Five Penn Staters to receive Honorary Alumni Award

May 10, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five longtime Penn State champions and benefactors will be recognized by the Penn State Alumni Association and receive the Honorary Alumni Award on June 2. 

The ceremony also will feature the presentation of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni and Philanthropist of the Year awards.

The Penn State Alumni Association has given the Honorary Alumni Award since 1973 to recognize individuals who, while not graduates of Penn State, have significantly worked toward bettering the University. Since the award was established, more than 100 individuals have been given Honorary Alumni status. 

For more information about the Honorary Alumni Award, visit

Stephen J. Benkovic is the Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry and holder of the Eberly Chair in Chemistry at Penn State. He is a pioneer in bioorganic chemistry whose highly original work has had a profound impact on our understanding of how proteins function as catalysts. His research has been fundamental in the design of new treatments for bacterial infections, antifungals, HIV and cancer. Benkovic’s recent work focuses on the assembly and kinetic characteristics of the enzymatic machinery responsible for DNA replication and DNA repair.

John A. Dutton is professor emeritus of meteorology and dean emeritus of the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS). Currently, Dutton is president of Prescient Weather Ltd, a State College-based firm focused on management of weather and climate risk, and chief executive of the World Climate Service, a collaborative venture between Prescient Weather and MeteoGroup in Europe. Dutton continues to be a major influence in EMS and a supporter of Penn State. 

Mike Herr, known to Penn Staters and the State College community as “Mike the Mailman,” managed the University Park Post Office for 40 years following eight years of prior service in the downtown State College Post Office. During his “tenure” on campus, Mike delighted in helping his customers by assuring parcels would be treated with tender, loving care and expert postal savvy while extending sincerity and compassion. He conducted his work with a zest for life that established him as an icon and pioneer. 

Edwards P. Schwentker is emeritus professor for the Penn State College of Medicine and continues to teach first- and second-year medical students as a master facilitator in the problem-based learning curriculum. Schwentker’s lifelong dedication to pediatric orthopaedic patients began as a split assignment between the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the Elizabethtown Hospital for Children and Youth, where he served as medical director, providing care for children with congenital and acquired musculoskeletal conditions.

Gordon E. Turow served Penn State for 15 years as director of campus planning and design in the Office of Physical Plant. During his time at Penn State, he was involved in over 400 different building and civic space projects. Of these projects, about 160 were major capital building projects adding more than 5.5 million gross square feet at about $2 billion. These facilities included hospitals, laboratories, classrooms, residence halls, law schools, hockey rinks, parking lots, student unions, children’s gardens, and even a water tower. 

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 16, 2017