Cornell Hospitality Icon & Innovator Awards

8th Annual Icon and Innovator Awards

The annual Cornell Hospitality Icon and Innovator Awards is the School of Hotel Administration's premier fundraising event, and a celebration to honor visionary leaders in hospitality, business, and philanthropy. Contributions to the event support the school's annual fund, which provides key funding to scholarships and programs.

Thank you to all in attendance on June 7, 2016.


The 2016 Cornell Hospitality Icon and Innovator Honorees

Isadore Sharp

Isadore Sharp

Founder and chairman, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
2016 Cornell Icon of the Industry

In 1961, Isadore Sharp opened the first Four Seasons—a motor hotel in Toronto, Canada—and over the last five decades, Four Seasons has grown into the world's leading luxury hospitality company. Today, the company—which maintains its single brand-focus on luxury hospitality—operates 96 hotels, resorts, and branded residences around the globe.

From pioneering approaches to service, to setting the standard for in-room amenities and the bold rethinking of hotel features, Four Seasons has come to define modern luxury travel with a well-established reputation for operating some of the very best luxury hotels in the world. With a guiding philosophy based on the Golden Rule—the simple idea of treating others as you would have them treat you—Sharp elevated the role of Four Seasons employees to deliver a highly personalized brand of service, and in the process created one of the world's greatest service cultures. Today, more than 43,000 Four Seasons employees are united around a commitment to service excellence that embodies the guiding values and philosophies set out by Sharp. 

Sharp's commitment to service is reflected in the company's culture of giving and social responsibility which is focused on advancing cancer research, building communities, and supporting sustainability. Sharp's influence also extends to his numerous philanthropic associations. He is the founder of the annual Terry Fox Run—the largest single-day fundraising event for cancer research worldwide—which has raised more than $650 million to date. He is also a generous supporter of the arts in Canada, and is the recipient of many global awards and honors recognizing his lifelong commitment to philanthropy.

Ted Teng '79

President and CEO, The Leading Hotels of the World
2016 Cornell Hospitality Innovator

Throughout his nearly 40-year career in the hospitality industry, Ted Teng '79 has been responsible for the growth of some of the most prominent brands in the world. Since joining The Leading Hotels of the World in 2008, Teng has been dedicated to reigniting the 88-year-old brand.

Through a collaborative approach with the hotel membership, Teng is focused on reimagining and redefining a differentiated business model for Leading Hotels to better serve its member hotels. Teng holds firm to his motto "Preserve, Enhance, and Invent"—honoring the traditions of the company while innovating to achieve greater strength and success in the future.

Teng is 1979 graduate of SHA, and has served on the Dean's Advisory Board and been a long-time member of the Cornell Hotel Society.

Ted Teng '79

Michael D. Johnson

Michael D. Johnson

The Bradley H. Stone Dean and E. M. Statler Professor, School of Hotel Administration

Michael D. Johnson became the sixth dean of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration in 2006 after a distinguished 24-year career at the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Dean Johnson has focused his efforts on investing in faculty, enhancing students' learning experiences, increasing diversity, building an effective fundraising organization, and growing the school's global platform.

Through a combination of new programs within SHA and cross-college collaboration, Dean Johnson has led the expansion and enrichment of academic programs, learning opportunities, and related-career opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. This includes the establishment and development of the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship; the Center for Real Estate and Finance; the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations; the Baker Program in Real Estate with the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning; and the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures with the College of Human Ecology.

In China, SHA has launched a new dual-degree program (MBA and MMH) with the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) of Shanghai and a China Faculty Development Program to train the next generation of hospitality scholars, and is working with developers in China to launch the SHA Shanghai Center as a teaching and retreat center for Cornell students, faculty, and alumni.

The high caliber of SHA's programs, facilities, and leadership was validated in 2014 when it became the only stand-alone hospitality program to be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Dean Johnson serves Cornell as chair of the Board of Governors of Entrepreneurship at Cornell; as a member of the Board of Directors of eCornell, Cornell University's online learning company; and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Cornell Alumni Council.

Corporate Supporters

WATG | Wimberley Interiors

Premier Media Support Exclusive Experiential Marketing
USA Today

George P. Johnson Experiential Marketing


Castello Banfi

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

InterContinental Hotels Group

Paul Hastings

Sweet Street Desserts


Access Point Financial

Cornell Hotel Society


Flag Luxury

Hilton Worldwide

Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Jones Lang LaSalle

Joe Jurgielewicz & Son

The Leading Hotels of the World


Questex Hospitality Group

Stonebridge Companies

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces  
583 Park Avenue Duetto Research

Eastdil Secured

Hersha Hospitality Trust

Loews Hotels and Resorts

Nobu New York City

Preferred Hotels and Resorts Thayer Lodging Transdev Wyndham Hotel Group
Event Software Provider

Social Tables

To learn about future opportunities to support this prestigious celebration of achievement, please contact Jennifer Macera '13, associate director of corporate and foundation relations, at or 607.255.3101.

The Cornell Icon of the Industry 

The Cornell Icon of the Industry Award honors the lifetime achievements of hospitality and travel industry visionaries, for their professional and philanthropic contributions that have transformed the global industry and society.

Past Award Recipients

Barry S. Sternlicht The Mariani Family Tom Pritzker
Barry S. Sternlicht (2015)
Chairman and CEO
Starwood Capital Group
The Mariani Family & 
Banfi Vintners (2014)

James Mariani MBA '91
Virginia Mariani-Kitt '82
Harry Mariani
Cristina Mariani-May
John Mariani '54 (not pictured)
Tom Pritzker (2013)
Executive Chairman,
Hyatt Hotels Corporation
The Tisch Family The Hilton Family Charles F. Feeney '56
The Tisch Family (2012)
James S. Tisch '75 
Andrew H. Tisch '71 
Jonathan M. Tisch
The Hilton Family &
The Conrad N. Hilton
Foundation (2011)
Charles F. Feeney '56 (2010)
Co-Founder, Duty Free Shoppers;
Founding Chairman, The Atlantic Philanthropies
  The Hilton Family  
  J.W. Marriott, Jr. (2009)
Chairman & CEO
Marriot International, Inc.

The Cornell Hospitality Innovator 

The Cornell Hospitality Innovator Award honors extraordinary leaders who have created, built, or sustained contemporary, market-leading innovation in hospitality and travel enterprises. View past Cornell Hospitality Innovator Award recipients.