Penn State School of Hospitality Management to honor Marriott's Sorenson

The Nittany Lion Inn will be the site of a reception honoring Arne Sorenson, Marriott International's president and CEO. Photo credit: Penn State University

The Penn State School of Hospitality Management in the College of Health and Human Development and The Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society have named Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, as the 2018 Hospitality Executive of the Year.

Arne Sorenson. Photo credit: Marriott International

With Marriott’s purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide last year, Marriott reigns as the world’ largest hotel company with more than 6,000 hotels, 1 million rooms and 30 brands in 122 countries. The university will honor Sorenson at a reception at the historic Nittany Lion Inn on April 12, 2018. The award and events precede the university’s 2018 Blue-White Weekend festivities and football game.

The award ceremony will recognize Sorenson’s leadership and achievement in the hospitality industry and provide a special opportunity for hospitality management students to learn directly from the president and CEO of the world’s largest hotel company.

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“Arne Sorenson’s stewardship of the successful integration of Starwood into the Marriott International family has been nothing less than transformative to the entire global travel industry,” Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner director of the School of Hospitality Management, said in a statement. “As Penn Staters, we are inspired by his many leadership examples, such as advancing the conversation in our nation for inclusivity, considering thoughtfully the lives of Marriott associates and business partners around the world, and leveraging his considerable talents to benefit Marriott stakeholders’ interests.”

“For over six decades, our society has recognized the exceptional men and women who elevate our industry and inspire young and seasoned hospitality professionals alike. We continue that tradition by expressing our admiration and gratitude for the exemplary leadership of Arne Sorenson, who like Mr. Marriott and others honored before him, is an icon of the industry. Under his leadership, Marriott International continues to make a positive impact in communities,” Ryan Spear, current president of the PSHRS, said in a statement.

Sorenson follows the legacy of Bill Marriott Jr., who was named Penn State’s Hospitality Executive of the Year in both 1967 and 1987. Bill Marriott is the only two-time honoree in the award’s history.

Sorenson joined Marriott in 1996. He became the third CEO in the company’s history in 2012—and the first without the Marriott surname.

Previously, he served as Marriott’s president and COO. He has held a number of positions, including EVP, CFO and president of continental European lodging. He was elected to Marriott’s board of directors in 2011.

Before Sorenson joined Marriott, he was a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions litigation.

Sorenson is the chair of the U.S. Travel Association CEO Roundtable; member of the Luther College Board of Regents; member of the Stewardship Board of the World Economic Forum System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Mobility; and member of the board of trustees for The Brookings Institution. Sorenson’s Influencer blog, which appears on LinkedIn, has roughly 500,000 followers.

He is a graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and the University of Minnesota Law School. He and his wife, Ruth, have four adult children.

For more than 80 years, the Penn State School of Hospitality Management has been a leader in higher education and research in service to the hospitality industry. The school has had a long relationship with Marriott International, with the company having recruited at the school for five decades. Over the past 17 years, Penn State has been the No. 1 feeder for Marriott’s undergraduate management development programs. Today, the program is known as the Voyage Global Leadership Development Program.

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