Arne’s passion for creating a culture of opportunity brought real change in the executive ranks of our company. But work remains to be done. Our industry needs a pipeline of diverse leadership talent and that’s exactly what this Center will achieve. We are proud to bring Marriott International and our family foundation together to partner with this esteemed university in the city of our founding. This innovative program will foster leadership excellence and help drive greater inclusion at the most senior levels of the hospitality industry. We hope that other hospitality companies will join us in designing the program and providing experiential opportunities to generate talent that will meet the needs of the industry well into the future.”

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“Now is the opportune time to launch this work,” said Mieka Wick, Executive Director, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “The hospitality industry is evolving in new and exciting ways and there is a clear need for a forward-looking program designed to prepare leaders for this dynamic environment. A deeper commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is imperative, not only because it is the right thing to do but because it is also good for the industry. The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation has a long-standing commitment to creating opportunity for all in the hospitality industry. Howard University, one of the nation’s finest historically Black colleges and universities, is ideally suited to partner with us, given the extraordinary students it serves.”

“Lack of diversity in the executive ranks of companies across America has long been a headline and has been further elevated in the national conversation as we are in this important moment of racial reckoning,” said Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, President, Howard University. “Through this partnership with The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and Marriott International, we are best positioned to further our existing commitment and address this most pressing issue. As I have gotten to know the Marriott family over the years, I have been impressed with their commitment to the community and excellence. This program will be a game-changer for Howard University students and the hospitality industry by designing unique educational opportunities that meet the future demands of the industry, shaping the already promising talents and passions of our business students, and connecting those students with meaningful careers in the industry. What we are creating is a direct connection between an industry that is on the edge of change and a top-caliber talent pool for them to recruit from.”

World-class Hospitality Curriculum

Today’s announcement establishes the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership as well as the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund, which will support the programmatic and career development elements of the Center. The experiential components of this new program, including access to top hospitality executives and industry leaders for Howard students, will make this curriculum appealing and unique. The Marriott family foundation and Howard University will work together to form a hospitality industry advisory council to design a program that will draw on the university’s ideal location in the geographic heart of the hospitality industry—Greater Washington, D.C.—where Marriott and many other hospitality companies are headquartered. In addition to advising on the development of a world-class hospitality curriculum, the Center’s advisory council members will serve as guest lecturers and mentors and provide hands-on learning opportunities for students. The council will include representatives from Howard, the Marriott family foundation and Marriott International as well as corporate hospitality executives, industry practitioners, association leaders and academics who together will develop a hospitality program focused on traditional and experiential learning opportunities. The goal will be to expose students to the hospitality industry through a management lens.

To learn more about the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership and the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund, or to make a donation, please visit www.howard.edu/sorensonfund. To make a major gift, please contact Dawn Ridley, Assistant Vice President, Institutional Giving via phone or email at (202) 238-2350 or Dawn.Ridley@howard.edu.

About Arne Sorenson
Arne M. Sorenson was President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, Inc., from 2012 until his passing in February 2021. In his role, he presided over the world’s largest hospitality company and some of the most iconic brands in travel. Mr. Sorenson built his tenure on the bedrock of Marriott International’s core values: putting people first, pursuing excellence, acting with integrity, embracing change and serving our world.

Mr. Sorenson led the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in 2016, resulting in a dramatic expansion of Marriott’s ability to provide unparalleled guest experiences around the world. The company now has more than 7,600 properties across 133 countries and territories and 30 brands. The merger also created the travel industry’s largest customer-loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, which has more than 147 million members.

An outspoken corporate leader, Mr. Sorenson advocated for environmental sustainability, human rights, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Under his leadership, Marriott International was recognized extensively, including by Fortune in 2020 as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies and DiversityInc as one of the Top 50 Companies for Diversity. In 2019, Mr. Sorenson was named CEO of the Year by Chief Executive magazine and was placed on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Innovative Leaders and Barron’s list of the World’s Best CEOs.

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