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Widener and Oskin Leadership Institute Honors Chairman and Founder of Metro Bank, London

Undergraduate student Emily Wright (left) presents Metro Bank, London Chairman and Founder Vernon W. Hill II with the Widener Bugle.

Widener University and the Oskin Leadership Institute last night honored special guest Vernon W. Hill II, chairman and founder of Metro Bank, Britain’s first new High Street bank in more than 100 years. The evening celebrated the institute’s mission to inspire students to be strategic leaders and responsible citizens who possess the character, courage, and competencies to affect positive change throughout the world.

With 100 business and civic leaders from the Greater Philadelphia area in attendance, Widener President Julie E. Wollman, and the Oskin Leadership Institute held a dinner and intimate discussion with Hill about life lessons and leadership, led by Widener Trustee Brian Tierney.

Hill said his first foray into banking, Commerce Bank, was built on a service and convenience model, which is the same model being used in Metro Bank with great success. Fan-friendly service such as weekend hours, offering free pens instead of chaining them to the counter, and catering to customers’ pets, helped drive growth and build customer loyalty previously unheard of in the banking industry.

“Great companies, great businesses, whether they’re profit or non-profit, learn how to build fans,” Hill explained. “Fans are customers who enjoy your brand, they remain loyal and they bring their friends. There is no such thing as a growth business that doesn’t build fans.”

After selling Commerce Bank, Hill set his sights on London, which had gone more than a century without a new bank. He faced a chorus of critics that predicted failure.

Widener Trustees Brian Tierney talks with Vernon Hill“Everything we did in America worked better in London and we're growing at roughly five times the rate we did here,” Hill said. “It’s a great example of a model being transported across the world.”

Currently in its sixth year of business, Hill has grown Metro Bank to $9 billion in assets with 40 stores and 2,000 team members. Often credited with reinventing American banking, Hill founded Commerce Bank in 1973. Beyond his contributions to the banking industry, Hill is a strategic leader and generous philanthropist.

“From his outstanding leadership to his numerous charitable endeavors, Hill represents the values Widener University has honored since its founding in 1821,” Wollman said. “Mr. Hill’s achievements challenge our students to develop the courage, character, and core competencies needed to be effective leaders in the 21st century.”

Following the discussion, Emily Wright, a senior accounting major from Woodlyn, Pa. who earned a leadership certificate from the Oskin Leadership Institute, presented Hill with the Widener Bugle on behalf of the institute for his answer to the call of leadership. A centerpiece in American military history, the bugle’s various calls kept troops informed over vast distances prior to radio technology, which is why a bugle is presented to the honored guests of the Voices of Leadership each year.

For more information about the Voices of Leadership Dinner, please visit Widener University’s website.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development, and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive, doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. are proud to be tobacco-free. Visit the university website at