Awarded to an alumnus or alumna whose selfless and caring work and deeds benefit society and humankind.
S.P. "Wije" Wijegoonaratna '87 witnessed the suffering and devastation first hand after the Southeast Asian tsunami as he walked with his father through tent shelters that were hastily erected in an area that once held homes and a community. There were fishing boats flipped on their sides, houses flattened, and people who had lost everything except the clothes on their backs. Just days before, the December 26, 2004 tsunami had ravaged the seaside communities of Southwestern Sri Lanka, leaving hundreds dead and over 120,000 people displaced in that area alone. At that time Wije, who was visiting from New York City, and his father, a retired United Nations Development Programme engineer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka, decided that they had to help - and housing was the most visible need.
Thus, in February 2005, Sri Lanka Care Foundation ("SLC") was born. Established by Wije as a U.S. public charity to promote and foster the rehabilitation of damaged homes and low-cost housing reconstruction in the areas of Sri Lanka affected by the tsunami, SLC has evolved into an organization dedicated to breaking the poverty cycle through educational and community development initiatives. Wije works tirelessly to raise funds for SLC causes and people, and to raise awareness of the plight of the poor. Additionally, not only does he donate his time and fund programs, but he also covers all the operating expenses of SLC.
In the seven years since the tsunami, SLC has rehabilitated five schools, built a new dining hall, kitchen, administration wing and boys hostel for the largest orphanage in Sri Lanka, built more than 300 homes, sponsored over 100 school students, and helped over 50 families revive their vocation through a farming and fishing tools program. In all these programs, SLC partners with Hathbodhi Rajamaha Viharya, a highly respected in-country public charity. Through SLC, Wije has helped untold numbers of families and children rebuild their lives.
Wije earned his bachelor of science in computer science from Bucknell University. As an undergraduate, he was consistently named to the Dean's List for his academic achievements and enjoyed spending time with professors in independent research outside of class. He has served the University as a class committee member in the days since graduation.
Professionally, Wije has been investing in global markets for more than 20 years, and at present, he is a senior portfolio manager with a global macro strategy mandate at a hedge fund in New York City. Prior to his current position, he was chief executive officer and chief investment officer at Galle Global Macro (GGM), a global macro hedge fund. Before starting GGM, Wije was a partner and member of the executive committee at Fortress Investment Group, LLC, Global Macro Liquid Markets Fund.
Wije lives in New York City with his wife, Michele and their two children, Rohan and Sophia.