Marriott International's J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation has committed $20 million to launch the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership at Howard University, a historically Black school in Washington.

The endowment was created to honor the memory of former Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, who died on Feb. 15 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Arne Sorenson
Arne Sorenson

The center, which aims to expand opportunities for Howard students and develop future executives in the hospitality industry, will be housed within Howard University's School of Business.

"Arne's passion for creating a culture of opportunity brought real change in the executive ranks of our company," said J.W. Marriott Jr., Marriott International's executive chairman and chairman of the board, in a statement. "But work remains to be done. Our industry needs a pipeline of diverse leadership talent and that's exactly what this center will achieve."

Concurrently, Marriott has established the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund, which will support the new center's programming and career development platforms. Marriott has pledged an initial donation of $1 million but is inviting other companies, organizations and individuals to further grow the fund.

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