The Wharton Club of New York may be hosting the event, but the Joseph Wharton Dinner attracts attendees from all over the alumni diaspora. Perhaps that is because the awards are given to alumni who have global name recognition and impact.
This year’s Joseph Wharton Awards recipients were Leonard A. Lauder, W’54; Brian L. Roberts, W’81; Dr. David B. Nash, WG’86; and Ivanka M. Trump, W’04.
Lauder, who earned the award for lifetime achievement for his career at Estée Lauder Inc. and his philanthropic pursuits for and beyond Penn, summed up the sentiments of all four honorees, when he praised Wharton’s impact on his life.
“When I was [at Wharton], I did not know what I was learning,” he said, adding that since, he’s learned that his Wharton education taught him how to think, figure things out, do things right and, most importantly, do the right things.
As awardee for leadership, Roberts, who is chairman and CEO of Comcast, was humble in his appreciation for the recognition.
“There’s something very magical about the four years you are in college. This recognition tonight takes me back to the formative, special time I spent at Wharton. So this award means a lot, especially since my dad [Ralph J. Roberts, W’41, HON’05] received the Lifetime Achievement Award at this same event just a few years ago,” he told Wharton Magazine.
For the second year in a row, the Joseph Wharton Award for social impact went to a star in the health care field. Last year, Dr. Mehmet Oz, M’86, WG’86, won, and he returned to the ceremony to introduce this year’s awardee. Nash, the dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health, found the trend intriguing and indicative.
“I think maybe [Dr. Oz] and I started something. And, you know, Wharton’s health administration program, the Health Care Management program, is probably the most famous in the world, so, selfishly, I’d love to be able to hand the award to another Wharton physician who’s been out there making a difference,” he said in an interview.
Another group of Whartonites making a difference in the world are the young alumni, and this year’s young leadership awardee represents the incredible ambition that today’s graduates have. Trump is a TV celebrity, worldwide hospitality and real estate leader, best-selling author, fashion entrepreneur, new parent and more.
She thanked the audience for the honor and said she hoped to fulfill their expectations, and in a conversation with us, she also stressed how many potential stars are just starting their careers out of Wharton.
“There are so many exciting people that have tremendous potential, and it’s a question of how they execute over the decades to come,” she said.
President Amy Gutmann, HOM’04, said that the winners represent “four perfect calls.” All four honorees represent people who follow in the footsteps of the School’s founder, Joseph Wharton, and the University’s founder, Benjamin Franklin.
“They have taken the finest education … and made this world, our world, a mighty better place,” she told the night’s audience.
The Joseph Wharton Awards Dinner took place at the Essex House Hotel in New York City on Oct. 4. Under the leadership of Kenny Beck, WG’87, the awards dinner has become a reinvigorated version of the gala that took place in the 1970s and 80s.