Erika H. James Becomes The First African American Dean of Penn’s Wharton School of Business

Erika H. James Becomes The First African American Dean of Penn’s Wharton School of Business

The prestigious Wharton School of Business is getting a new dean–and making history. The University of Pennsylvania just announced that Erika H. James, the former dean of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, will serve as Wharton’s new dean effective July 1.

She is the first woman and person of color to lead the influential business school, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

James holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pomona College of the Claremont Colleges based in California. She has served as an assistant professor at Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business and a visiting professor at Harvard Business School.

Prior to her deanship, she served as the senior associate dean for executive education at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, working closely with faculty to re-imagine executive education and lifelong learning opportunities. In the past, Erika has also been named one of the Top 10 Women of Power in Education by BLACK ENTERPRISE and as one of the Power 100 by Ebony Magazine.

“Erika has consistently and constructively drawn upon her own scholarship in the areas of leadership development, organizational behavior, gender and racial diversity, and crisis leadership,” University of Pennsylvania Provost Wendell Pritchett said in a statement, “[She is] applying her own insights into human behavior to foster a work culture that allows people to thrive personally and professionally. She has led faculty and student workshops on such topics as unconscious bias and building trust across divides and has been engaged as a consultant by some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious firms.”

James will succeed Geoff Garrett, who will become dean of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

“This is an exciting time to be in business education,” James said in the press release. “The scope and platform of the Wharton School provides an opportunity to create far reaching impact for students, scholars, and the business community.”