Dr. Wharton’s 22‐year philanthropic career began in Latin America with Nelson A. Rockefeller. Between 1958 and 1964 he lived and worked in Southeast Asia representing the Agricultural Development Council. During this period, he supervised the ADC’s programs in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and taught economics at the University of Malaya. His research ranged from the supply response of Southeast Asian perennial crops and international trade to the economics of subsistence agriculture and the impact of the Green Revolution. Dr. Wharton served as the chairman of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development U.S. AID (1976‐ 83), co‐Chairman of the Commission on Security and Economic Assistance, the Presidential Commission on World Hunger, and the Presidential Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. The son of a career Foreign Service Officer and Ambassador, Dr. Wharton has served six presidents in foreign policy advisory posts; most recently, in 1993, was appointed by President Clinton as Deputy Secretary of State, the second highest post in the U.S. Department of State.
Among his former corporate directorships are Ford Motor Company, Time Warner, Equitable Life, Tenneco, Inc., Federated Department Stores, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), New York Stock Exchange, Harcourt General, TIAA‐CREF, and Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. His extensive non‐profit trusteeships have ranged from the Council on Foreign Relations to the Committee for Economic Development (CED). Dr. Wharton is currently co‐chairman of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and is a trustee of the Clark Foundation and the Bassett Hospital (Cooperstown, NY).
A graduate of Boston Latin School, he holds a BA honors degree in History from Harvard, an MA from the School of Advanced International Studies of John Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. In 1983, he received the U.S. Presidential Award on World Hunger and in 1994 the American Council on Education Distinguished Service Award for Lifetime Achievement. He has been awarded 62 honorary doctorates. In 1982, Michigan State University honored Drs. Clifton and Dolores Wharton by naming their new Center for the Performing Arts for them, and in 1987 the State University of New York placed their names on its Economic Research Center at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, NY.
In 2015, Dr. Wharton published his autobiography, Privilege and Prejudice: The Life of a Black Pioneer, which “documents the challenges of competing in a society where obstacles, negative expectations, and stereotypical thinking remained stubbornly in place.”