Minding Penn’s Business

April 2, 2019

by Karen Brooks

Christopher Bradie, W’92, G’04, GRD’12, was five years old when he attended his father’s college commence­ment ceremony. Captivated by the graduates marching in academic regalia as their families beamed with pride, he vowed right then that he too would go to college.

Christopher Bradie, W’92, G’04, GRD’12

“Being on this picturesque campus with all of these people on the happiest day of their lives is my earliest childhood memory. I got indoctri­nated in the importance of higher education,” says Bradie, who holds three degrees from Penn: a bachelor’s in economics from the Wharton School, a master’s in organizational dynamics from the School of Arts and Sciences, and a doctorate from Penn GSE, where he attended the Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management program. He began working for the University in 1994 and has served as associate vice president for business services since 2007.

During his undergraduate experience at Wharton, he spent two years as an intern with the Business Services Division. “It was en­lightening to see the administrative side of the University. I always felt that if more students knew what went on behind the scenes, they would be even prouder of the institution, observing all the care and energy that goes into running it every day,” he says. Bradie soon returned to Penn after graduation as a buyer for the Penn Bookstore. He gradually climbed to his current role, which involves ensuring twenty different departments and programs meet the needs of the campus community. These individual busi­ness units provide a wide range of services spanning retail, housing, dining, hotels, and parking.

“My role allows me to be a bit of an entrepreneur within Penn. I work with corporate partners to make sure the services we provide or that companies offer here match what faculty, staff, and students are looking for,” he explains. “Say Amazon or Uber or a bank wants to have a presence on campus—I work with other campus leaders to determine whether they are offering services that our community wants and then work to develop revenue-generating programs for the University.”

Bradie says his master’s curriculum at SAS helped him under­stand universities’ organizational culture, but his GSE program enriched his professional skills even more.

“Even though I had spent almost my entire working career in higher education, I didn’t understand how multifaceted it is,” says Bradie, whose dissertation examined how universities make out­sourcing decisions. “Working so closely with faculty members and conducting my own original research gave me a new appreciation for the audiences I serve. GSE taught me what it means to truly be a University citizen, and now I understand why and how faculty do what they do and how I can best support them.”

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of The Penn GSE Magazine.