When the University announced that it had chosen Dr. Patrick Harker CE’81 GCE’81 G’83 Gr’83 to be the next dean of the Wharton School in 2000, then-President Judith Rodin CW’66 Hon’04 described him as “one of the brightest young minds in America.” Last month the University of Delaware signaled its agreement with that assessment by naming the 48-year-old Harker its next president.
Harker, the Reliance Professor of Management and Private Enterprise as well as dean, will assume his new position at Delaware on July 1. A search committee is being formed to find his successor.
Harker’s accomplishments and innovations include the creation of Wharton West, the school’s San Francisco-based campus, and forging an alliance with INSEAD, the leading non-American business school. He also oversaw the launching of Knowledge@Wharton and Wharton School Publishing. But, he told the Gazette, he was “most proud of the continued growth of the faculty, not only in terms of number but in terms of their intellectual strength and diversity.” That growth, coupled with the “ever-increasing energy and commitment of the alumni in the life of the school resulting from our aggressive outreach to the community, will be the key building blocks for the next chapter in Wharton’s history.”
A member of the Wharton faculty since 1984, Harker has deep Penn roots, having earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1981, and two years later adding a master’s in economics and a Ph.D. in civil engineering.
In a joint statement, Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Ron Daniels said that Harker had been an “outstanding leader for Wharton,” and called his departure a “great loss for Penn.” Harker’s “bold vision as dean—one he articulated eloquently and passionately—was to secure Wharton’s place as the dominant producer of business knowledge and education in the world,” they said. In addition to his strong commitment to the school’s international mission, they lauded his skills as a “gifted and indefatigable fundraiser” who led Wharton to complete the largest fundraising campaign in its history.
The key challenge facing his successor, Harker noted, is shared by “all business schools worldwide: namely, the attraction and retention of faculty.
“Business education is booming all around the world,” he added, “and there are simply not enough faculty to fuel this growth. Making sure that we retain the best faculty, as well as recruit the next generation of scholars, will clearly be the biggest challenge facing the school in the years to come.”
Asked if he had any overall thoughts about leaving Penn, he replied:
“Honestly, my head is swimming with thoughts as I prepare to leave Penn after almost 30 years as a student and faculty member. I am very proud of this institution and look forward to helping it continue to prosper by being actively involved on the ‘other side’ as an alumnus!” —S.H