Wharton Opens New West Coast Facility

Although Wharton has had a presence in San Francisco for more than ten years now, the school’s Bay Area outpost for executive education has had a relatively low profile. Wharton seeks to change that with a recent rebranding and a move to a new space that gives the program significantly more room than it had before. Wharton | San Francisco has relocated to the historic Hills Plaza building on the Embarcadero, taking over a space that feels less like that of an East Coast business school and more like a Bay Area tech startup’s offices.

The first class enrolled at Wharton West (as it was then known) in August, 2001. The dot-com meltdown, which was well under way at that point, surely came at a bad time for the fledgling program, but Wharton persevered. Now, Wharton | San Francisco boasts nearly 1,000 alumni of its executive education programs, and its new space will allow the program to grow: It can now accommodate 150 students at one time.

According to an article in Penn’s student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian:

Equipped with high-tech classrooms, faculty spaces, common areas and group conference rooms, the new campus offers students and staff a variety of amenities that Wharton administrators say the old campus lacked.

For Wharton Dean Thomas Robertson, the move is a step forward on the road to establishing a strong presence outside of Philadelphia.

“The relocation of our campus to Hills Plaza is aligned with our vision to establish Wharton as a vibrant presence on both coasts and, moving forward, to position it as a portal to countries in Asia and the Pacific Rim,” Robertson said in a statement in June.

It will be interesting to see if other schools commit to expanding their presence in the United States. While no one has been quick to follow Wharton’s lead, the fact that the school seems to be doubling down on its West Coast program may spur other top universities to look for ways to expand beyond their home markets. Stanford withdrew a bid to build a New York City campus in December (with Cornell eventually and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology eventually winning out). Will another top school try to make the leap from one coast to the other?

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