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Credit: Zach Sheldon

William P. Lauder, executive chairman of Estee Lauder Companies, has donated $4 million to the Wharton Leadership Fellows Program.

The William P. Lauder Wharton Leadership Fellows is a 15-month long program that pairs Wharton MBA second-year students with first-year students to facilitate learning leadership qualities, using “practical tools and concrete strategies,” according to the website

The $4 million gift will assist in gathering resources for the second-year students in their mentorship of first-year students. It will also sponsor a new one-day leadership symposium for the program, which will focus on leadership qualities in action. 

“I have always believed that great leaders are also great teachers, coaches, and mentors,” Lauder said in a press release. “That’s what I expect of leaders at The Estée Lauder Companies, and what I hope to model for MBA students. I’ve been consistently impressed by the ways in which Wharton Leadership Fellows enhance and contribute to the learning culture at Wharton. I am thrilled to support this outstanding program’s continued growth and evolution.”

“The Leadership Fellows Program is a jewel in the Wharton MBA crown providing life-changing experiences for countless students,” Wharton Dean Geoff Garrett said of the program. “With William’s partnership, the program’s reach and impact will grow exponentially.”

Both Lauder and his father Leonard A. Lauder attended Wharton, graduating in 1954 and 1983 respectively. Lauder continues to be an active presence on campus, as a member of the Board of Trustees as well as a faculty member at Wharton. 

The course he created and teaches, MGMT 896: Decision Making in the Leadership Chair, is now in its sixth year and invites renowned leaders each week to talk to Wharton MBA second-year students about their experiences, according to the press release.

In 2014, he was awarded the Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation Award for the elective. 

“William’s investment in the Wharton community is a deeply personal one,” said university president Amy Gutmann. “I look forward to watching the William P. Lauder Wharton Leadership Fellows Program flourish under his stewardship.”

The Lauder family has a long history of donating to the university, including a $10 million endowment to Wharton in 1996 by Leonard Lauder, and a contribution to the development of New College House in 2013.