School of Hospitality Management and alumni to honor Marriott CEO in 2018

November 08, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State School of Hospitality Management in the College of Health and Human Development and the Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society (PSHRS) have named Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, as the 2018 Hospitality Executive of the Year.

With Marriott’s purchase of Starwood last year, it now is the world’s largest hotel company with more than 6,400 hotels, more than 1.2 million rooms and 30 brands in 126 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 extraordinary 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.

“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,” said Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner Director of the School of Hospitality Management. “As Penn Staters, we are inspired by his many examples of leadership, 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.” 

Since 1960, this prestigious award, presented by PSHRS, has honored a number of industry leaders. Its recipients represent a “Who’s Who” of extraordinary individuals who have left indelible marks on the profession. 

“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,” said Ryan Spear, current president of PSHRS.  

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 chief operating officer. He has held a number of positions, including executive vice president, chief financial officer, 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 a 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 global and dynamic hospitality industry. With innovative courses, a tradition of engaged scholarship, and discipline-shaping research by world-class faculty, the school inspires all students to pursue excellence in scholarship, exhibit a strong work ethic, and become successful and ethical innovators.

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.”

To learn more about the dinner and reserve attendance, visit

About Marriott International

Marriott International Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,400 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 126 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. For more information, visit, and for the latest company news, visit In addition, connect with Marriott on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.


The Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society was founded to strengthen all hospitality professions and enhance the reputation of the Hospitality Management program (HM). PSHRS is an Affiliate Program Group of the Penn State Alumni Association and the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society.

PSHRS provides a means for achieving closer fellowship among alumni, faculty and students. PSHRS serves those who are currently attending Penn State in HM or who are graduates of the program, as well as those who work within the HM industries and have attended Penn State or are "friends" of the program.

About the School of Hospitality Management

Established in 1937, Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected. Its top-ranked undergraduate and doctoral programs prepare global leaders with a rigorous, diverse curriculum focused, since its inception, on engaged scholarship, featuring partnerships with Penn State's Hospitality Services, Housing and Food Services, and top global hospitality brands. It’s also home to the oldest Penn State alumni program group, the Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society. For more information about the school, contact Brian Black, director of industry and alumni relations, at or 814-865-1853.

  • Arne Sorenson

    Arne M. Sorenson is president and CEO of Marriott International Inc. He will be honored as 2018 Hospitality Executive of the Year at an awards reception on April 12 in State College. #SHMproud

    IMAGE: Marriott International

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Last Updated January 31, 2018