It is no secret that today’s competitive environment places increasing demands for breadth on every professional manager. We believe that Renaissance leaders of tomorrow will need even more breadth and depth and integrated perspectives than ever before.
Accordingly, we have created one of the true competitive advantages of Wharton and Penn through a unique structure that encourages and thrives on cross-disciplinary and joint-degree programs. These programs cut across all of Penn’s outstanding schools — from Wharton to the School of Arts & Sciences to the Law and Medical Schools to the Engineering and Nursing Schools. No other university can match the breadth of interdisciplinary offerings and activity. It has always been a distinctive attribute of Penn. Now it is truly an idea whose time has come.
Our joint and dual-degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have never been more relevant. The pioneering undergraduate joint-degree Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology between Wharton and Engineering anticipated the important intersections between business and engineering when it was founded 20 years ago. The Lauder Institute (dual MBA/MA in International Studies with the School of Arts and Sciences) paved the way in 1983 for preparing leaders for the global marketplace. And the newly-endowed Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business between Wharton and Arts & Sciences is the first of its kind to provide undergraduates with a unique dual-degree program in business, language and liberal arts (see the School Update).
Our commitment to interdisciplinary initiatives continues to grow with several new programs announced in the past year. These include a new joint undergraduate degree program between Wharton and the Nursing School; a program between Wharton’s Undergraduate Division and the Penn Law School that allows Wharton students to earn their bachelor’s and JD in six years; as well as two new joint undergraduate minors between Wharton and the School of Arts & Sciences, one in actuarial mathematics and another in the history of the American legal system.
The results are clear: First, these programs bring faculty together across disciplines in a way that strengthens intellectual leadership throughout Penn. Second, these programs attract the highest quality students to the University. For example, the M&T and IS & B Programs draw students from the top 2 percent of their high school class with average SAT scores of nearly 1500 and 1479 respectively. And behind these statistics are truly extraordinary young men and women who are not only academically very capable, but who also bring with them a wealth of leadership experience, a wide range of work and community service activities, and a keen desire to broaden their skills and knowledge and contribute real leadership in business practice. Not surprisingly, they are also energetic and enthusiastic, and they contribute enormously to the Wharton and Penn communities beyond the classroom as well.
I am delighted that Wharton is playing such a key role in developing greater interdisciplinary opportunities for our faculty and students. These efforts give Wharton and Penn a distinct competitive advantage and help ensure that our graduates become the Renaissance leaders of the 21st century.
Thomas P. Gerrity