As Vice Dean for Wharton External Affairs since 2010, Sam Lundquist has guided the School’s engagement with alumni around the world and led Wharton through record-breaking years of fundraising. This is Sam’s third campaign at Penn; here, he reflects on the significance of More Than Ever and how it will shape Wharton’s future.
Q: The More Than Ever campaign has a goal of $1 billion. Wharton is more than 80 percent of the way there with well over a year left in the campaign. What do you attribute this success to?
A: The success of the campaign is a result of well-articulated strategic priorities for the School that resonate with people. Those priorities are more ambitious and on a larger scale than anything we’ve aimed for in previous campaigns. People are excited about it.
When you look at the future of finance, analytics, and entrepreneurship, they all fit together in a way that is very elegant. For example, entrepreneurship: the focus is not just to help students start businesses, but to grow businesses. What do you need to grow? You need capital — future of finance. And you need data — analytics. People hear that and say, “Yes! That makes sense.” I think that helps our message stand out.
Q: In light of the campaign’s success and these impressive fundraising numbers, why should people still consider supporting the school?
A: Because we’re a business school, I’ll use a business metaphor — when organizations stop growing, they fail. New variables will always enter into the picture. Take a look at artificial intelligence (AI). The School is now engaging with the faculty to determine what should a business school be thinking about and doing in this area. How do we fit AI into the structure of the School? And of course, how do we pay for it? So, exceeding the campaign goal will enable Wharton to continue to thrive, to do the things that we didn’t even know we wanted to do or could do three years ago.
Q: Who are the people giving to Wharton during this campaign? What motivates them to support Wharton right now?
A: The people who are giving to Wharton are facilitators and catalysts — they are at the vanguard of the areas that we’re focusing on in this campaign. The fact that they are doing these things at a very high level is important because they understand the outcomes. And these are meaningful outcomes, not superficial brand affinities.
Our donors believe in what we’re doing because they believe in the outcome. That motivates them to be generous. Generally speaking, the role of economics and commerce in achieving a productive and stable society is not fully acknowledged. But we are creating graduates who go out into the world and help economies grow. They create jobs, they innovate within their different industries. That makes a better and stronger world.
Q: You’ve been connected to Wharton and Penn for more than 30 years. What keeps you fresh every day and what gives you the energy to keep doing your job?
A: The breadth and the range of what we do is inexhaustible. But I’ve never experienced burnout because I never feel like I have done the same thing over and over again. Every year brings change; every single person is different and unique.
Q: We’ve been asking people at Wharton to share their More Than Ever Moments. What is yours?
A: Every time I get off of an airplane at a domestic or an international destination, the warmth of the welcome that I receive personally and professionally is a constant reminder of how important and relevant the Wharton brand is around the world. It provides a great deal of enrichment in my life and my career.