San Francisco: 10 Years Down, Many More to Go


With the Bay Bridge in the background, the Wharton sign is proudly displayed outside the Hills Brothers Building, the new home of Wharton | San Francisco.

On Saturday, Oct. 29, a party on the Bay specifically marked the 10-year anniversary of Wharton | San Francisco, but it celebrated so much more than that.

During his speech to alumni, families and friends at the celebration, Vice Dean of Wharton | San Francisco Doug Collom outlined the chronology of those 10 years, from former Dean Patrick Harker’s vision in 2000, to the first 65 students in Aug. 2001, to the development of programs like the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative and Nonprofit Board Leadership Program, to the introduction of eight new global modular programs in 2012.

“I think a decade is fairly a good metric by which to measure success,” Dean Thomas S. Robertson said at the reception.

He then listed some of the other ways to measure Wharton’s success on the West Coast: a world-class MBA Program for Executives, a thriving portfolio of non-degree programs for executives, innovative entrepreneurship programming and increased brand recognition.

When we interviewed several Wharton | San Francisco alumni and students during the celebration, that last achievement came up often. Brand recognition is a point of pride for Wharton’s West Coasters. The Wharton brand, with its reputation for rigor, knowledge and excellence, has made an impression from San Diego to Silicon Valley, from Arizona to Oregon.

Our interviewees credited Wharton’s brand name and the outstanding education Wharton offers with job promotions and bold career moves, both within their organizations and to new enterprises.

For Kate Gallego, WG’12, this brand recognition matters at her job in Arizona. She works at a public utility, and when she returns to work during the week and a problem arises and needs solving, her boss likes to ask her: So what does your “Wharton crystal ball” say?

The Wharton degree—whether from San Francisco or Philadelphia—validates this and certifies that professionals have taken their knowledge, expertise and ambition to the next level.

The alumni and students we interviewed appreciated Wharton’s dedication to the West Coast campus, best symbolized by the new campus at the Hills Plaza. Alumni joked that they were “jealous” that current students would be moving into the new space in January. Current students were sad to leave the comfort of the Folgers Building but couldn’t contain their excitement when touring the new campus.

A visit to the new site was part of the Saturday night festivities—despite it being a construction site and visitors needing to wear
a hardhat.

Both Dean Robertson and Vice Dean Collom credited many for Wharton | San Francisco’s success at the 10-year mark, from those who have been on the ground for the entire time—Vice Dean Len Lodish and Associate Director Juana Droessler—to Harker and Dave Schmittlein (former deputy dean) and alumni Jon Huntsman, W’59, HON’96; Lew Platt, WG’66; and David Pottruck, C’70, WG’72, whose leadership and vision made the 2001 launch possible.

—By Matthew Brodsky

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