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Establishment of Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative $10 Million Gift: Cross-disciplinary Focus on Retailing

Patty and Jay Baker
Patty and Jay Baker

The Wharton School has announced the creation of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative. Funded by a $10-million gift from Patty and Jay H. Baker, the initiative will expand the School's curriculum and research activities in retailing and promote faculty and student interaction with industry experts from around the world.

"This is an extremely important gift for the Wharton School and for the University of Pennsylvania, where it will provide a terrific framework for our students and for our faculty to engage the retailing industry," said President Judith Rodin. "We are so honored by Patty and Jay Baker's long-standing support of Penn and the Wharton School, and we share their commitment to providing our students with an outstanding and broad array of learning opportunities."

"We are grateful for the Bakers' support," said Wharton Dean Patrick T. Harker. "With one of the best marketing faculties in the world, as well as experts in operations management and diverse but related fields, Wharton is uniquely positioned to explore the complex issues that make retailing such a dynamic field. The entrepreneurial spirit of the School parallels that of today's retailing industry."

In addition to a new undergraduate and MBA secondary concentration in retailing, the Baker Retailing Initiative involves several interdisciplinary components:

  • An endowed faculty chair
  • New courses focusing on retailing and marketing
  • A multi-year, cross-disciplinary retailing research project, directed by Dr. Stephen Hoch, John J. Pomerantz Professor of Marketing
  • A lecture series to provide opportunities for leaders in retailing and related industries to share expertise and insights with students and faculty
  • Endowed support for Ph.D. fellowships to encourage future business faculty to study retailing
  • Internships to support undergraduate students as they gain first-hand experience in the retail industry
  • An endowed fund to support the above activities on a permanent basis

"I am so excited about bringing together two areas that are deeply meaningful to me--the industry of retailing and the Wharton School," said Jay Baker. "Our goal is to develop future leaders of the retailing industry by exposing some of the brightest and most talented students to this very vital and dynamic field."

Mr. Baker, W ‘56, is a member of the Board of Directors of Kohl's Department Stores. He served as president of Kohl's Department Stores from 1986-1999. Previously, he was CEO of the BATUS (British American Tobacco of the U.S.) Buying Office. Prior to that, he was CEO of Thimbles, a ready-to-wear specialty division of BATUS. Mr. Baker also was the senior vice president-softlines of the BATUS Retail Group, and he held the senior position of general merchandise manager of ready-to-wear and director of stores of Saks Fifth Avenue. In addition, he served as senior vice president and general merchandise manager of the budget store of Famous-Barr. Mr. Baker also has worked for Ohrbach's and Macy's.

Jay Baker is a member of the Wharton School Board of Overseers, and a director of Kohl's Department Stores, Briggs & Stratton Corporation and the Philharmonic Board of Naples, Florida.

Patty Baker, who graduated summa cum laude from Hunter College in New York City, holds a degree in theatre and art history. The Bakers have been longtime supporters of the performing arts, and New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, which awarded Mr. Baker an honorary doctorate.

The Bakers have now given $21 million to Penn. In 1999, they gave $11 million to support the construction of an undergraduate center in Jon M. Huntsman Hall. The Patty and Jay H. Baker Forum is the largest single space in the facility and can accommodate an entire undergraduate class of nearly 500 students. That gift also endowed The Baker Leadership Scholars Program, providing financial support to undergraduates throughout Penn. It was among the largest gifts ever made to Penn in support of undergraduate financial aid.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 16, December 17, 2002