Marriott Hotels Makes $20M Donation to Howard University to Launch Hospitality Program

Howard is one of the largest historically Black colleges and universities in the nation

USA, Washington DC, Howard University, facade of historic Founders Library with blue sky and white clouds above
Photo: Getty

Marriott is making a huge push for more diversity in the hospitality industry with their recent decision to fund a hospitality leadership program at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

The worldwide hotel chain announced the news on Wednesday, sharing that they would be providing a $20 million endowment to the historically Black university's School of Business to create the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership.

The center will be named in honor of Marriott's late president and CEO, Arne Sorenson, who died last week of pancreatic cancer. According to the company, Sorenson was passionate about creating spaces for diverse talent in the company, and his namesake program will work to expand "educational and professional opportunities for Howard students and aims to develop future executives in the hospitality industry."

In addition to the $20 million endowment, Marriott will also be donating $1 million towards the new Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund, which will support students in the program. They are inviting other organizations and individuals to contribute as well.


"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," said J.W. "Bill" Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board at Marriott International in a press release.

Arne Sorenson
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"This innovative program will foster leadership excellence and help drive greater inclusion at the most senior levels of the hospitality industry," he continued.

Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, the president of Howard, agreed, adding: "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."

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Marriott was founded in Washington, D.C., where Howard is located — another reason why the company decided the partnership would be an ideal fit.

Howard counts among its notable alumni Vice President Kamala Harris, the late Chadwick Boseman, Taraji P. Henson, Sean Combs, Thurgood Marshall, Toni Morrison and more. The university first opened its doors in 1867 and offers more programs than any other historically Black college and university in the nation.

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