Wharton San Francisco begins constructing new Bay Area facility


The facility will be fully connected to classrooms in Philadelphia to facilitate collaboration between students




In the future, Wharton Executive MBA students may be learning from 2,878 miles away.

The 10th anniversary of Wharton San Francisco will move the Executive Education Wharton program in California to a new space in the Bay Area. The new facility in the Hills Brothers plaza, which began construction recently, will be connected to Philadelphia’s campus with the latest technologies, Wharton San Francisco Vice Dean Doug Collom said.

“There are big changes going on here,” he said. “The new building is going to be completely wired [and there is going to be] a lot more connectivity between the buildings.”

Students in Philadelphia will be able to interact with those in San Francisco, and collaborate on everything from study groups to classes.

This winter, 1970 College graduate and former President and Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Charles Schwab Foundation David Pottruck will pilot a new type of Wharton class. First, he will teach to a class of 15 San Francisco students while his course is electronically connected to 15 other Wharton students in Philadelphia. Next, he will travel to Philadelphia and present to the same 30 students from Penn’s campus.

According to Collom, the new system will be modeled to replicate the classroom environment virtually, with a combination of video conferencing, electronic white boards and other tools.

Connecting the two campuses is important because the two represent different business environments, Wharton San Francisco Initial Vice Dean Len Lodish said.

“In terms of West Coast versus the East Coast, they’re different industries that are more representative” of different businesses, Lodish said.

For Collom, the East Coast program draws students from Wall Street, while a San Francisco student is often involved in entrepreneurial work.

Wharton San Francisco’s location near Silicon Valley makes it unique because it connects students to more entrepreneurial resources, such as capital investors and infrastructure for startups.

Since Executive MBA programs generally attract students who are in their 30s with around 10 to 12 years of management experience, the professor isn’t the only one teaching, according to Collom and Lodish.

“[Professors] are learning along with their students,” Lodish said.

“Regional differences in the way students think about business and career advancement” also contribute to different learning environments, Collom added.

In the future, Collom said, Wharton San Francisco hopes to be a link to new Wharton facilities in Beijing and possibly India as well.

Wharton Dean Tom Robertson has a “strategic vision” for Wharton which includes connections with Philadelphia and other research institutions, Collom said.

“There’s a real strategic shift that’s going to place increasingly more emphasis on [Wharton] San Francisco,” he added.

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