Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall 2013

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simply blown away,” says J. W. Marriott Jr., executive chair of Marriott International. A half a century after names like Rocke-feller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Morgan championed America’s industrial revolution, the name Marriott redefined the lodging industry in the United States and around the world. This storied name also shaped the future of BYU’s business programs, helping them blossom into an internationally respected school of management. A New Era On 28 October 1988 President Holland announced the naming of the School of Management after J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott. With the new moniker came a $15 million gift from the Marriott Foundation. “It is fitting that this school of management, whose students are not only taught the important business principles but also the significance of integrity in their professions, be named after two people whose lives have exemplified that most noble characteristic,” said President Ezra Taft Benson. Marriott School dean Paul Thompson added, “The name and reputation of the Marriott family will be a constant reminder to the students that honesty, hard work, and treating both customers and employees fairly are qualities that are completely compatible with success.” Adding the Marriott name altered the school’s trajectory: the Marriott gift jump-started the endowment, more students were attracted to business, academics improved, and doors opened around the globe for graduates. A Healthy Endowment The Marriott family’s generosity provided the seed money for an endowment that has now grown to $150 million, helping fund faculty research, pay staff salaries, and support student scholarships. More Students Although business classes have been taught at BYU for more than one hundred years, well over half of all business graduates have gone through the school in the last twenty-five years. Today roughly one-quarter of all BYU students take business classes while on campus—making the Marriott School of Management one of the largest undergraduate business programs in the country. Improved Academics The school’s enhanced reputation helped attract some of the best and brightest faculty in the country. They, along with exceptionally gifted students, have consistently landed the school among top rankings. The accounting programs have been pegged in the country’s top three for nearly two decades. The Wall Street Journal’s latest ranking places the Marriott School No. 2 in ethics. The MBA program is now among the top twenty-five, and the school’s undergraduate program is ranked No. 12 nationally. New Opportunities The prestige associated with Marriott has also opened doors of opportunity. Placement for most of the school’s graduate programs is around 95 percent. Marriott School grads are sought after by the best firms in the country, including Goldman Sachs, GE, Citi, Amazon, Adobe, Cisco, P&G, Honeywell, and Apple. “The ultimate success of the business my parents founded was due to their character, attitude, and drive,” says Richard E. Marriott, chair of Host Hotels & Resorts and a member of the school’s National Advisory Council. “These qualities are why BYU graduates are sought after by corporations throughout the world and one of the reasons my family is so honored to have our name associated with this great school.” Success is Never Final One of J. Willard’s favorite sayings was “Success is never final.” It’s a lesson he and Alice learned early. When the weather turned cold in Washington, D.C., their root beer business began to dry up. So they changed their model. Alice, who spoke Spanish, befriended the chef of the Mexican embassy next door. He shared his secret recipes for chili and tamales. Bill put up a new sign that read “Hot Shoppe,” and soon customers were lining up again, this time for hot Mexican food. That same idea—success is never final—drives the school’s continued pursuit of excellence. Twenty-five years on, the school is still working toward it, still adapting, still trying to become Marriott. “Every now and again in the history of the world there arises above the masses a man or woman, and in this case both, who stand above their generation,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley. “They affect the lives of everyone they touch. Such was the case with Bill and Allie [Marriott].”2 Notes 1 “J. Willard Marriott: International Executive of the Year,” Exchange, winter 1989, 15. 2 Ibid., 16. About the Author Joseph Ogden is an associate professor of communications at BYU. He was previously assistant dean of the Marriott School and managing editor of Marriott Alumni Magazine. Marriott family members, Church leaders, and BYU administrators gathered for the Marriott School’s naming ceremony on 28 October 1988.

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