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Wharton School names his very first African American and wife as dean in his 139-year history

The prestigious Wharton School of Business appoints his first ever African American and wife to dean in his 139-year history

  • Erika James succeeds Geoffrey Garrett as dean of Wharton School of Business
  • She becomes the very first African American and woman to lead the school
  • Announcement was made Wednesday by the University of Pennsylvania
  • James was the first African American woman dean at the Goizueta Business School
  • She is credited with encouraging the number of women hired as an Emory faculty

The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania has appointed its first ever African-American and female dean to head the prestigious institute.

Erika James takes over the position on July 1, the Philadelphia-based Ivy League school announced Wednesday.

“Erika is an award-winning scientist and teacher and a strong, proven leader who serves as dean of Goizueta Business School at Emory University,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann.

The Wharton School was founded in 1881. It has never had a black woman as a dean.

“A passionate and visible champion of the power of companies and corporate training to positively transform communities locally, nationally and globally, is exceptionally well prepared to lead Wharton to the next exciting chapter of its legendary history.”

Erika James is the first African American and the first woman to ever be called dean at the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania

Erika James is the first African American and the first woman to ever be called dean at the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania

James also made history in 2014 when she was the very first African-American woman to be dean of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

She is credited with growing at the Goizueta faculty by 25 percent at the end of her first term.

By 2019, the school had one of the most gender-diverse faculty populations in higher education.

“This is an exciting time to do business,” James said.

James will accept the post starting July 1, the Philadelphia-based Ivy League school announced Wednesday

“The scope and platform of the Wharton School offer an opportunity to create far-reaching impact for students, scientists and the business world.”

James is an active member of the Board of SurveyMonkey.

Before becoming a dean at Emory, she was a senior associate dean for executive education at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

James has a Ph.D. and a Masters Degree in Organizational Psychology from the Detroit Center of the University of Michigan.

She also has a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Pomona College in Claremont, California.

James was tapped to replace Geoffrey Garrett, who was recently appointed dean of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

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