College of Business Dean Georgette Chapman Phillips Announces Retirement

Phillips’s tenure was marked by a decade of numerous advancements that have cemented Lehigh Business as a leader in business education.

Story by

Carina Sitkus

Photography by

Christa Neu

Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business, has announced her retirement on June 30, 2024, after serving two five-year appointments as dean.

Georgette Chapman Phillips

Her work over the past decade saw enhancements to all areas of the undergraduate and graduate business curricula; the establishment of co-curricular partnerships and collaborative entrepreneurship programs; new undergraduate and graduate academic programs, including an undergraduate major in business analytics and minors in fintech and international business, dynamic full-time and flex MBA programs, management and business analytics master’s programs, and a joint MBA/MPH with Lehigh’s College of Health; robust research activity; the creation of a thriving executive education program; and tremendous overall growth and increased visibility and stature for the college, brought to life visibly this spring through the opening of the Business Innovation building.

"It's been a privilege to work with Georgette and see the transformative leadership she has brought to the College of Business,” said President Joseph J. Helble ’82. “The expansion of the faculty and the development of new facilities that have occurred in concert with her focus on excellence and her commitment to building deeper focus at the intersection of business and technology have positioned Lehigh Business extraordinarily well for the decades to come."

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Nathan Urban said: “Georgette’s leadership has transformed Lehigh’s business college and she leaves it in a very strong position to continue its upward trajectory. Her decision to focus on the intersection of business and technology is clearly the right one for the college, the university and Lehigh’s students. Her success in bringing the Business Innovation Building to reality through a pandemic is a testament to her vision and dedication. The BIB is the most philanthropically supported academic building in Lehigh’s history and this was only possible because of Georgette’s focus on telling the story of the success of the college and our alumni and making the case for the bright future of the college.”

Beam signing at the Business Innovation Building

Phillips spoke of her pride in the transformation of Lehigh Business becoming a “world-class business school” and the “complete transformation of the College of Business down to its name.” Such evolution required shifts to, as Phillips noted, becoming “a major research engine,” enhancing the undergraduate, graduate and executive education curricula, and building a strong team by supporting and retaining talented faculty committed to research, teaching, and service.

"Georgette's 10-year deanship has been truly transformative for the College of Business,” said Paul Brockman, senior associate dean and Perella Chair of Finance at Lehigh Business. “She has recruited a world-class faculty, developed new graduate programs, launched the Vistex Institute for Executive Education, revised the undergraduate curriculum, and raised the funds to build our new Business Innovation Building. Her leadership has been indispensable in moving the College onto this positive trajectory. And at a personal level, Georgette has been a pleasure to work with over these transformative years."

During Phillips’ tenure, the number of business faculty grew from 79 to 97. She enhanced pathways toward faculty tenure and emphasized the importance of faculty retention within the college.

She created a professional undergraduate advising program within the business school to meet the dynamic needs and goals of business students. In collaboration with the Baker Institute, she created Lehigh Ventures Lab, the first startup accelerator for pre-seed and seed-stage enterprises on the Lehigh campus.

Phillips initiated a partnership with the national LEAD program, a program focused on supporting high-potential youth of diverse backgrounds and building an inclusive pipeline to ensure leadership roles in the global economy. This summer, Lehigh Business began offering scholarships for underrepresented students from the Lehigh Valley to participate in programs offered through Lehigh’s Iacocca Institute. Lehigh Business has been recognized by Insight Into Diversity Magazine for its Masters in Management scholarship program in collaboration with Xavier University of Louisiana.

Chapman speaking at the opening of the Business Innovation Building

Phillips described inheriting a strong foundation on which to build. Using her real estate vernacular, “the house [had] good bones,” she said, reflecting on her start at Lehigh in 2014.

“I’m really proud of the fact that we have continuous improvement. We are not idle.”

Phillips instituted a formal review of each business department every five years, comprising internal and external reviews that have created a culture of improvement and growth and identified opportunities, from refinements to curricula to new approaches. The creation of a new Decision and Technology Analytics department stemmed from one such review.

She also created programs to support a culture of “big thinkers” through such initiatives as hosting Impact Symposia on current topics and sponsoring the annual Year of Learning where one theme is woven throughout all business school classes. She also focused on cultivating positive Lehigh connections for students, faculty and staff, including creating an annual faculty research symposium, an annual New Faculty dinner, hosting “donuts with the dean” on the first day of the fall and spring semesters, staff town halls and a “Senior Salute” each April for seniors as they become Lehigh’s newest alumni.

Before Lehigh, Phillips served 22 years as a faculty member and an administrator at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the vice dean and Director of the Wharton Undergraduate Division, the David B. Ford Professor of Real Estate, and legal studies at Wharton, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a professor of Africana Studies in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences.

At Lehigh, she is a professor in both the Perella Department of Finance in the College of Business and in the Africana Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Phillips is an internationally recognized scholar who has garnered many honors and teaching awards. Her research and teaching is focused on the intersection of law, economics and public policy within the context of the built/man-made environment. Phillips is published in the areas of urban and regional planning, local government law, real estate and housing.

She is a member of the EFMD Global Americas Advisory Board, was chosen as an Arthur Vining Davis Fellow and presenter at the Aspen Ideas Festival Fellow, and is a Weimer School Fellow of Homer Hoyt Institute for Real Estate.

Phillips holds a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College, where she holds trustee emeritus status.

Story by

Carina Sitkus

Photography by

Christa Neu