Robertson Offers ‘State of the School Address’

Reunion Weekend is under way here at Wharton, and as per tradition, Wharton Dean Thomas S. Robertson helped kick off the weekend with his annual “State of the School Address” at Huntsman Hall.

In a nearly hour-long presentation, Robertson updated Wharton alumni on the School’s financial health, spoke about the ever-improving quality of its faculty and students, offered insights into the School’s long-term goals and more.

Here are some highlights.

On the School’s Mission

“Our mission is fairly straightforward. We have to create leading-edge knowledge that’s going to be of value. We have to design and deliver a rich learning experience for our students. We have to have lifelong learning opportunities for our alumni and for executives. And we want to be able to disseminate our knowledge to the business community.” Toward that last point, Robertson noted that Knowledge@Wharton now has 1.4 million subscribers worldwide.

On the Faculty and Students

Wharton hired 23 new faculty members last year, Robertson said, bringing the School’s total faculty to 219—the largest in its history. As for the students? Well, they are as impressive as ever. The median GMAT score among incoming MBAs is 720. “We have really great faculty and absolutely brilliant students,” Robertson said. “They’re fantastic.”

On the School’s Financial Health

“We are financially sound. We are a business school and I think it would be just so embarrassing if Wharton was losing money,” Robertson said, drawing laughter from his audience. “We are meeting all of our budgetary commitments.”

On How the Financial Crisis Has Impacted the Curriculum

Robertson said the faculty have looked “very, very seriously” at the curriculum as the financial crisis has unfolded. Changes continue to be made. “You could not have walked into class [after the crisis hit] and pulled out your lecture notes from the year before, especially if you were in finance or accounting or business ethics.” He added: “We have tried to step back and look at what caused the financial crisis and learn from other countries … We want to know what caused it and what lessons there are to be learned.”

On the School’s Use of Social Media

Wharton has established itself as a leader in the realm of social networking, and the School remains committed to putting technology to smart use, Robertson said. “We are very much committed to technology and we have to take it very seriously. In social media, we now have a director of social media and we’re on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. It’s now a question of how you use these things.”

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