Wharton’s New Leadership Fellows Program Launched with $4M Alumni Gift

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The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has received a commitment of $4 million from alum William P. Lauder to endow the William P. Lauder Wharton Leadership Fellows Program.

Wharton Leadership Fellows are a community of second-year MBA students who mentor, coach, and support first-year students in developing their potential and strengthening their performance as learning teams.

Over the course of 15 months, the fellows receive intensive leadership development opportunities that first focus on enhancing their own abilities and then transition to hands-on experience building those skills in others. Fellows play a critical role in strengthening team dynamics, providing feedback, addressing conflict, and coaching individual growth and development.

Lauder is a member of the University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees, the Lauder Institute Board of Governors, the Wharton Leadership Advisory Board, and a lecturer in the Wharton School.

“I have always believed that great leaders are also great teachers, coaches, and mentors,” says Lauder, who serves as Executive Chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies.

“That’s what I expect of leaders at The Estée Lauder Companies, and what I hope to model for MBA students. I’ve been fortunate to have many extraordinary mentors in my career — my father Leonard A. Lauder, W’54, chief among them — and 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.”

This gift continues the Lauder family’s longstanding commitment to supporting education and the Penn community — from the Lauder Institute, to student fellowships, to numerous capital projects, including the recently completed New College House at 3335 Woodland Walk — and enriching the Penn experience for future generations of students.

“William Lauder’s contributions to the Penn community extend far beyond his generous financial support,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “William is an active presence on campus, sharing his time and insight with our students enrolled in his popular MBA course and providing exceptional advice and guidance to University leadership as a member of the Penn Board of Trustees. William’s investment in the Wharton community is a deeply personal one, and he has been an extraordinary asset to our students over the years as a teacher, mentor, and role model. I look forward to watching the William P. Lauder Wharton Leadership Fellows Program flourish under his stewardship.”

Income from the endowment will provide sustainable resources to select, train, and support the Wharton Leadership Fellows in their work with first-year MBA students. Lauder’s gift will also bring a new one-day leadership symposium to the William P. Lauder Wharton Leadership Fellows Program dedicated to exploring leadership principles in action.

“William embodies the core Wharton value of empowering leaders to change the world and we are deeply honored by his decision to endow the William P. Lauder Wharton Leadership Fellows Program,” said Wharton Dean Geoff Garrett. “The Leadership Fellows Program is a jewel in the Wharton MBA crown providing life-changing experiences for countless students. With William’s partnership, the program’s reach and impact will grow exponentially.”

Lauder is already known as an innovator among the Wharton faculty. The course he created and teaches, MGMT 892: Decision Making in the Leadership Chair, now in its sixth year, brings renowned business and civic leaders into the classroom each week to share lessons from their careers with second-year MBA students.

In 2014, Mr. Lauder was recognized by his fellow faculty members with the Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation Award for the by-application course, which consistently ranks among the school’s most popular electives.

“I have had the privilege of working with William for the past decade on various programs for senior leaders through our Executive Education partnership, and on his outstanding course, Decision Making in the Leadership Chair,” said Professor Michael Useem, director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management and the William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management at Wharton.

“William’s passion for teaching and love of learning are second to none, and his insight and experience as a leader of a global company make him the ideal sponsor for the Wharton Leadership Fellows Program. I am pleased to partner with him to continue building this signature program for future generations of leaders.”

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