Almanac Between Issues

June 21, 2007

Thomas S. Robertson: Dean of the Wharton School of the
University of Pennsylvania

Tom Robertson

We are delighted to announce that Thomas S. Robertson will be the next Dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, effective August 1, 2007.  He is an accomplished academic leader, a seasoned administrator, and a highly successful fundraiser who brings a distinctive interdisciplinary and international vision of business education in the 21st century and an enthusiastic commitment to academic excellence and diversity, along with significant decanal experience and a deep knowledge of Wharton.

Currently the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Marketing in the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University and Executive Faculty Director of Emory’s Institute for Developing Nations, Dr. Robertson served as Dean of the Goizueta School from 1998 to 2004, and he is widely credited with building Goizueta into one of the strongest schools at Emory and positioning it as a leading international business school.  Subsequently, as Chair of International Strategy for Emory University’s president, he developed and implemented a University-wide strategy for internationalization and substantial new strategic alliances with universities in China, Korea, and Ethiopia.

Dr. Robertson has deep roots in the Wharton School, where he previously served as Associate Dean for Executive Education from 1984 to 1988.  As a faculty member at Wharton (Professor 1976-94; Associate Professor 1971-76), he held the Pomerantz Professorship from 1987 to 1994 and served as Chair of the Marketing Department (1978-84 and 1988-94).   From 1994 to 1998, he was Sainsbury Professor, Chair of Marketing, and from 1995 to 1998, Deputy Dean of the London Business School.  Earlier in his career, he taught as an Assistant Professor at UCLA’s Anderson School (1966-68) and Harvard Business School (1968-71).  An expert on marketing strategy and competitive behavior, the diffusion of innovation, and consumer behavior—particularly the impact of advertising on children—Dr. Robertson is author, co-author, or editor of a dozen books, including the Handbook of Consumer Behavior and Perspectives on Consumer Behavior (both with Harold H. Kassarjian, editors; Prentice-Hall, 1991) and almost a hundred scholarly articles and book chapters.

Dr. Robertson sees business schools as a “force for good” in the world, and his strong commitment and experience in internationalizing business education is matched by his entrepreneurial spirit and strong fundraising experience.  During his tenure as Dean of the Goizueta School of Business, he reformed and strengthened virtually every aspect of its academic program.  He increased the size of the faculty by 73%; dramatically strengthened the undergraduate program and quality of the student body; doubled revenues; nearly doubled the School’s endowment; developed new international alliances; spurred major growth in executive education programs; expanded the school’s facilities with the construction of a major new building; and launched a new Ph.D. program.  He is known as a statesman-like, soft-spoken, accessible, and visible leader, who combines a highly collaborative, consensus-oriented approach with decisive decision-making, high energy, and great enthusiasm for business education. 

A native of Scotland, Dr. Robertson earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in Marketing from Northwestern University in 1966, after completing his B.A. at Wayne State University in 1963.  He has three children with his wife, Diana, a Professor of Organization and Management at the Goizueta School and a former Assistant Professor at the Wharton School. 

Our selection of Tom Robertson as the next Dean of the Wharton School successfully concludes a semester-long, global search to find a successor to Pat Harker, who will become President of the University of Delaware on July 1.  Jon M. Huntsman, Vice Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and Chair of the Wharton School Board of Overseers served of counsel to the President during this search.

The Consultative Committee, ably chaired by School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Eduardo Glandt, considered a pool of 143 individuals.  Among these, it sought a strategic leader with an uncompromising commitment to academic excellence, an experienced administrator, an able and energetic fundraiser, and a collaborator with a global and interdisciplinary outlook, a demonstrated strong commitment to diversity in all its forms, and a special passion for the Wharton School and the preeminent role that it plays in international business education. 

The Committee, assisted by the executive search firm of Heidrick and Struggles, conducted more than 20 informational interviews and consultative meetings with individuals and groups in the Wharton community, as well as many informal contacts, in order to better understand the scope, expectations, and challenges of the Dean’s position and the opportunities facing the Wharton School in the years ahead.  These consultative activities included conversations with the Dean, Deputy Dean, Vice Deans and department chairs; informal discussions with graduate students; and two open meetings for undergraduate students.  The Committee also solicited advice and nominations via email from all faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the School, and reviewed documents produced by the School’s current strategic planning process.  The vacancy was announced (and input invited from the entire Penn community) in Almanac and advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Times, Hispanic Outlook, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

Tom Robertson brings a timely vision of international business education that is an ideal fit with the Wharton School’s ambitious goal to be the leading creator and provider of management knowledge and education in the world. He is deeply committed to the central importance of recruiting the next generation of faculty to ensure the Wharton School’s continuing eminence. We are confident that, building on the quarter-century of growth and advancement begun under Deans Don Carroll, Russ Palmer, and Tom Gerrity, and culminating with enormous success under Pat Harker, Tom Robertson will lead the Wharton School toward an ever greater realization of this strategic vision.

—Amy Gutmann, President
—Ron Daniels, Provost


Posted 6/21/07

Between Issues Archive | ALMANAC Home | Penn News Page