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Alfred West, Jr. $10-Million Gift: Learning Lab

The Wharton School has announced the creation of the Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab with a $10-million gift from Alfred P. West, Jr., chairman and CEO of SEI Investments. The Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab will create a series of innovative learning tools that challenge students to think strategically across business functions and organizations.

"Al West's commitment will enable Wharton to take a lead role in rethinking the learning paradigm," said Dean Patrick T. Harker. "There is tremendous potential for us to reach a deeper understanding of how people learn and to push that process to a higher level using advancements in technology and learning science. Al has been a pioneer in creating the innovative corporate culture and new management models that have formed the foundation for the success of SEI Investments. Now, he'll lead in creating a new academic culture as we create new learning models."

The Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab will draw on the creative expertise of faculty leaders and professionals to innovate, study and experiment with learning throughout all of the School's degree and non-degree programs. "On a broader scale, the Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab's technology-enhanced materials and world-class research on learning will contribute to academia and industry worldwide," said Dean Harker. "Beyond the impact to Wharton and Penn, the outcomes of the Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab will be applicable to corporate and government training programs, as well as collegiate and secondary education."

The Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab will be co directed by Wharton's Andrew B. Abel, Robert Morris Professor of Banking, and Robert W. Holthausen, Nomura Securities Co. Professor. They will work closely with an external advisory board of thought leaders to develop new learning modules and assessment tools. Advisory board members include Mr. West, John Seely Brown, chief scientist of Xerox and founding member of 12 Entrepreneuring, Mike Zisman, vice president of emerging business development at IBM, Elizabeth Daley, dean of the School of Cinema/TV and executive director of the Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California, Hal Abelson, professor at M.I.T., Patrick Harker, dean of the Wharton School, and Wharton Professor Jerry Wind, director of the SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management.

When deployed in the curriculum, these interactive learning applications will add value to students' learning experiences by allowing them to participate fully in their own educational process, both within and outside of the classroom. The research and product creation that will result from the Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab will advance several strategic goals, including:

  • Strengthening Wharton's ability to fulfill its mission to innovate through curricular advancements and the exploitation of opportunities made possible by evolving technology;
  • Fostering a deeper understanding of how people learn throughout academia and industry;
  • Developing a new "learner-centric" management education paradigm, helping to ensure Wharton's leadership and commitment to excellence in today's competitive educational market;
  • Establishing new methodologies and metrics for testing the effectiveness in achieving learning objectives;
  • Creating products and knowledge that will be used throughout management worldwide; and
  • Continuing to promote bold experimentation in learning.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to help Wharton push the boundaries of business education as we know it," said Mr. West. "One of the School's greatest strengths is its intellectual leadership, and I am confident that the Learning Lab will set the standard for ground-breaking research on learning and for technology-enhanced education."

The gift directly supports the strategic priorities of the Wharton School's Campaign for Sustained Leadership, a $425-million fundraising initiative, and the Agenda for Excellence, which identifies key priorities for the University.

Mr. West founded Simulated Environments, Inc., the forerunner to SEI Investments, in 1968 while he was a Wharton MBA student. Today, with more than 1,700 employees worldwide, the Oaks, Pennsylvania-based SEI Investments (NASDAQ:SEIC), is a leading global provider of asset management and investment technology solutions. The company's innovative solutions help corporations, financial institutions, financial advisors, and affluent families create and manage wealth. SEI (as of June 30, 2001) processes over $1.5 trillion of investment transactions daily, administers more than $300 billion in mutual fund and pooled assets, manages almost $80 billion in assets and operates 25 offices in 11 countries.

In addition to his role with SEI Investments, Mr. West is chairman of Wharton's SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, from which the idea for the Learning Lab was developed. Mr. West also is a member of the School's Graduate Executive Board.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 4, September 18, 2001


September 18, 2001
Volume 48 Number 4

A $10 million gift to the Wharton School from alumnus Al West Jr. creates a Learning Lab.
The Penn community gathers to remember the thousands of victims of the terrorist attacks.
The Penn community reaches out to help the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and the Blood Drives.
Penn Police take extra precautions to secure the campus.
Counseling services for Penn faculty, staff and their families as well as group counseling through the EAP are provided free of charge.
Recovering from trauma, loss and disasters is complex, as explained in a booklet from CAPS. Emergency consultations are available.
The SAS Symposium on Responding to Terrorism includes the views of five Penn faculty members who discuss the various considerations of responding to the recent attacks.
A Penn student who expressed her views on WXPN shares them.
The 9th Annual Penn Family Day is set for October 20 with food, football, face painting and fun at the University Museum.