About Wharton

Since our founding as the first collegiate business school in 1881, Wharton has embraced a spirit of innovation, analytics, and entrepreneurship in business.

The World’s First Business School

Joseph Wharton, Founder

In 1881, American entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Wharton established the world’s first collegiate school of business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Wharton’s pioneering vision was to produce graduates who would become “pillars of the state, whether in private or in public life.” The Wharton School maintains a long tradition of educating visionary business leaders in academia, business, government, and not-for-profit organizations.

Today, Wharton has expanded the scope of this vision to become the most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world — with over 240 faculty members, 98,000 alumni, 5,000 students across 10 academic departments, 20 research centers, and more than 9,000 executive education participants annually.

Wharton's Deans

Geoffrey Garrett, 2014-Present

Geoffrey Garrett is Dean, Reliance Professor of Management and Private Enterprise, Professor of Management at the Wharton School, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He became Dean of the Wharton School in 2014, and was previously a member of the Wharton faculty in the Management Department from 1995 to 1997.

Prior to his return to Penn, Dr. Garrett was dean of the business schools at both the University of Sydney and UNSW, in his native Australia.

Read the Dean’s Bio

Thomas S. Robertson, 2007-2014

In his tenure as dean, Thomas S. Robertson championed business as a force for good. He institutionalized three strategic pillars—Social Impact, Innovation, and Global Initiatives. He oversaw a comprehensive overhaul of the MBA curriculum, established the MBA “Semester in San Francisco,” and created the concept of Global Modular courses. He also led major initiatives—Lifelong Learning for alumni, the Wharton Public Policy Program, the establishment of the Penn-Wharton China Center, and a major commitment to online learning. Despite the financial crisis of 2008, Robertson led Wharton to exceed its campaign fundraising goal, raising $607 million, which allowed an increase in faculty size and a continued focus on faculty and student standards of excellence.

Patrick T. Harker, 1999-2007

Patrick T. Harker advanced and expanded the academic mission of the School, drawing many eminent faculty. He created Wharton | San Francisco and forged an alliance with INSEAD, the leading non-U.S. based business school. He also oversaw the launching of two innovative and successful initiatives: Knowledge@Wharton and Wharton School Publishing. Harker led Wharton to complete the largest fundraising campaign in its history, raising over $450 million.

Thomas P. Gerrity, 1990-1999

Thomas P. Gerrity oversaw the revolutionary reengineering of the School’s MBA and undergraduate programs to reflect the increasingly global and technology-oriented world, ultimately bringing the School unprecedented worldwide recognition for excellence. During his tenure, student applications, student quality, and endowment reached record levels. Additionally, he spearheaded the fundraising effort for Jon M. Huntsman Hall, the world’s premier business school academic facility, completed in 2002.

Russell E. Palmer, 1983-1990

Russell E. Palmer laid the foundation for Wharton to move into the forefront of business education at the graduate, undergraduate, and executive levels. Through his five-year “Plan for Preeminence,” Palmer successfully strengthened and broadened the faculty, increased the quality of applications the School received, oversaw the building of the Steinberg Conference Center (a state-of-the-art executive education facility) and furthered the process of creating an international and cross-disciplinary curriculum.

Donald C. Carroll, 1972-1983

At the time of his selection, Donald C. Carroll was the first dean to have come from outside the School. During his tenure, he enhanced the School’s depth and strength through the development of interdisciplinary programs and the creation of inter-school degrees, including the undergraduate degree in Management & Technology. Additionally, Carroll significantly advanced Wharton’s international outreach efforts and executive education initiatives.

Willis J. Winn, 1958-1971

Willis J. Winn is credited with leading curricular reform and upgrading the quality of Wharton’s academic programs, the PhD and entrepreneurial programs in particular. In addition, Winn further strengthened Wharton’s reputation for research through his active recruitment of senior scholars.

C. Arthur Kulp, 1955-1957

C. Arthur Kulp, the first dean in Wharton’s history to be named with the participation of faculty, tragically died only two years into his administration. Prior to his death, however, Dean Kulp brought recognition to the School because of his expertise in the field of social insurance and his part in designing the Social Security System.

C. Canby Balderston, 1942-1954

C. Canby Balderston’s most significant contribution was the construction of the first building for the Wharton School, Dietrich Hall. Wharton faculty, staff, and students had long been waiting for a building of their own, and it was Balderston who spearheaded a fundraising campaign to make the new construction possible.

