Indonesia’s Equity Advocate

International Alumni Award recipient Bambang Brodjonegoro fights for equality

Bambang Brodjonegoro (Image by Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg, courtesy of Getty Images)
International Alumni Award recipient Bambang Brodjonegoro fights for equality

As finance minister for the Republic of Indonesia, Bambang Brodjonegoro, MUP ’95, PHD ’97 FAA, instituted a tax amnesty program that increased tax compliance and economic growth while reducing social inequality. His budget policy brought government funding directly to all of the nation’s 74,000 villages for the first time.

In recognition of his accomplishments, the University awarded Brodjonegoro the 2020 Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement, which honors an international graduate who has improved his or her nation or the world through science, art or human welfare.

Brodjonegoro came to Illinois after earning a scholarship from the University of Indonesia to attend U of I’s Master of Urban Planning Program, thanks to an Indonesian professor who encouraged him to apply. As a U of I student, Brodjonegoro says he experienced “a bit of panic” during his first exam when he had to compose his answers in English, but was “joyful” when he experienced his first snowfall.

Working as a teaching assistant, Brodjonegoro was surprised by “the attitude [displayed by] undergrads,” as he found American students to be less deferential to teachers than they are in his homeland.

Still, he enjoyed teaching, and eventually was named dean of economics at the University of Indonesia, and then director-general of the Islamic Research and Training Institute in Saudi Arabia.

Brodjonegoro’s career in government began when he was appointed Indonesia’s vice minister of finance in 2013. Other appointments such as finance minister and national development planning minister soon followed. In his current role as minister of research and technology, he facilitates Indonesian researchers who are working on COVID-19-related medicine, therapies and vaccines, as well as efforts to reduce imports of medical equipment.

Brodjonegoro notes that the Sheth Award “will keep motivating me to do my best and [will] ensure that the University [remains] a reliable partner” in future initiatives.