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Sorenson to Speak at Convocation
Cade Martin Photography
Arne Sorenson, the President & CEO of Marriott International, will receive an honorary degree at Washington College’s Convocation on Sept. 7.
Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, Inc., will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws when he speaks at Washington College’s Convocation on September 7, 2017. Known for his progressive stance on social and environmental issues as economically as well as ethically necessary, Sorenson will kick off the academic year with a talk on leadership lessons and career experiences.
Convocation will be held in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, starting at 4 p.m. The public is invited. James Allen Hall, director of the Rose O’ Neill Literary House and associate professor of English, will accept the 2017 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, while Minty Abraham Wade ’04 and Brenna Nan Schneider ’06 will receive the 2017 Alumni Horizon Ribbon Award.
Sorenson received his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and served as a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C. before joining Marriott in 1996. In 2012 he became the third CEO in Marriott’s history, the first who was not in the Marriott family. The culture at Marriott, Sorenson says, appealed to him from the beginning. In a May 2017 interview with Fortune at the Great Place to Work conference in Chicago, he says that the company since its inception has focused on creating opportunities for all of its employees, no matter who they are or what their background may be.
That inclusive ethos jibed well with Sorenson’s background as the son of Christian missionaries. Born in Japan where his parents were working, he moved with his family when he was seven years old to St. Paul, Minnesota. He was a religion major at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and then attended the University of Minnesota Law School. He and his wife, Ruth, have four grown children.
Mindful of social, cultural, and environmental issues—and Marriott’s influential role as a worldwide employer—Sorenson in 2007 co-founded the corporation’s Global Sustainability Council, and the following year he launched its rainforest preservation partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation in Brazil. He chairs the company’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council, which monitors and evaluates strategy to promote a diverse workforce.
In August, Marriott International for the second year in a row was named one of the Best Workplaces for Millennials, landing 14th in the top 20 of that ranking by the firm Great Place to Work and Fortune magazine. According to the company’s website, “Marriott International also previously ranked as one of the 50 Best Workplaces for Diversity, 10 Best Workplaces for Latinos and 10 Best Workplaces for African Americans, and has appeared on the overall Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list every year since it began in 1998.”
Marriott International includes more than 6,200 properties across 30 leading hotel brands in 125 countries and territories. In fiscal year 2016, Marriott reported revenues of more than $17 billion.