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With $15M Gift, Wharton Launches Analytics Department

Wharton is getting analytical. File photo

The top business school in the United States has heard the message loud and clear: Analytics is no passing fad.

With the help of an anonymous $15 million donation, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania announced Tuesday (May 7) the launch of Analytics at Wharton, uniting the school’s big data-based teaching, research, and industry engagement initiatives — and sending its own message about the importance of analytics in graduate business education.

“In the 21st century, leaders will increasingly use data and analytics to develop insights that will help them make better decisions and become better leaders. The creation of Analytics at Wharton demonstrates our commitment to using big data to transform how business is done,” said Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett.

“This gives us the opportunity to expand our analytics research, curriculum, and industry engagement to respond to the enormous interest from our students, our faculty, and business at large in championing the responsible use of data to benefit society.”


Eric T. Bradlow, chair of Wharton’s Marketing Department, will be the new vice dean of analytics at Wharton. UPenn photo

Of course, analytics is not a new pursuit at Wharton, ranked the top B-school in the U.S. this year by both Poets&Quants and U.S. News. The school offers 47 analytics-based courses across undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and 14% of MBA students — approximately 121 students in the latest enrolled class — major in business analytics. Moreover, more than 1,100 students currently participate in Wharton’s undergrad and MBA analytics clubs, and the school takes part in 18 analytics-related conferences and public events annually. Online, Wharton’s analytics footprint is even larger, with tens of thousands of learners worldwide enrolled in programs and courses through Wharton Executive Education and Wharton Online.

But now, with a $15 million donation, the school is going a step further, creating the Data Science and Business Analytics Fund to accelerate innovations “and leverage the opportunities for business and society generated by the data and technology revolution,” according to a school news release. The flagship of that effort will be the new department, led by Eric T. Bradlow, a professor of marketing, economics, education, and statistics and now Wharton’s new vice dean for analytics.

“At Wharton, our teaching and research define the cutting edge in using data analysis to inform decision-making,” says Bradlow, who is also chair of the school’s Marketing Department and co-founder of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative. “Our students and faculty are applying these methods in real time to real problems, meeting the growing needs of organizations seeking talented people who can turn raw data into actionable business intelligence.”


According to the school’s announcement, Analytics at Wharton will bring together five existing programs at the school:

  • Customer Analytics, which focuses on analytical methods to further business intelligence for companies centered around granular customer-level data;
  • Penn Wharton Budget Model, a nonpartisan, research-based initiative that provides accurate, accessible and transparent economic analysis of public policy’s fiscal impact;
  • People Analytics, which uses data to help organizations make smarter decisions about people by understanding the character, culture, collaboration, and careers at their organizations;
  • Wharton Neuroscience, which develops new technologies that can collect and analyze novel forms of behavioral data at the nexus of business and brain science; and
  • Wharton Research Data Services, an award-winning research platform and business intelligence tool used by corporate, academic, governmental, and non-profit clients at 400+ organizations worldwide.

The anonymous $15 million pledge is part of the largest fundraising campaign ever launched by Wharton, the More Than Ever campaign that has raised nearly $800 million toward a goal of $1 billion, including the largest-ever single donation to the school last October. The campaign began in 2013, went public in April 2018, and concludes in 2021.