University Park, PA—In recognition of a $4 million gift by The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, University leaders have approved renaming the Oak Building in the Foundation’s honor. The Marriott Foundation’s commitment, part of a broader, ongoing fundraising effort to renovate the building and support future programing, is creating a dedicated space to encourage innovation and inclusion within Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management.
The Penn State Board of Trustees approved naming The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Building at its meeting on Friday, July 19. Renovations to The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Building will be led by Pittsburgh-based GBBN Architects, known for positively impacting people through innovative design work in higher education, healthcare and nonprofit community projects.
“The exceptional academic and experiential learning opportunities that this state-of-the-art building will provide are at the heart of the Marriott Foundation’s mission,” said Mieka F. Wick, executive director of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “We are delighted to partner with Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management in educating the next generation of hospitality leaders, pioneers and professionals.”
Through its gift in support of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Building, the Marriott Foundation has provided funding for 11,500 square feet of renovations to transform the building into a support center for undergraduate and graduate students in hospitality. The planned renovations will enhance the School of Hospitality Management’s commitment to experiential learning through dynamic and flexible classrooms, meeting and event workspaces that support collaboration, communication and experimentation to develop and explore the newest trends in the hospitality industry. The renovations will also create opportunities for mentoring, skill assessment and entrepreneurial exploration through the building’s Inclusive Excellence Lab and Accelerator Program. In addition, to build on student engagement with industry and alumni, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Building will host lectures and mentoring from scholars and hospitality professionals, bridging the gap between industry and academia.
“I am extremely grateful to the Marriott Foundation and its Trustees for their inspiring generosity and dedication to preparing more students for vibrant careers in the hospitality industry,” said Dr. Donna Quadri-Felitti, the Marvin Ashner Director of the School of Hospitality Management. “This gift is an affirmation of our vision to expand our school’s experiential education expertise across more sectors within the hospitality industry for more future leaders of the profession. It is fitting that the names of J.W. and Alice Marriott will grace this treasured Penn State building whose renovation is built around the themes of inclusion, innovation and excellence—all hallmarks of achievement by these pioneers and by our community of students, faculty and scholars in the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State.”
Constructed on a major campus corner at North Atherton Street and West Park Avenue in 1976, the Oak Building was designed by one of America’s major architectural figures of the twentieth century, Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. The Oak Building is included as a contributing property to the Farmers’ High School Historic District and sits within Hort Woods, another campus landmark, with some of the oldest trees in the grove dating back to before 1855 when the University was founded.
Through the Foundation’s grantmaking, the Marriott family carries on the values and legacy of J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott. Since 1965, the Foundation has supported extraordinary nonprofits that provide civic and human services, foster educational achievement, expand opportunities for youth and adults, and lead innovation in health and medicine. Central to the Foundation’s mission is a commitment to developing the next generation of hospitality leaders and preparing young people for rewarding careers in the hospitality industry.
This gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.