OGDEN, Utah – The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation has approved a grant of $2 million to create the J. Willard Marriott, Sr. Scholarship Endowment at Weber State University.
The new endowment, named in honor of the Marriott Corporation founder and Weber alumnus, will provide scholarships for students who are the first generation from a family to attend college, demonstrate financial need and/or have demonstrated perseverance to overcome difficult circumstances in order to attend college.
The scholarship criteria reflect many of the circumstances J. Willard Marriott, Sr. faced as a student at then Weber College in the early 20th century.
“We appreciate the generosity of the Marriott family and their support of WSU’s mission to educate first-generation college students and those with financial need,” said WSU President Ann Millner. “This commitment to student scholarships will allow others to follow in the footsteps of J. Willard Marriott, Sr., who received the support and encouragement to pursue his education while attending Weber years ago.”
Marriott credited Aaron Tracy, a local teacher who would later become president of Weber College, as instrumental in his early education. Tracy helped Marriott complete the back work needed for his high school studies, then helped him apply to Weber College and found odd jobs around the campus to help him pay for tuition. Despite a crushing schedule of classes and jobs, Marriott found time to serve as student body president and teach theology. He graduated from Weber College and went on to attend the University of Utah before entering the hospitality industry.
In 1927, J. Willard Marriott and his new bride, Alice S. Marriott, traveled from Utah to Washington, D.C. where they opened up a nine-stool A&W root beer stand, later called “The Hot Shoppe.” Little did they know that business would develop into the worldwide hotel chain it is today. His son, J.W. Marriott Jr., Chairman and CEO of Marriott International, who spoke at Weber State University’s spring 2006 commencement, told the graduates, “I think a lot about what would have happened if Aaron Tracy and Weber College had not given my dad a chance.”
The endowment donation will be paid in five equal installments of $400,000, beginning in 2007 and ending in March 2011.
The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation was established in 1965 with the purpose of giving back to the community. Under the current direction of J.W. Marriott, Jr. and Richard E. Marriott, the Marriott Foundation is dedicated to helping youth secure a promising future, especially through education on the secondary and higher education levels, mentoring and youth leadership programs. Equally important are organizations that help provide relief from hunger and disasters; support people with disabilities; and create gainful employment opportunities for vulnerable youth and adults.
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