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Arne Sorenson's legacy lives through a program created with a $20 million Marriott grant that aims to create much-needed diversity in leadership in the hospitality industry.

The Marriott family’s charitable foundation launched an endowment Wednesday to establish a hospitality leadership program at Howard University, one of the nation’s most prestigious historically Black colleges and universities.

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation will provide $20 million to launch the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership — named for Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s late CEO who died earlier this month after a nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. The leadership center will aim to develop future hospitality industry executives. The program will be part of Howard University’s business school.

“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 at Marriott International, in a statement. “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.”

The Marriott Foundation also announced a $1 million donation to create the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund to support programming and career development at the new leadership center.

Both Sorenson and Marriott International championed inclusion and diversity in the workforce over the years, with the company’s board of directors launching a committee aimed at diversity inclusion two decades ago. The company announced last year an expansion to its internal Emerging Leader Program, aimed at expanding diversity in leadership positions, and other diversity initiatives in response to ongoing racial tension in the U.S.

“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,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University, in a statement. “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.”

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Tags: Arne Sorenson, marriott

Photo credit: The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation will provide $20 million to launch the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership, named for the late CEO Arne Sorenson (pictured) at Howard University. Marriott International

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