Wharton Centennial

Wharton Centennial stamp
Photo credit: University Archives

Founded in 1881 by entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Wharton as the world’s first collegiate business institution, the Wharton School celebrated its 100th birthday in 1981.

To mark the occasion, the school issued a Joseph Wharton Professional Management postage stamp. The Anvil Wharton Graduate Alumni Magazine also celebrated the milestone on its front cover (above).

Today, Wharton is one of the world’s top business schools, with nearly 5,000 students, close to 300 faculty members and more than 84,000 alumni in 140 countries. But the school came from humble beginnings. At its start, there were no business textbooks, curricula or even professors.

Wharton collected a host of firsts throughout its first century. It published the first business textbooks, named Albert S. Bolles the first business professor and was the first academic institution to develop administrative services in career management and academic advising.

Edmund J. James served as Wharton’s first dean (then called a director) and used his influence among Philadelphia’s elite to obtain financing for additional faculty and research opportunities.

In the centennial year of 1981, Donald C. Carroll led the school, and was the first dean to come from outside Wharton. He introduced the school’s first interdisciplinary programs and created inter-school degrees.

Members of the Centennial Wharton Class of 1981 have gone on to successful careers all over the world: Farouk El-Okdah is the governor and chairman of the board of the Central Bank of Egypt; Akinari Horii is the assistant governor of the Bank of Japan; Mark Zandi is the chief economist and co-founder of Moody’s Economy.com; and Brian L. Roberts is the chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation.

For more information on historical events at Penn, visit the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.

Originally published on May 7, 2009