Erika H. James Becomes the First Black Woman to Serve as Dean at Penn's Wharton Business School
Photo Credit: University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

Erika H. James Becomes the First Black Woman to Serve as Dean at Penn's Wharton Business School

On July 1, Erika H. James will become not only the first woman but also the first Black person to be named the Dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, according to The Inquirer. The announcement to name James as dean was made by university President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett.

“Erika is an award-winning scholar and teacher and a strong, proven leader,” Gutmann said in a press release.

James served as dean of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan. She also received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pomona College, of the Claremont Colleges, in California.


During her time at the Goizueta Business School, James created an entrepreneurship lab open to all students on campus and grew faculty by 25 percent by the end of her first term. She was also responsible for creating a research-based think tank that introduced more corporate engagement.

Provost Pritchett spoke to James’ ability to lead and involve both students and faculty in meaningful discussions.

“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,” Pritchett said.

James expressed her excitement about becoming Wharton’s next dean and feels, with the business school’s platform, she will be able to create unique opportunities.

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

James will succeed Geoff Garrett, as he becomes dean of the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.