Excerpt from Honoring Professor H.A.R. Alex Tilaar

Hotel Mandarin Oriental
Jakarta, Indonesia
May 28, 2012

Tonight, I would like to pay tribute to one of Indiana University’s most distinguished alumni, one of Indonesia’s leading intellectuals, and a man who has made seminal contributions to Indonesian education: Professor H.A.R. Alex Tilaar.

Already holding a master’s degree from the University of Indonesia, Professor Tilaar came to Indiana University, where he earned both a master’s degree and a doctoral degree in our School of Education.

We are also proud to note that Professor Tilaar’s wife, Martha, who is an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur and whose company operates a large chain of spas and retail stores and manufactures thousands of beauty products in Indonesia and southeast Asia, got her start by cutting hair in a shop in the Indiana Memorial Union on the IU Bloomington campus.

And Laurie and I would like to thank the Tilaars most sincerely for their extraordinary hospitality and their reception last night, and for the wonderful morning Laurie spent visiting the Martha Tilaar Center.

After he and his wife returned to Indonesia, Professor Tilaar served for nearly a quarter-century as an education specialist for BAPPENAS, the central planning agency for the Indonesian government.  At the agency, he held several positions—including Deputy Director for Education and Culture, and Assistant Minister for Human Resource Development. Professor Tilaar was essentially was in charge of all external assistance to education in Indonesia.

He also served for many years as a member of the faculty of the State University of Jakarta, and for more than decade, he served as director of the university’s Institution for Management.

Professor Tilaar has been—and continues to be—a prolific scholar. He has published more than 200 articles and 20 books on Indonesian education, including the most comprehensive historical study of Indonesian education to date.

It is a history he had a great hand in shaping.

For his entire career, Professor Tilaar has worked to achieve progressive change that has improved the educational achievement of Indonesian students.

He has promoted the internationalization of Indonesian education and reforms that would modernize the educational system and eliminate vestiges of colonialism. He has been a staunch advocate for social integration and multiculturalism, and, above all, he has been an advocate for Indonesia’s children. In his 2002 book, Social Changes and Education, Professor Tilaar wrote that Indonesia should not copy the Western style of education, but should consider what makes Indonesian students distinctive and create a system that better serves their needs.

Professor Tilaar has served as a member of the Indonesian Teachers Association; the National Research Council; the Indonesian Society for Advancement of Social Sciences; and the Indonesian Lectures Series.

In 1998, he was awarded the “Bintang Jasa Utama,” or “Highest Service Star,” from the Government of Indonesia.

In 2009, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus by Indiana University’s School of Education.

Tonight, I’m very pleased to add to those honors.

Bestowing The Benton Medal

Professor Tilaar, would you please join me at the podium?

Professor Tilaar, it is a great pleasure to be able to celebrate your achievements this evening.

You have dedicated yourself to improving the lives of others, creating opportunity, and providing leadership in a number of different areas of national and international importance.

To recognize distinction such as yours, Indiana University established the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion. The medal has been awarded by the IU President to university leaders and friends around the world in recognition of outstanding service and support to the university and in commendation of those who share and promote the university’s values and goals.

This bronze medal features part of a mural by Thomas Hart Benton, one of America’s most renowned muralists. Painted in the 1930s, it is located in the IU Auditorium on our Bloomington, Indiana campus. The reverse side has the seal of the university. It symbolizes the aspirations and ideals that are the foundation of the search for knowledge.

So by the authority vested in me by the Trustees of Indiana University and in recognition of your distinguished contributions to higher education and to the people of Indonesia, Professor H.A.R. Alex Tilaar, I present you with the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion.

Would you please help me congratulate Professor Tilaar?