Dr John Herman Wharton

Dr John Herman Wharton

Male 1890 - 1921  (30 years)

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  • Name John Herman Wharton 
    Prefix Dr 
    Born 1 Jul 1890 Saint Michaels, Talbot County, Maryland, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Census 1900 Saint Michaels, Talbot County, Maryland, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    At School 
    Age: 10 
    Grace Street 
    Died 2 Apr 1921 Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Cause: Shot (Murdered) 
    Syracuse University
    New York 
    Buried Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  – Address:
    Oakwood Cemetery
    Person ID I22219 Wharton One Name Study
    Last Modified 11 Feb 2018 

    Father John C Wharton,   b. c. 1861, Maryland, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother Susie S Fairbank,   b. c. 1864, Saint Michaels, Talbot County, Maryland, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F2194 Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • News
    John Herman Wharton - Western Daily Press (UK) 5 April 1921
    John Herman Wharton - Sacramento Union, Number 34 - 3 April 1921
  • Notes 
    • John Herman Wharton (1889-1921) was a Syracuse University graduate, professor, and administrator who quickly established himself as a spirited young figure with ambitious ideas and the intellect to successfully implement them. He founded Syracuse University?s College of Business Administration and, despite few resources and almost no promotion, oversaw its swift growth into one of the University?s most successful programs. His burgeoning career came to a tragic end, however, when he was murdered in his office by a troubled University faculty member.

      Before he was an influential member of the Syracuse University faculty, Wharton was an active member of the University?s student community. He enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and quickly involved himself in many school associations and activities, including serving as the business manager of the yearbook board, editing the first Syracuse Songbook, founding the Southern Club, participating in the Prohibition Club, serving on the Executive Committee of the English Club, and being elected class president. He received his undergraduate degree in 1911, and he continued his education at the University to earn a Master of Arts degree in 1913.

      Though his education was in the liberal arts, Wharton?s academic skills and intellectual pursuits were quite varied, which was reflected in the positions he held. His first entry into the field of education was as an instructor at Syracuse University?s College of Engineering. He later became a professor in both the College of Applied Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts. Within the College of Liberal Arts, he worked his way up to become the head of the English Department.

      In 1918, Wharton, who had made quite a name for himself, approached Chancellor Day with a proposal to create a new college for business administration. Though Day greatly respected Wharton, he was forced to deny the proposal due to lack of resources. Wharton later returned to make the proposal a second time, and Day turned him down a second time. Undeterred, Wharton returned once more, saying that the lack of resources would not be an issue, as he only needed a room and a desk. Day finally approved what would be termed something of an experiment, and entrusted Wharton, who would serve as the dean, to create something worthy of the University without the benefit of much University support.

      Day?s trust proved well founded, as Wharton?s newly formed College of Business Administration saw immediate success. In August of 1919, less than six weeks before classes started, the press made its first mention of the new college. Though there would be little more promotion in the weeks to come, 350 students enrolled in the College of Business Administration for its first semester. By the second semester, enrollment grew to 459. In a span of just six months, the college had become the University?s third most popular degree-conferring department by enrollment. This success was credited to Wharton and others approaching local professionals for consultations about the programs offered and assistance in securing needed materials. Soon there were 900 students attending the college, prompting Day to tell Wharton that they did not have the means to accommodate many more. With a proper building and endowment, Day commented, Wharton would have continued to expand the college he founded.

      Wharton, however, would not live to have the opportunity. On April 2, 1921, Wharton met with Holmes Beckwith, an instructor from the College of Business Administration, in his office. The two had met previously to discuss the University's request for Beckwith?s resignation at the end of the academic year. Wharton had offered to help Beckwith try to find a new position elsewhere but felt that he should not continue at Syracuse University, citing the improper way in which he conducted his classes. This was not the first institution to disapprove of Beckwith?s job performance. He had been fired from nine positions in the previous ten years. Upon entering Dean Wharton?s office, Beckwith shot and killed Wharton and himself. Letters found on Beckwith revealed the murder-suicide to be the action of a troubled and embittered man who felt perpetually wronged by the ?injustice and prejudice? of the world.

      At the time of Wharton?s death, the College of Business administration had grown to include a faculty of 30 people and offered four distinct programs. Faculty, students, friends, and prominent local figures who spoke in remembrance of Wharton described him as bright, dedicated, and kind.


  • Sources 
    1. [S192] 1900 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, (Name: Ancestry.com Operations Inc; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 2004;), ear: 1900; Census Place: St Michaels, Talbot, Maryland; Page: 4; Enumeration District: 0090.
      Name: Herman J Wharton
      Age: 10
      Birth Date: Jul 1889
      Birthplace: Maryland
      Home in 1900: St Michaels, Talbot, Maryland
      Street: Grace Street
      Sheet Number: 4
      Number of Dwelling in Order of Visitation: 73
      Family Number: 76
      Race: White
      Gender: Male
      Relation to Head of House: Son
      Marital Status: Single
      Father's name: John Wharton
      Father's Birthplace: Maryland
      Mother's name: Susie S Wharton
      Mother's Birthplace: Maryland
      Occupation: At School
      Attended School: 0
      Can Read: Yes
      Can Write: Yes
      Can Speak English: Yes

    2. [S166] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current, Ancestry.com, (Name: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 2012;).
      Name: John Herman Wharton
      Birth Date: 1 Jul 1890
      Birth Place: Saint Michaels, Talbot County, Maryland, United States of America
      Death Date: 2 Apr 1921
      Death Place: Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, United States of America
      Cemetery: Oakwood Cemetery
      Burial or Cremation Place: Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, United States of America
      Has Bio?: Y