The Forum

In Memoriam: Arne Sorenson

February 19, 2021 by Nathaniel Urban

Arne Sorenson, the chief executive officer of Marriott International, passed away on February 15, 2021. He was 62. Although his passing was untimely, his was a life full of meaning and service.

Mr. Sorenson was born in Tokyo, Japan, on October 13, 1958, to his father, a Lutheran pastor, and mother, a public school teacher. He studied religion and business at Luther College, a private liberal arts school in Decorah, Iowa, and then attended the University of Minnesota Law School.

He specialized in mergers and acquisitions at the Washington, DC-based law firm Latham and Watkins before joining Marriott International as an associate general counsel. In 2012, he became its president and chief executive officer. In this role, he oversaw the largest acquisition in company history and secured Marriott’s place as the number one global hotel chain.

Mr. Sorenson spoke briefly with ACTA staff members in 2019 about the value of liberal arts education. He was one of the first CEOs of a major Fortune 500 company to respond to ACTA’s initiative to communicate the economic value of the liberal arts. We were honored to speak with such a successful leader and hear his appreciation for essential liberal arts subjects –  theology, philosophy, history, literature, and economics. He was a man of faith, committed to improving communities and global social causes.

Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, children, and the thousands of others he influenced over the course of his life.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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