Wharton CEO: A Sustained Effort for Creating Change

Kenneth L. Shropshire, Wharton CEO’s faculty director and senior advisor to Wharton Dean Erika H. James
Kenneth L. Shropshire, newly appointed director of Wharton's Coalition for Equity and Opportunity.

Wharton’s newly convened Coalition for Equity and Opportunity (CEO) is set to become a go-to resource for identifying data-driven solutions to equity and opportunity issues, ranging from closing the wealth gap to defining workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) problems. By bringing together the academy and the business community under a broad umbrella, Wharton CEO will provide a formal gateway for redefining business education and leadership standards while making equity and opportunity foundational priorities for Wharton.

Kenneth L. Shropshire, Wharton CEO’s faculty director and senior advisor to Wharton Dean Erika H. James, has as his starting point a question raised by James: What should business schools and business education be doing to benefit people and communities?

“Dean James is seeing way beyond Wharton degree programs,” said Shropshire. “She is creating opportunities that will mobilize worldwide access to a Wharton education.”

Shropshire cited the Wharton Global Youth Program as an example of how the School is extending its reach. The Program offers pre-collegiate students seminars and summer courses that deliver the opportunity to explore business practices, analyze the world’s complex challenges, and take first steps in becoming leaders who will transform the global economy.

“The work the Global Youth Program does to advance financial literacy is delivering on the Dean’s promise of providing opportunity to populations that may have traditionally been left behind,” he said.

A large part of Wharton CEO’s mission, said Shropshire, is to provide companies with data-driven information that they may need to make decisions regarding equity and opportunity. Shropshire said over 100 faculty members have already completed some type of equity and opportunity research in topic areas that include online diversity training; student-loan forgiveness; and defining who benefits from equity and opportunity initiatives. “Wharton’s research is where this coalition will lead the way,” he said.

As a longtime Wharton faculty member in the Legal Studies and Business Ethic Department, Shropshire left the School in 2017 to become founder and CEO of the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University. He returned to Wharton in July to become the Dean’s senior advisor on CEO. Shropshire was inspired to return because of James’s “overriding concern with what business schools should be doing to deliver opportunity.”

Philanthropic partnerships are being sought to advance Wharton CEO, and Shropshire is deep in conversation with alumni and corporate donors who are interested in being “all in.”

Shropshire envisions CEO as a long-term pillar of the School where faculty, students, alumni, and corporate partners can participate. “I am excited to change business education, especially in the times we are in,” he said. “And as other schools develop similar initiatives, we will all be better off.”