Erika H. James

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Erika H. James
TitleDean of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Academic background
Alma mater

Erika H. James is an American academic and businesswoman. She is the dean of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is both the first woman and the first African-American to lead the business school.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Bermuda, James moved to the United States as a child. She lived in St. Louis, Missouri, as well as in Texas, where she graduated from high school.[2]

James' mother was an educator. Her stepfather was clinical psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, who influenced her choice to study psychology at Pomona College.[3] James earned her MA and PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan.[4]


James' research included work on workplace diversity and managing through a crisis.[5] During her graduate education, James took time away from school to work for American Express.[3]

James has said that she did not expect to work in academia after graduation, but was influenced by an academic advisor to pursue a university job.[3][5] Following graduation, James turned down a number of consulting offers to become an assistant professor at Tulane University's Freeman School of Business and a visiting professor at Harvard Business School.[3][4][6]

James was the president and owner of the Crisis Management Institute, which reported on business crises and provided crisis management training courses for firms and organizations.[7]

In 2001, James joined the faculty at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, where she also led the creation of the role of Associate Dean of Diversity.[8] She was promoted to Senior Associate Dean for Executive Education in 2012.[9] As Senior Associate Dean at Darden, James introduced the Women's Leadership Program.[4][6]

In 2014, James also was named the John H. Harland Dean of Emory University's Goizueta Business School. James was the first African-American woman to be named dean in Emory's history, as well as the first African-American woman to lead a top business school in the United States.[10][9] Under James, the Goizueta faculty grew by 25%.[6] That same year, James was included in the Ebony magazine Power 100 list of the "world's most inspiring African Americans."[11][12]

In 2019, James was awarded the Earl Hill Jr. Faculty Achievement and Diversity Leadership Award by the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.[11][13]

James was named dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in February 2020. Her term began on July 1 of the same year.[14][11]

James is known for her crisis leadership and workplace diversity research.[4]


  1. ^ Thomas, Patrick (2020-02-27). "Wharton Names First Female Dean". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  2. ^ Kimball, Ryder (Mar 3, 2020). "Inside the life and career of Erika James, the first woman and person of color to become dean of the Wharton School in its 139-year-old history". Business Insider. Retrieved Jan 19, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d Fontana, Francesca (Jan 16, 2021). "Who Taught Wharton's Business School Dean Some Important Life Lessons". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved Jan 16, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d James, Erika "Strategies for Effective Leadership in Crisis Situations" CFA Institute, July 21, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Gelles, David (Nov 20, 2020). "At Wharton, a New Leader Confronts the Culture Wars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved Jan 16, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Connley,Courtney "Meet Erika James, the first woman to be appointed dean of the Wharton School" CNBC, Feb. 27 2020.
  7. ^ O'Neal, Lydia (Nov 18, 2014). "James Named to Ebony 'Power 100'". The Emory Wheel. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  8. ^ Yuen, Gloria (July 24, 2020). "Introducing Dean Erika James". The Wharton School. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Guzman, Francisco; Ries, Brian (27 February 2020). "The prestigious Wharton business school's new dean will be first woman and person of color in its nearly 140-year history". CNN. Retrieved 2020-03-19.
  10. ^ "Emory University's Goizueta Business School". Faculty Profile. Emory University. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Sutton, Chase (July 2, 2020). "New Wharton Dean Erika James' first day begins with Good Morning America interview". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  12. ^ "Ebony 2014 Power 100". Ebony Magazine. 2014. Retrieved Jan 16, 2021.
  13. ^ "2019 Consortium Award Recipients Strive to Advance Equal Opportunity". The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management. Nov 17, 2019. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  14. ^ "Erika James Named Dean of the Wharton School". Wharton Newsroom. Feb 26, 2020. Retrieved Jan 16, 2021.