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Harris Rosen named Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year 2011

Harris Rosen '61, president and chief operating officer of Rosen Hotels and Resorts Inc. in Orlando, Fla., has been named Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year 2011. He will be honored on campus during the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration, April 14-15.

After various jobs in the hotel industry, including the Disney Co., Rosen purchased a bankrupt 256-room Quality Inn in Orlando in 1974; today the property has 728 rooms. Along the way, he acquired the International Inn, recently renamed the Rosen Inn, and constructed the Quality Inn Plaza -- now the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando -- that at one point was the largest Quality Inn with 1,020 rooms.

In 1988, he completed a 640-room Comfort Inn at Lake Buena Vista, the largest Comfort Inn in the chain, the 1,334-room Rosen Centre Hotel in 1995 and the 1,500-room AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek convention property in 2006, with 500,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space and such amenities as a 7,200-yard golf course, four outdoor swimming pools and 14 food and beverage outlets.

Rosen is known for creating a self-insured initiative that provides health care for his 4,500 employees and their dependents including an on-site medical center with two full-time doctors and 28 staff members. His health care initiative has gained national recognition with some prominent government officials suggesting that if this template were implemented throughout the United States, in both the public and private sectors, it could save our nation close to a trillion dollars annually in health care costs.

In the 1990s, Rosen created the Tangelo Park Pilot Program, which provides free preschool education for all 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds in a disadvantaged neighborhood in central Florida as well as mentoring programs and other initiatives designed to assist the students through high school and college. The program provides all students in the neighborhood who are accepted to a Florida vocational school, junior college or a four-year public college a completely free education, including room and board. Thus far, about 190 students have received full college scholarships.

In addition, Rosen donated a 20-acre site and funds to help construct the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management, which now has more than 3,000 students. He also established a $5 million dollar endowment for the college that provides about 100 college scholarships.

Rosen is a member of the Cornell Hotel Society, the Waldorf Astoria Distinguished Alumni Association and a past president of Visit Orlando. He serves on the boards of numerous not-for-profit organizations throughout Florida.

In 2009 and 2010, the Orlando Business Journal recognized Rosen as a "Healthcare Hero" and one of the area's "Top 10 CEOs," a recognition he has received for many years. In 2007 he was honored by readers of Orlando Magazine for making the "Best Contribution to Orlando" and as one of the area's "Most Influential Executives." He was also named "Best Corporate Citizen" by the magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2010.

Rosen has also been honored with the Sustainable Florida's Legacy Award, the "Citizen of the Year" award by the Florida School Board Association and induction into the Visit Florida Tourism Hall of Fame.

The Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year award is given annually to a Cornell graduate who best exemplifies entrepreneurial achievement, community service and high ethical standards. Rosen will give a public address April 14 at 4:30 p.m. in Statler Auditorium.

For more information on the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration, visit

Kathy Hovis is a writer/editor for Entrepreneurship@Cornell.

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Joe Schwartz