In what school officials believe is the first program of its kind, the Wharton School is funding the $149,000 tuition for one MBA student who is a member of the LGBTQIA community and demonstrates leadership, the business school announced Monday.
The Prism Fellowship covers the full cost of tuition for Wharton’s two-year, full-time MBA program and was established by Jeffrey Schoenfeld, a 1984 Wharton grad and a partner at Brown Brothers Harriman investment firm.
Colan Wang, of Toronto, received the inaugural Prism Fellowship. He will join the Wharton MBA Class of 2022 this coming fall and is currently a business consultant at TD Wealth in Toronto.
“I’d like to major in business analytics,” said Wang, 26, who will be paying for his own housing.
The letters LGBTQIA refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual, or allied.
“I am so honored to be chosen for this. I’m pleased it’s being announced during Pride Month also, since this year we’re going to celebrate very differently."
Wang most recently helped organize TD Wealth’s first panel and networking event for lesbians, gays, and others and also worked in several community organizations in Toronto helping young people who identify as LGBTQ to join the workforce.
Other business schools work with outside organizations to fund scholarships. “We could not find another business school that has its own fellowship like this," said Caroline Pennartz, spokesperson for Wharton.
Schoenfeld joined Brown Brothers Harriman in 1984. He was named a partner at the firm in 1996 and held investment leadership roles during his 35-year career, including chief investment officer. He is on oversight committees including BBH’s diversity & inclusion efforts and is the founding sponsor for the firm’s LGBTQ affinity group, BBH Pride.
Schoenfeld is also the immediate past president of the UJA-Federation of New York and will soon be joining the board of directors of amfAR, a leading cure-focused HIV/AIDS research organization, according to his professional bio.
“If Wharton is going to compete for the best students, how do they differentiate from Harvard and Stanford? They want to be the place where students are embraced for their diversity,” said Schoenfeld, who received his bachelors in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in New York City with his partner.
Wharton, he said, “wanted to be the only business school in the country to make a fellowship available for a student in the LGBTQ space, and [the students] are granted a fellowship unknown to them because of their leadership. I loved the idea.” He agreed to be the donor.
“What’s most important is to offer a diverse environment. And Wharton is leading the pack,” he said.
Schoenfeld said he was openly gay at Wharton, “which was rare in 1982. And I have been out mostly throughout my entire Wall Street career. And in 1984, there was a period of 10 years where the rule was ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.' That’s slowly changed. But in a way I was back in the closet.” In 1996 he became a partner at Brown Brothers, which this year marks its 200th year.
“I do a lot of public speaking, and when I tell my story, I like to say that when I became a partner in 1996, I was the first ... Jewish partner! And one of the first [to be] gay. They got two for the price of one!”