Dean Presents Highest Honor to Two Alumni

Alvin V. Shoemaker, W’60, HON’95, and Sukanto Tanoto, WF’01, were rewarded for years of service to the School with the Dean’s Medal. 

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Sukanto Tanoto, WF’01

Two of our favorite sons,” as Jon M. Huntsman Sr., W’59, H’96, put it, returned to campus on a warm autumn day to receive the Dean’s Medal, the highest honor that the Wharton School can bestow upon its community members. This year’s honorees were Alvin V. Shoemaker, W’60, HON’95, and Sukanto Tanoto, WF’01.

Dean Thomas S. Robertson introduced Tanoto as a man with an entrepreneurial spirit, as an advocate for corporate responsibility and as a widely known “visionary” with an eye for competitive advantage. Tanoto is the founder and chairman of Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), a global resources-based group of companies with corporate offices in Singapore, China and Indonesia. He is also a graduate with a lifelong commitment to Wharton and Penn.

He is proud to be associated with such institutions, Tanoto declared upon receiving his medal—institutions that value knowledge as the key to change the world. He looks forward to Wharton continuing to wield its “intellectual leadership and cutting-edge innovation” in the future, with a special hope that its influence continues to grow in Asia.

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Alvin V. Shoemaker, W’60, HON’95

The current strength of Wharton’s brand in Asia, according to Huntsman, is a testament to Tanoto’s efforts.

For Shoemaker, Wharton has been held as an ideal since he was young. In his acceptance speech, here counted how his father had college in mind for him since birth—but not just any college. Whereas in The Graduate the one word is “plastics,” as Shoemaker told it, his father believed that “taxes” and “accounting” were the terms of the future. From Wharton to law school to working in Washington D.C., from investment banking to his current role at Alvin V. Shoemaker Investments—a private-equity firm specializing in the needs of the oil and gas technology and service businesses—his career was made possible because of that first step, he said.

“We didn’t build our careers ourselves,” he said. “It was Wharton that opened the door.”

In his remarks during the Dean’s Medal ceremony, Huntsman echoed those sentiments, calling Wharton a “remarkable launching pad” for everyday kids toward limitless careers as adults.

Huntsman earned his Dean’s Medal in 1985—alongside Benjamin Franklin, he kidded—and he still displays it prominently so that anyone entering his office at Huntsman Corp. sees it. The Dean’s Medal, Huntsman said, is a “symbol of gratitude to an institution for what they gave us.”

Since 1983, 44 Dean’s Medals have been awarded.

By Matthew Brodsky

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