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Press Release

Marriott Foundation Gives $1 Million to Support Metro State Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center

Contact: Metro State: Tim Carroll, Office 303-556-5136, Cell 303-870-7705
Marriott Foundation: Amanda Farnum, Office 301-380-2246

Posted: January 23, 2012

(Denver, Colo.) — Metropolitan State College of Denver’s Hospitality, Tourism and Events Department has announced that The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation has committed $1 million to support the College’s new Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center (HLC). In recognition of this gift, the new conference space will be named The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Conference Center.

Focusing its giving in the areas of education, youth and human services, The Marriott Foundation is the largest donor to the HLC to date. The gift will offset costs associated with the development of the HLC facility, including outfitting classroom and interactive laboratories to enhance students’ experiential learning opportunities.

“Through our foundation, the Marriott family has worked to make a difference in the world by supporting causes and organizations that share our ideals,” says Richard Marriott, chairman of The J. Willard and Alice Marriott Foundation. “Metro State’s commitment to advance the hospitality industry, by providing relevant, applied learning opportunities for students, complements the goal of the Foundation to support higher education.” 

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Conference Center will feature 5,000 square feet of space with floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking downtown Denver to the southeast. This public space will accommodate events of up to 300 people with movable partitions for break-out meetings, a dedicated kitchen as well as offices and facilities. 

“Metro State’s Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center is the only one of its kind in an urban center and one of only a dozen facilities like it in the United States,” says Metro State President Stephen Jordan. “The Marriott Foundation’s support will help us provide unique career training and educational opportunities for students. Locally, the hospitality industry is one of the job-growth bright spots, so the gift’s timing couldn’t be better from a workforce development perspective.”

“Our students have been working in Marriott properties for decades, and now they have additional opportunities to implement academic theory from the classroom in their own real-world hotel and learning laboratory,” says Chad Gruhl, chair of the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center and associate professor and associate chair of the Hospitality, Tourism and Events Department. “I’m so honored that the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation recognized the vision of this project.”


One-of-a-Kind in the West: Metro State’s Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center

Conveniently located in downtown Denver on the Auraria Campus, the campus structure is the first of its kind in the Rocky Mountain West, which connects a select-service hotel to learning facilities. The complex features a 150-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott, a 28,000-square-foot Hospitality Learning Center and a 5,000-square-foot Conference Center that will be managed by Sage Hospitality. The combination of classroom instruction and interactive laboratories will provide an experiential curriculum for Metro State’s diverse undergraduate student population as well as current professionals seeking continuing education.

In addition to the support from the Foundation, Marriott International has committed to the project through staff time and resources that will offset some start up costs for the hotel. Sage Hospitality CEO Walter Isenberg and HLC campaign committee chairman, made an initial pledge of $250,000 toward the project at the ceremonial ground breaking last winter.

A special purpose corporation (SPC) was formed for the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center that provides for its financing, construction, operation and management. In November 2010, bonds were issued for the project and construction commenced in January 2011 with a projected completion in fall of 2012. No tax dollars are being used toward the project. Operating proceeds from the hotel will flow to the Metro State Foundation for scholarships and academic program support.

For more information on the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center and a full list of project supporters, please visit .


About the Marriott Foundation
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. 


About Metropolitan State College of Denver
With nearly 24,000 students, Metro State is Colorado’s leader in educating undergraduate Coloradans and enrolls the highest number of students of color among the state’s four-year colleges. The College now offers master’s degrees in accounting, teaching and social work. It boasts 70,500 alumni, the vast majority of whom remain in Colorado after graduation to contribute to the state’s workforce.