(Photo: L-R: Marcela DeFaria, Director of Advancement for Rosen College; Lori Gustafson, Chief Brand and Digital Officer Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation; Stephen P. Weisz, retiring chief executive officer, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation; Rico Pasamba, Sr. Manager, Corporate Affairs & Community Relations.)
Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation (MVW) has made a $250,000 donation to establish an endowed scholarship for students who attend the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
The scholarship will be known as the Stephen P. Weisz Endowed Scholarship in Hospitality Management Fund, in honor of the retiring chief executive officer of Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation. Inspired by Marriott Vacations Worldwide’s generosity and Weisz’s leadership, UCF contributed funds to this scholarship endowment, resulting in a combined investment of $300,000. The fund will be managed by the UCF Foundation and will provide a minimum of two annual scholarships of $5,000 for students at Rosen College.
Weisz, for whom the scholarship is named, had a 50-year career in the hospitality industry, which includes 39 years with Marriott International. Weisz held several key executive management positions at Marriott International, such as senior vice president of Sales and Marketing for Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites; regional vice president for the Mid-Atlantic region; vice president of Revenue Management; senior vice president of Rooms Operations and Related Services and general manager, Bethesda Marriott in Maryland. He was a frequent guest lecturer at Rosen College when the college was first established in 2004, and a member of the dean’s advisory board.
Funding for the partial match came from the UCF Challenge: Philanthropy for Lasting Change program, which was created to leverage funds from the transformational $40 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in 2021 to inspire other philanthropists to create significant endowments for lasting impact. The program provided partial match funding for endowments of $250,000 or more in the areas of student success, scholars’ programs, and faculty excellence.
“The backing of our industry partners demonstrates the confidence they have in the college and its education process to produce skilled members of the hospitality and tourism workforce.” — Youcheng Wang, dean of UCF’s Rosen College
“We are honored by this generous gift from Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation in support of our students and their aspirational goals to be the future leaders of the hospitality industry,” says Youcheng Wang, dean of Rosen College. “The backing of our industry partners demonstrates the confidence they have in the college and its education process to produce skilled members of the hospitality and tourism workforce. This scholarship is a true investment in student success, and our community, as Orlando is the heart of hospitality and is one of the most visited destinations in the United States.”
Rosen College distributes more than $200,000 in scholarships to its students each year, the majority of which are the result of gifts from industry partners.
MVW has been a long-time supporter of Rosen College. The hospitality and tourism industries are consistently ranked by financial analysts as an important driver of economic growth in Central Florida. The MVW scholarships is a clear indication of the company’s confidence in the college’s exceptional curriculum, real-world experience offerings through internships and collaborative hands-on work experience, and opportunities for students to engage with mentors in the field. This fall the corporation was a Pegasus-level sponsor of the college’s bi-annual career fair, with a $10,000 commitment to support the student-planned and executed event. The career fair draws in almost 100 recruiters from across the United States and around the globe, to recruit about 800 Rosen College students who attend.
Giovanna Gorra ’08 ’20MS, a Rosen College alumna and senior regional Marketing recruiting manager for the U.S. at MVW, is part of the college’s alumni association. She has recruited at the career fair for the past four years and says she is excited about the scholarship, which is an extension of the support given by MVW to her alma mater.
“This scholarship is an incredible opportunity for UCF Rosen students to learn more about the vacation ownership industry, network with leaders at Marriott Vacations Worldwide, and experience what this company has to offer, says Gorra. “UCF Rosen students are the future of hospitality, and it is an honor to work for a company that is dedicated to supporting the industry for generations to come.”
To qualify for the Stephen P. Weisz Endowed Scholarship in Hospitality Management, students who apply must meet the following qualifications:
- Applicant(s) must be enrolled in Rosen College.
- Applicant(s) must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
- Preference will be given to students interested in or self-identifying as having experience in the timeshare industry.
- Preference will be given to students who have demonstrated a commitment to volunteer service in their communities.
UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management opened the doors of its standalone campus in 2004 to just 75 students. Today, it is ranked No. 1 in the nation by ShanghaiRankings for its hospitality research and hospitality education programs, enrolling more than 3,000 students and offering five undergraduate and four graduate degrees, in addition to a Ph.D. in hospitality management and numerous undergraduate and graduate certificate programs.