Geoffrey Garrett
Geoffrey Garrett
Courtesy The University of Pennsylvania
These days, most top business schools seek to attract the best students from around the world. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School just took the logical next step, plucking its new dean from a distant time zone.

Geoffrey Garrett, currently dean at the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales, will take the helm of Wharton on July 1, according to a press release today. Garrett’s experience at the Sidney school, at the doorstep of such rising Asian business hubs as Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, seems to have made him an attractive candidate to replace Thomas Robertson, who’s seven-year term as Wharton dean ends in June.

Garrett, 56, has “a compelling vision for the role of business schools in an era of rapid change and globalization,” says Amy Gutman, president of the University of Pennsylvania, in a statement.

Australia’s relative isolation may also have given Garrett a head start in thinking about online education. “The direction we’re going is to put much more material online,” he told the Financial Times in an interview published in January, adding that online tools could improve the quality of management education. “Like other sectors, globalization and technological change are poised to transform business education,” Garrett says in a statement today.

Wharton, which offers its first-year MBA curriculum for free on Coursera, is arguably already ahead of other top U.S. business schools when it comes to online education. While most elite schools don’t offer online degrees, there’s reason to believe a coming wave of new online programs could overturn existing models in management education.

Robertson, Wharton’s outgoing dean, raised $607 million for the school, exceeding his fundraising goal, and increased the school’s faculty size by 10 percent, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Garrett has a Ph.D. from Duke University, where he wrote his doctorate on “government economic strategies,” and he has held teaching positions at the University of Oxford, Stanford University, and Yale University. He will be the 13th dean at Wharton, which was founded in 1881.

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