In one of the largest gifts in recent Wharton history, Patty and Jay H. Baker in October donated $15 million to endow permanently the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center. Jay Baker, W’56, is a member of the Wharton Board of Overseers and retired president and director of Kohl’s Corporation, the Milwaukee-based department store chain.
Building on the successful foundation of the School’s Baker Retailing Initiative, the expanded Center will offer innovative programs for graduate and undergraduate students; support and disseminate cutting-edge research with both academic and industry applications; enhance student activity support and curriculum development; and offer a broad array of outreach initiatives to focus attention on the retail sector.
“Jay and Patty Baker are treasured members of the Penn community,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in announcing the gift. “Their generous commitment allows the Baker Center to continue to draw on expertise from across the University to generate leading-edge knowledge with important practical applications for retail, which is a dynamic and incredibly important sector of the economy, both in the United States and across the world.” Added Wharton Dean Thomas S. Robertson: “We are honored by Jay and Patty Baker’s gift. The Baker Center offers an increasingly important and popular career choice for both our MBAs and undergraduates. With this gift, the Center will continue to be the premier source of knowledge within the retailing industry. Our goal is to have an impact on the welfare of retail nationally and globally.” The Bakers have previously endowed the Patty and Jay H. Baker Professorship, the Patty and Jay H. Baker Ph.D. Fellowship, the Jay H. Baker 50th Reunion Scholarship, and the Baker Leadership Endowed Scholarship, as well as the Patty and Jay H. Baker Forum in Jon M. Huntsman Hall, Wharton’s flagship building on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
“Patty and I are happy and grateful to be able to fund in perpetuity the Baker Retailing Center at Wharton,” Baker said. “The Center will continue work that began with the Baker Retailing Initiative and work closely with the industry, students, and faculty to help develop the leaders of retailing. A global Center that will create cutting-edge research, discovery and innovation, it will become the premier Retailing Center.” He continued, “It is wonderful to give while we’re living and actually see the benefits derived from our gift, and feel the immense joy from that.”