What Makes Wharton Different
Student involvement. There’s an old joke at Wharton that the school has “just enough clubs for every student to be president of one,” and although that statement might be just a teensy bit of an exaggeration, the array of organizations is wide. Inside and outside of the classroom, students play a leading role in defining the Wharton experience for themselves, their classmates, and future students. The expectation is that Wharton students will be active members of the community—a standard that manifests itself in all aspects of the Wharton experience.
Experiential learning. Nearly every elite business school is advertising its “action-based” or “experiential” approach, but Wharton has recently undergone a comprehensive branding and identity initiative, resulting in a new brand platform called “Knowledge for Action.” This brand platform emphasizes and communicates Wharton’s strengths of rigorous research, dynamic thinking, and thoughtful leadership. Gaining knowledge and putting it into practice is seamlessly integrated into the student experience through initiatives such as the Global Consulting Practicum. In addition, proprietary simulation exercises are woven into the curriculum in both core and elective courses, primarily in marketing and management.
Leadership. Building leadership acumen is a core of the Wharton program. While we’d be hard pressed to say that leadership is more important at Wharton than it is at other top schools, opportunities to build this skill abound at this school. Wharton features a dedicated Center for Leadership and Change Management, which forms the core of its leadership program. Combining experiential learning and global exposure, Leadership Ventures are perhaps Wharton’s most popular leadership offering and may include intense mountaineering, glacier trekking, mountain biking, rafting, sailing, rock climbing, or even military combat training.
The dean. In July 2014, Geoffrey Garrett assumed the role of the Wharton School’s 13th dean. A former Wharton management department faculty member (he specializes in political economy), he previously served as dean of two business schools in Australia, the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales. In an interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian, Dean Garrett indicated that he would “leverage” the school’s financial reputation and pointed to “globalization” and “technology” as two themes of his tenure in in Australia—a clue, perhaps, of the direction Wharton will head under his leadership. Given Wharton’s reputation as a finance school, Dean Garrett’s focus on globalization and innovation may, on the surface, appear to make him a surprise pick. However, Garrett believes in not resting on the laurels of Wharton’s heritage and notes in a recent interview that “[Wharton] need[s] to come to the world” as much as the world came to Wharton in the past. Shaking things up with the opening of the Penn Wharton China Center is one example of how Garrett is putting his words into action.