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Forté Congratulates Erika H. James for Making History as Wharton’s New Dean

Longtime Forté supporter Erika H. James took on the role of dean of the Wharton School, effective July 1, 2020. Formerly dean of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, Erika has been a guest speaker and moderator at Forté’s MBA Women’s Leadership Conference several times.

The announcement that Erika James would succeed Geoffrey Garrett made her the first woman and first person of color to lead Wharton in its 139-year history. Forté is thrilled to see her take this historic step forward in her career.

“Erika is an award-winning scholar and teacher and a strong, proven leader who serves as dean of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University,” University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann said in a statement. “A passionate and visible champion of the power of business and business education to positively transform communities locally, nationally, and globally, she is exceptionally well prepared to lead Wharton into the next exciting chapter of its storied history.”

Throughout her career, Erika has been committed to meaningful cross-disciplinary collaboration, superb scholarship, passionate teaching, and excellence through diversity and inclusion. After becoming Goizueta’s dean in 2014, she led the effort to build an innovation and entrepreneurship lab for all students on campus. She grew the Goizueta faculty 25 percent in her first term, recruiting in key academic areas such as behavioral and decision-based research, business analytics, and healthcare innovation. In 2019, Erika was awarded the Earl Hill Jr. Faculty Achievement and Diversity Award from The Consortium, an organization committed to increasing diversity in business. She has also been named one of the “Top 10 Women of Power in Education” by Black Enterprise and one of the “Power 100” by Ebony.

Speaking with Wharton Magazine after the announcement, Erika stressed that a dean can’t lead alone. “Only with a committed team and a clear purpose can we expect to achieve extraordinary outcomes,” she said. “I’ve learned that talent lives everywhere and comes in all kinds of packages.” She works to “showcase value in people even when their strengths or contributions are not being realized in their current role or position.”

Her appointment sparked excitement across campus and throughout the global Wharton community. It’s a feeling that’s mutual, James said. “Since I am an academic, it’s probably not surprising that I am intellectually curious. I am excited to learn how Wharton engages its immediate university and community environment, and to explore how my experiences and leadership proclivities can contribute to creating opportunities in these new contexts. I am also looking forward to learning from a new set of faculty colleagues and alumni who have been pivotal in so many sectors of society around the world. Finally, I am eager to connect with the Wharton students, to understand their passions and academic interests, and to help shape the next generation of leaders.”

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