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U-M alumna becomes first woman, first African American to serve as dean of Wharton School

Erika H. James will begin her new position on July 1

Erika H. James
Erika H. James (University of Pennsylvania)

ANN ARBOR – University of Pennsylvania has named University of Michigan graduate Erika H. James as its new dean of the Wharton School, effective July 1.

James, who holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan, will become the first female and first African American to hold the position of dean at Wharton.

She comes to Pennsylvania from Atlanta, Georgia, where she has served as dean of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School since 2014. There, she launched an entrepreneurship and innovation lab for all students on campus as well as a corporate think tank, bolstered junior faculty and scholars in the health care innovation, business analytics and decision-based research fields and by the end of her first term increased the faculty by 25 percent.

“Erika is an award-winning scholar and teacher and a strong, proven leader who serves as dean of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann in a statement. “A passionate and visible champion of the power of business and business education to positively transform communities locally, nationally, and globally, she is exceptionally well prepared to lead Wharton into the next exciting chapter of its storied history.”

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

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Prior to joining Emory, James served as the senior associate dean for executive education at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. She has also served as a visiting professor at Harvard Business School and as an assistant professor at Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business.

James, who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pomona College in California, has been named one of the Power 100 by Ebony Magazine and one of the Top 10 Women in Power in Education by Black Enterprise. She currently serves on the board of SurveyMonkey and the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

Known for her passion for diversity, equity and inclusion, James received The Consortium’s inaugural Earl Hill Jr. Faculty Achievement and Diversity Award in 2019.


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