Wharton Open To Non-Academic Dean


The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Wharton is advertising for a new dean and has left open the possibility that its new dean could be a non-academic from business, government or the non-profit sector. In April, Dean Thomas S. Robertson announced that he would be stepping down at the end of June in 2014..

In an ad placed on The Economist website, the search firm SpencerStuart spells out the job’s specs for the school, which has a $400 million annual budget. SpencerStuart, however, is mum on the compensation for the job.

“The next Dean of the Wharton School will lead one of the world’s finest schools of business and maintain and expand its global standing and its commitment to innovation in scholarship, teaching, business and policy impact and engagement with local, national, and global communities,” according to the ad. “The Dean also serves as a key member of Penn’s leadership team, reporting to Penn Provost Vincent Price and President Amy Gutmann.”


Two of Wharton’s most successful deans in the past 30 years have come from outside the school as leaders of businesses. They are Thomas Gerrity, who had been president of CSC Consulting and Chairman and CEO of the Index Group, and Russell Palmer, the former CEO of Touche Ross International. Palmer, who had been the youngest managing partner of what was then a Big Eight firm in accounting, served as dean from 1983 to 1990. Gerrity was dean from 1990 to 1999.

Given that precedent, it appears that Wharton is keeping a door open to a business person. “Top candidates will have outstanding academic credentials, including a strong record of scholarship consistent with holding a tenured faculty position at Wharton, and possess significant leadership and management experience,” says SpencerStuart. “Applications and expressions of interest are encouraged from individuals in any discipline represented in the Wharton School or those from related fields, including candidates currently working outside of academe in professional practice, government, industry, or the nonprofit sector.”

SpencerStuart said the search will remain open until the position is filled, but encouraged candidates to send in a cover letter and vita no later than Oct. 23 “to ensure the fullest consideration.” It said letters could be sent to a confidential address whartondean@spencerstuart.com.


The ad explained that “In 1881, American entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Wharton established the world’s first collegiate school of business at the University of Pennsylvania, with a vision to produce graduates who would become “pillars of the state, whether in private or in public life.” Today, Penn’s Wharton School has expanded the scope of this vision to become the most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world with nearly 5,000 students, more than 500 faculty in 10 departments, an annual budget of $400 million, and 92,000 alumni who hold positions of responsibility in business, government, public service, social and cultural entities, and education in 140 countries.”

The Scotish-born Robertson was appointed dean of Wharton in August, 2007– eight months before investment bank Bear, Stearns & Co. collapsed and was sold in a fire sale to J.P. Morgan Chase and 13 months before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.



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