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There are over one hundred business schools in the United States. Each one ranked based on a number of factors, such as employment, salary, disciplines and alumni. Yet, another factor to consider is the history of the school. The reason why the school was formed should inspire a candidate, as the benefactor reached his goals and made strides in the business world. Names of great businessmen adorn the facades of business schools at universities across the United States, such as John L. Kellogg (Kellogg School of Management) and Walter A. Haas, Sr. (Haas School of Business). The business school with the richest history is the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Wharton School of Business was established in 1881, which makes it the oldest business school in the United States. The school changed the philosophy of teaching business as a trade to a profession. It’s founder, Joseph Wharton, was a pioneer in the zinc and nickel metal industries in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s. He used his business acumen to co-found the Pennsylvania and Lehigh Zinc Company (later the Bethlehem Steel Company), which was the first successful producer of zinc metal. He also funded the Gap Mine in Lancaster (PA). Wharton believed that businessmen should be “pillars of society” and are obligated to “advance society as a whole, creating new wealth and economic opportunity for all people.” Thus, he founded the Wharton School of Business. As the school grew in size, so did the business disciplines, including business law, finance, insurance and marketing. It is known for many “firsts,” such as a business school research center (Industrial Research Unit), a custom executive program (Securities Industry Institute), an MBA program in Health Care Management and the LEAD program. And there are PhD programs for each business discipline!

As part of his mission to create opportunities for all, he also founded Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania and the Wharton Fellowship (the first of many fellowships), in which W.E.B. DuBois was a recipient in 1896. W.E.B. DuBois went on to co-found the NAACP. Other notable alumni include Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Ruth Porat and Ben Lerer. Those who attend Wharton appreciate the school’s history and legacy, including the mission of giving back to the community. When it comes to researching business schools, the school’s history should be included in your criteria.