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UD Lerner Dean Weber to depart after a decade

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Bruce Weber UD Lerner College

NEWARK – Bruce Weber, the dean of the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, will depart at the end of the academic year to take over a New York City business school.

Effective July 17, Weber will step down to become dean at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, a well-respected business school where he previously taught as a professor. A national search is underway for Weber’s replacement, but his departure will end a long and successful tenure in Newark.

“On behalf of the university, I want to congratulate Bruce on this exciting next step in his successful career,” UD President Dennis Assanis said in a statement. “Under his leadership, Lerner College has grown in size, reach and impact, with new initiatives and partnerships that will continue benefiting students for many years to come. I am certain that Bruce will bring the same commitment to excellence to his new role at Baruch College, and we wish him the best.”

Following a national search, Weber, who succeeded Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw as dean of the vaunted business program, arrived in 2011 from the London Business School in England. In 12 years at UD, he helped sustain the program’s Top 100 business school ranking, introduced a new doctoral degree and a respected online Master of Business Administration program, launched the Horn Entrepreneurship program that has grown several successful companies, and engaged industry to partner with the school, among other achievements.

Looking back, he told Delaware Business Times that his arrival here was a bit personal – then-UD President Patrick Harker had once been his professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School when he was pursuing his doctorate.

“The chance to be working under Pat Harker, who I really respected as a professor of mine, and I knew did a great job as the dean at the Wharton School, was a big draw,” he recalled, noting that he also was attracted to the school’s long history and strong academic record. “Knowing that there was a real appetite to see Lerner College grow and see its reputation rise was really appealing.”

In his 12 years at the helm of UD’s second largest program, Weber said he was most proud of the relationship it forged with JPMorgan Chase, the state’s largest for-profit employer, and their partnership on the Innovation Center. That facility in Purnell Hall sees dozens of student interns work with Chase employees on IT projects each year as one of the bank’s technology and operations resource hubs.

“To have a leading global bank operating an intern center in one of your buildings is a great sign of success for us,” he said.

Early in his tenure, Weber also worked with Chase and the university’s College of Engineering to create UD’s first cross-college doctoral program in “financial services analytics” supported by a $17 million institute funded by the bank. The move was controversial at the time, but ultimately received widespread faculty support and has grown into a success over the last decade.

He continued working with industry in 2016, when Lerner learned that the state’s top trust banks and law firms needed a stronger talent pipeline into their niche industry. In response, the college created an 18-credit minor, an industry advisory board and funding support to cover the expense of a faculty director. The minor is now a qualifying wealth management training program approved by the American Bankers Association, and sponsoring firms hire interns from the program.

Lerner College has become a dependable pipeline for talent to Wilmington’s banking sector, ranging from technology roles to macroeconomics to accounting to operations management, which also speaks to its success, Weber said.

“We have a good finance and accounting program and we teach IT and [management information system] at a pretty technical level, so I think that enables our students to be able to hit the ground running,” he said.

One of Weber’s other major accomplishments was working with alumnus Charlie Horn and director Dan Freeman to launch the Horn Entrepreneurship program in 2012 to engage young entrepreneurs.

“Unfortunately, we’re, as a state, a bit of a late-comer to the changes in the economy, because Delaware’s economy was kind of built up over the years on a number of very big companies,” Weber said. “Now, it’s really clear that Delaware’s economic future is not going to be driven by these behemoth firms. It’s going to be driven by small companies.”

Today, the Horn Entrepreneurship program features its largest classes ever and has already produced growing Delaware companies such as Carvertise, NERDiT Now, TheraV, TRIC Robotics and First Founders. The internet has also allowed new companies to scale faster than ever, proving that training is needed to keep startups afloat.

“I think they realize that’s a skill set that maybe wasn’t considered essential at places like DuPont or MBNA, but it really is important if you’re a small growing business,” Weber added. “I think the ability for a small company to grow into a global giant in such a short time frame today is a signal that we’re in a new economy. It’s not an age of incremental growth. We’re in this era of sort of exponential transformative growth.”

Over the last two decades, Lerner College has grown to become one of UD’s most respected and attended programs alongside engineering, nursing and physical therapy. In part, Weber credits that success with the ideology of the school.

“We think like businesspeople at Lerner College and we want our product to keep getting better,” he said.

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