Alfred H. Williams, 1939-1941

A protégé of Willits, Alfred H. Williams had chaired the Geography and Industry Department and the School’s Curriculum Committee prior to being named dean. Despite a very promising future at the Wharton School, his tenure lasted only two years when he left to become president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank.

Joseph H. Willits, 1933-1939

During his administration, Joseph H. Willits emphasized the importance of economic research and its application to the affairs of business. By raising the standards for faculty and fostering the pursuit of academic business research, Willits helped further Wharton’s reputation as a prestigious institution of scholarly research.

Emory R. Johnson, 1919-1933

Emory R. Johnson brought depth to Wharton’s programs by requiring professional specialization among faculty and students and, for the first time, organizing faculty into academic departments and subject groups. Johnson also brought the MBA program, once a part of the University curriculum, under Wharton’s control.

William C. McClellan, 1916-1919

William C. McClellan worked closely with University trustees to raise the stature of the School within the University and secure continued support from outside benefactors.

Roswell C. McCrea, 1912-1916

Under Roswell C. McCrea’s leadership, the Wharton faculty continued its study of social problems and strengthened ties with the City of Philadelphia’s government administrators, who relied upon Wharton faculty for their expertise.



Wharton’s Directors

Simon N. Patten, 1896-1912

Influenced by the Progressive Movement, Simon N. Patten introduced concepts of “practical philanthropy” into Wharton’s curriculum and established a two-year course in social work. Under Patten’s leadership, Wharton was again in a position to influence government administrators who sought advice from Wharton faculty on various social problems of the day.

Edmund J. James, 1883-1896

Wharton’s first Director, Edmund J. James, was instrumental in expanding Wharton’s program and designing a practical curriculum that encouraged professional specialization along with instruction in the social sciences. James used his reputation and influence with Philadelphia’s leadership to obtain financing for additional faculty and to bring research opportunities to the School.



In 2017-2018, Wharton had 4,993 Students spread across 4 Degree Programs:

  • 2,559 Undergraduates
  • 1,775 MBA Students
  • 445 EMBA Students
  • 214 Doctoral Students

In addition, approximately 9,200 people participated in Wharton’s Executive Education program


  • 240 Standing Faculty Members
  • 236 Non-Standing Faculty Members (Full- and Part-time)
  • 116 Female Faculty Members
  • 116 International Faculty Members


Wharton has 98,000 Alumni and 77 Alumni Clubs spread across 153 countries

  • 930 Africa & Middle East
  • 5,660 Asia
  • 380 Australia & New Zealand
  • 1,370 Caribbean & Latin America
  • 4,510 Europe
  • 79,280 North America

Wharton’s Timeline

1881 First business school at a university
1881-1901 School name: Wharton School of Finance and Economy
1902-1971 School name: Wharton School of Finance and Commerce
1881-1910 First business textbooks
1921 First research center at a business school, Industrial Research Unit
1953-present First and longest-running custom executive education program, Securities Industries Institute
1970 First MBA program in health care management
1972-present School name: Wharton School
1973 First center for entrepreneurship
1978 First joint-degree program in management & technology
1983 First joint-degree MBA/MA program in international management, Joseph H. Lauder Institute
1993 Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) is created, becoming the global gold standard in business intelligence, data analytics, and research
1994 First joint-degree undergraduate program in international studies at a business school, Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business
1988–1994 First executive advisory boards in Europe, Asia, and Latin America
1999 Knowledge@Wharton, the School’s biweekly online business journal, is launched.
2001 Established West Coast MBA Program for Executives — Wharton | San Francisco
2001 Established an Alliance with INSEAD in the global development and delivery of management education
2003 First doctoral program in ethics and legal studies
2005 Created new undergraduate joint-degree program, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management
2010 Introduced Global Modular Courses, intensive for-credit workshops delivered in 13 countries around the world
2011 Launched Wharton Digital Press, offering business intelligence on digital publishing platforms
2012 Rolled out MOOCs, with Wharton Online becoming the top business school on Coursera with 2.7 million students in 18 courses
2013 Opened Penn Wharton Public Policy Center in Philadelphia and Washington, DC
2014 Launched Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School, presenting 40 hours of unique live programming on Sirius XM
2015 Opened Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing, the university’s only center outside the United States