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For a man who has been known to lead great elk into stampedes in the Grand Tetons, leading the Wharton School may at last provide Dean Thomas Gerrity with a challenge. Jim Champe, a longtime friend of Gerrity's and the chairman of the consulting firm, Index Group, said Gerrity has always "enjoyed physical challenges." Champe said Gerrity's adventurous side led him to the Grand Tetons. Gerrity, Champe said, ignored warnings and decided to approach a herd of elk. "We caused a stampede," Champe said. He explained that Gerrity was also "a good wrestler as an undergraduate," at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has run the Boston Marathon several times. Gerrity also excelled in academics at MIT. Upon receiving his degree in electrical engineering, Gerrity was named a Rhodes Scholar and matriculated at Oxford University. Champe said he also thought Gerrity found little to challenge him at the British university -- so little that his skiing improved greatly in his years there, Champe said. Gerrity took the helm of the school in September, replacing former dean Russell Palmer, who many in the school thought had brought it new levels of prestige. Mickey Tarnepol, a Wharton alumnus who participated in the search for the new dean, said the committee was impressed and excited with the selection of Gerrity. Tarnepol said they found him "nothing short of fabulous," and expected him to "bring a tremendous insight into the needs of all the constituencies. "An awful lot of the infrastructure which had been started by Dean Palmer," would be built upon by Gerrity, Tarnepol said. "In terms of managing them and working with them, [that] will be done by Tom Gerrity." Gerrity said he was also excited by the appointment and the new challenges the deanship will bring. "I'd like to see us develop similar levels of strength in fields that are integrative and problem-directed, like entrepreneurship," Gerrity said. Champe said that he thought the new dean would bring a "humanist" approach to the school. "I think he is dedicated and will build renaissance people," Tarnepol added. "People who are going to be able to face the problems and opportunities" they will face. Gerrity came to the school via the information consulting firm Index Group, which he started and ran for several years. But Gerrity said that every fall he "felt the stirrings of coming [back] to the university. "I always planned a return [to academia] at some point," Gerrity said. "It couldn't be a more exciting time to be in management right now." Gerrity displayed an almost child-like giddiness as he talked about the future of his field. "I just salivate at the possibility of doing teaching and research," he explained, hoping to return to the classroom in as soon as three years. Gerrity's field of study in the past has included the interaction of organizational behavior and information and cognitive psychology. Apparently, others have been drawn to this excitement which Gerrity shows. Tarnepol recalled receiving a letter from an alum who found Gerrity's "dynamism infectious" at a recent alumni reception with the dean. Gerrity said that he just wants to get to work at being dean. "In terms of style, I like the word partnership," he said. "Its overused, but its healthy. Partnership amongst alumni, the school, and its students."

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