Alumni Micek and Tong receive prestigious university honors
Alumni Ernest S. Micek and Peter Tong were among several recent university honorees. A food-distribution visionary, chemical engineering alumnus Micek was among five distinguished figures to receive honorary degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison at its 2000 spring commencement ceremony, May 19. Electrical engineer Tong was among four UW-Madison alumni to receive the Wisconsin Alumni Association's most prestigious honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, at a May 12, 2000, banquet at the Memorial Union.
Micek helped transform the Minneapolis-based Cargill Corporation from a commodities producer to a global distributor of processed food. He joined the company after earning a degree in chemical engineering in 1959. He was Cargill's president between 1994-98 and its chief executive officer from 1995-1999.
In addition to his work for Cargill, Micek chairs the Emergency Committee for American Trade and has served on the President's Export Council the Advisory Council on Foreign Investments in Ukraine, the Pacific Basin Economic Council and more. He also is a trustee of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
Other recipients honorary-degree recipients, all of whom attended or taught at the university, include:
- Ali Ahmed Attiga, international diplomat
- Uta Hagen, pivotal figure in American drama
- Harvey K. Littleton, founder of the American art glass movement
- Seymour Schwartz, a distinguished surgeon and renowned historian of both cartography and the French and Indian War
A native of Shanghai, China, Tong came to the United States in 1959. He earned his Master's degree from the university in electrical engineering in 1965; a year later, with fellow graduate student Richard Thomas, he started T&T Technology, which designed a first-generation patient digital thermometer. After Tong purchased controlling interest in the company, he devised data acquisition systems for clinical laboratories and merged T&T into Technicon, a leading clinical lab equipment supplier. Throughout his career, Tong has helped create a number of business enterprises in the field of medical technology and has been the leader in several other highly profitable mergers.
In 1997, Tong established Mandarin Partners as a private equity investment partnership with Stonington Partners of New York. This partnership invests in and controls a variety of medically related companies. In 1999, he became a management partner of Stonington.
In an ongoing commitment to the College of Engineering, Tong has helped establish the UW Technology Enterprise Cooperative, an organization that fosters entrepreneurial relationships between faculty, students, and industry. He also helped initiate Vision 2000, the College of Engineering's fund drive for the 21st century, by providing a lead gift. He has funded the new Tong Prototype Prize and Loan Program, which gives seed money and awards prizes for the best prototype of student inventions entered in two College of Engineering competitions.
A member of the UW Foundation board, Tong received the Distinguished Service Award from the College of Engineering in 1994. During his years at UW-Madison, he learned to sail as a member of the UW Hoofers sailing club, and has since become an avid racer.
Other recipients of the WAA's Distinguished Alumni Award include:
- Doris Meissner BS '63 (history), MA '69 (education); commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
- Pongsak Payakvichien MA '71 (journalism); international journalist
- Thomas Pyle, MBA '63; chairman of The Pyle Group and former CEO and principal owner of the Rayovac Corporation