10 Things We Learned at the Dean Garrett Town Hall

On November 30, 2015, Return on Equality and WGA hosted the first ever town hall event between Dean Geoffrey Garrett and the MBA student body. Approximately 100 students came this open forum to listen and ask questions covering everything from diversity to Follies to adjusting to the job. Here, 10 things we learned about our new dean.

He’s pretty good at his job.

Dean Garrett had a banner year fundraising. During his inaugural year, he secured the most donations in Wharton’s history—coming in second only to 1998, the year when the school received the $40 million gift from Jon M. Huntsman.

But still adjusting to being Dean 24/7.
“For 50 plus years of my life I’ve been Geoff Garrett. Now I’m no longer Geoff Garrett, I’m Dean Garrett.”

On the agenda—diversity.
“Every year I have to do a goals document for the President […] And I can tell you that diversifying the faculty and the student body has been my first goal.”

On why he took the job
“Well, the answer, which is not at all glib, to the why I took the job is I was offered the job. You know, I was the dean of a business school in Australia. I’m Australian. I loved that. I thought it was the best job for me in Australia. I’ve said many times, I’ll say again, for me this is the best job for me in the world.”

He immediately regretted that American Airlines tweet.
“The first reaction, which is just the heartfelt one, is I was just mortified,” he said. “In retrospect, the ‘back of the bus’ comment was just extraordinarily insensitive of me, and I wish I could retract it.”

If we had an endowment the size of Harvard’s…
“The first thing that I would do is increase the amount of scholarship support we give to MBA students”

He wasn’t a fan of Follies.
“I didn’t find it humorous. I would want us all to embrace, support, and promote a culture of inclusiveness, and I didn’t think that Wharton Follies did that, in particular because I thought it was outing individuals precisely because they didn’t conform, and that struck me as not a particularly appropriate thing to do.”

Likes: Informal Interaction
“I like informal interaction. I actually came to one of your Pubs last year and I actually loved what I saw, which was lots of large men in brightly colored tutus.”

Dislikes: Pub
He continued, “But it actually didn’t work so well for me in terms of getting to know anybody because it was so loud and so large that I didn’t think I was there. Maybe I have to readjust my sights and just being there is something I should do even if I’m not actually having meaningful interactions with students.”

His door is open; talk to him
“I’d say to everyone in the room, if you want to talk to me ever, about anything, just let me know, I can’t promise it will happen tomorrow but I promise it will happen.” Schedule a meeting with his Chief-of-Staff, Emily Cieri (gohne@).


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