On Sunday, May 15, at 1:30 p.m., Valparaiso University will celebrate undergraduate commencement, one of three commencement ceremonies held throughout the weekend, conferring degrees upon nearly 700 undergraduate students.
The undergraduate commencement speaker is Arne M. Sorenson, president and chief executive officer of Marriott International Inc., a global leading lodging company with more than 4,000 lodging properties in more than 80 countries and territories with a revenue that exceeded $14 billion in the 2015 fiscal year. He is just the third CEO of the company and the first person outside the Marriott family to head the company.
“We are honored to welcome Mr. Sorenson to Valparaiso to celebrate Commencement with us this May,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of the University. “During a challenging economic time, Mr. Sorenson has been innovative in his long-term strategy for Marriott. His leadership skills combined with his strength of character will resonate with our graduates and guide them as they pursue their passions.”
Prior to joining Marriott, Sorenson was a partner at Latham & Watkins, where he engaged in corporate litigation, specializing in mergers and acquisitions. In this position, he met Bill Marriott while defending the hotel chain in a lawsuit. And, three years later, he found himself working for the Fortune 500 company as senior vice president of business development.
For the past decade, Sorenson has served in various capacities within Marriott. Prior to his current position as CEO, he served as executive vice president, chief financial officer, and president of continental European lodging, with responsibility for lodging operations and development in the company’s overall financial functions.
Active on numerous boards, Sorenson was elected to Marriott International’s board of directors, elected chair of the Brand USA board, serves on the Luther College board of regents, and was elected to the board of trustees for the Brookings Institution. He co-founded Marriott’s Global Sustainability Council and launched Marriott’s rainforest preservation partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation in Brazil.
Sorenson is also chairman of Marriott’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council and on the Marriott board of directors’ Committee for Excellence, a board subcommittee focused on diversity. Together, the Council and Committee monitor and evaluate Marriott’s strategy to promote a diverse workforce, as well as ownership, customer, and vendor communities around the world. He also writes a blog as an Influencer on LinkedIn, with nearly 215,000 followers.
Remarks will also be given by a representative of the senior class, Benjamin L. Hoemann ’16. A Christ College scholar, Hoemann, of Washington, Mo., will graduate summa cum laude with a major in biochemistry. He spent spring break last year on a medical service-learning trip in Central America and plans to attend medical school at Columbia University.
The undergraduate commencement ceremony will take place in the Athletics-Recreation Center. Visit valpo.edu/commencement for additional information.