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Erika James: Wharton's new dean will be first woman, person of color in nearly 140 years

CNN logo CNN 2/27/2020 By Francisco Guzman and Brian Ries, CNN
Erika H. James wearing a white shirt: The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School named Erika James as its next dean. © From The University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School named Erika James as its next dean.

Erika James has a knack for making history.

Five years after she was named the first African-American woman to be named dean of Emory University's Goizueta Business School, James was named as the new dean at the University of Pennsylvania's the Wharton School of Business.

She'll be the first woman and person of color to head the top business school in its 139-year history.

"Erika is an award-winning scholar and teacher and a strong, proven leader who serves as dean of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University," University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann said in a news release.

"A passionate and visible champion of the power of business and business education to positively transform communities locally, nationally, and globally, she is exceptionally well prepared to lead Wharton into the next exciting chapter of its storied history," she said.

James was credited with growing Emory's school faculty by 25% by the end of her first year, where she built an innovation and entrepreneurship lab that opened to all students. By last year the school had one of the most gender-diverse faculty populations in higher education, it said.

"This is an exciting time to be in business education," James said in the release. "The scope and platform of the Wharton School provides an opportunity to create far reaching impact for students, scholars, and the business community."

James served as the senior associate dean for executive education at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business prior to becoming the dean at Emory.

She has a Ph.D. and master's degree in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan, in Detroit and received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Pomona College of the Claremont Colleges, in California.

James will succeed Geoffrey Garrett, who became dean of the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.

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