This October, members of the Wharton Board of Overseers; the Graduate Executive Board; the Undergraduate Executive Board; the Asian Executive Board; the Executive Board for Europe, the Middle East and Africa; the Latin American Executive Board; and the Alumni Executive Board meet on Wharton’s campus. Handpicked for advice and insight that they can offer to the School, the board members converge from locations around the world to discuss issues relevant to Wharton’s present and future. They also devote time to recognize their outstanding peers.
This year, James G. Dinan, W’81, and Jeffrey S. Katz, WG’71, were honored with the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service. Robert G. Goergen, WG’62, received the ultimate recognition, the Dean’s Medal, given to a leader of private enterprise, public service or academia whose contributions to the global economy have helped to create wealth and value while promoting a peaceful, prosperous world.
After talking with the three award recipients and listening to their acceptance speeches, what became apparent was their sense of surprise and humility in receiving these distinctions.
What came through, as well, was their sentiment of having already received so much from Wharton.
Goergen recalled how “remarkable” it was that Wharton had given him a full fellowship to attend. The “very intense” MBA education he received gave him the tools to succeed in his various careers in banking, private equity and entrepreneurialism, in particular his current role as founder and leader of Blyth Inc. As an entrepreneur, Goergen prizes the education Wharton can give to current and future students, in large part thanks to his funding of the Robert B. Goergen Professor of Entrepreneurship and the Goergen Entrepreneurial Management Programs.
Katz was “happy to say” he got into Wharton in the first place. The real estate mogul, chief executive and principle owner of Sherwood Equities Inc., best known for his role in redeveloping Times Square to its current bright-lights glory, has been giving back to the School ever since, including returning to campus to meet with students and supporting the Wharton Annual Fund. When asked why, he said that it is the right thing to do and that it feels good, but the word “fun” came up too.
“I feel like I learn more than I give,” he said.
For Dinan, who founded and runs the hedge fund York Capital, his time as a student “opened a whole new world to him,” an “awakening” that launched his career in finance and made him realize what he was capable of achieving. Dinan has since created the Wharton James G. Dinan Scholarship Fund and the Dinan Leadership Program Research Fund. Giving back for Dinan is about ensuring that the School can continue to help future generations as it did him.
“I want the School to continue to be a special place,” he said.