Wharton School Names Its First Black, First Female Dean In History

Erika H. James has made history at the prestigious business school founded nearly 140 years ago.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has made history by naming Erika H. James the next dean of the prestigious business school. James will be both the first Black person and first woman to lead Wharton.

James currently serves as the John H. Harland dean of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta. Since becoming dean of Goizueta in 2014, James has grown the faculty by 25%, the business school said in a statement, adding that she “sparked a culture of collaboration within the school and the broader university community.”

James is a “passionate and visible champion of the power of business and business education to positively transform communities locally, nationally, and globally,” University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann said in a statement.

“She is exceptionally well prepared to lead Wharton into the next exciting chapter of its storied history,” the statement added.

James holds a doctoral degree and a master’s degree in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan. She was previously named one of the Top 10 Women of Power in Education by Black Enterprise and was listed on the Power 100 by Ebony Magazine.

“This is an exciting time to be in business education,” she said in a tweet Wednesday about her new appointment.

James will begin her new role at the Wharton School on July 1.

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