Honoring Wharton’s Greatest Assets

Wharton graduates—leaders in their respective fields—earn distinction in one of the longest-running alumni awards programs. The Wharton Club of New York’s Joseph Wharton Awards are not the only alumni awards program hosted by an alumni club, but they certainly are one of the, if not the, most storied. And there’s nothing like New York to bring out the big names, as it did on Oct. 8, 2015, during the Wharton Club of New York’s awards gala. There were media darlings of the startup world, Fortune 500 CEOs, world-class investors and, yes, even the dean of the world’s best business school.

In providing introductory comments for the Joseph Wharton Awards celebration in New York, Dean Geoffrey Garrett could be heard making the case for the power of Wharton alumni, no matter what field they’re in.

“You are by far the School’s greatest asset,” he told the Wharton grads in attendance.

(left to right) Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett and Wharton alumni Slava Rubin, WCNY President Kenny Beck, Ken Moelis and Howard S. Marks

(left to right) Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett, Slava Rubin, WCNY President Kenny Beck, Ken Moelis and Howard S. Marks

The recipients of the 2015 Joseph Wharton Awards were: Howard S. Marks W67 for Lifetime Achievement: The co-chairman of Oaktree Capital Management and a value investing luminary, Marks originally aspired to be an accountant.

As he detailed in his acceptance speech, Marks knew he wanted to attend Wharton even though his high school guidance counselor advised him that the school would refuse him admission. An acceptance letter and two introductory Wharton finance courses later, the young undergrad Marks was set on his course.

Ken Moelis W80 WG81 for Leadership: The longtime investment banker and founder of the now-public eponymous Wall Street firm, Moelis devoted his speech at the Joseph Wharton Awards gala to thanking the School—before launching into a rousing speech about how “business is good.”

Not business doing philanthropy on the side. Not social enterprise. Business, period. Michael Nutter W79 for Social Impact. The mayor of Philadelphia gets as much credit as Penn and other community members for the continued revitalization of University City, and rightfully so for his shared vision with Penn President Amy Gutmann to transform West Philly, from the banks of the Schuylkill River to well west of the actual campus.

Slava Rubin W00 for Young Leadership. Admittedly, it is interesting to gather a roomful of professionals, many of whom represent the old way of raising capital, then add the innovator who is helping to disrupt tradition. Rubin is co-founder and CEO of Indiegogo, which vies to be one of the top crowdfunding platforms on the planet.

—Matthew Brodsky

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