Professor Starts PLU MBA Program

By Natalie Robinson ’19


Dwight Zulauf, Founder of the Pacific Lutheran University MBA Program

In 1949, Dwight Zulauf, a Columbia University Alumni, stepped onto the Pacific Lutheran University campus as a professor. It was at this time that he came to a certain realization.

“There’s a job and there’s a calling and when what your doing is your job you’re going to be ok at it, but when what you are doing is your calling you’re going to fueled by a bigger passion and purpose to make an impact on something bigger than what you know.

That passion and purpose is what led Zulauf to become a founder of the Pacific Lutheran Masters of Business Administration program.

The Pacific Lutheran MBA program is built on the foundations of leadership, innovation, creativity, global awareness and ethnic responsibility. Afternoon and evening classes for an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation are taught by doctoral trained faculty. Pacific Lutheran provides a very successful program to business majors and non business majors alike looking for an AACSB accreditation. But as successful as it is now, this program was non existent in 1960.

Dwight Zulauf, now 89, was 21 years old when he graduated from ColumbiaUniversity in New York City with a masters in business.

“Part of the background of building a masters degree program,” said Zulauf, “came because I have been in a good one.”

Pacific Lutheran University brought in the school of business in 1960 but started teaching business when they established the University. Zulauf joined on the faculty at Pacific Lutheran in 1949 before leaving to go for a PHD. He then came back to co-found the School of business with Gunder King, a Stanford graduate.

Dave Robinson, a student of Zulauf’s and graduate of the MBA program at Pacific Lutheran University had only pride when speaking about Zulauf.

“My first class was accounting with Dwight Zulauf. It was a small class and he was a masterful instructor, best professor I ever had,” said Robinson. “Iknew Gunder Kind and both Gunder and Dwight were on my MBA Orals.”

Three months after announcing the program they had over three hundred applicants, more than they were anticipating and more than they could allow.

“There was a higher demand than we could meet the very first summer we offered it,” said Zulauf.

Zulauf saw an unmet demand in the area that inspired him to take action and create something that generally everyone could benefit from. Some of military at Fort Lewis and Joint Base Lewis McCord wanted this program, there was interest from students from Boeing and many more of the surrounding area. The idea of an evening MBA program appealed specifically to military personnel who could only attend evening courses due to their schedules during the day.

Zulauf also emphasized the importance of a professionally accredited school of business. There were certain states that would not allow PLU students in the school of business to go on further because it was not yet professionally accredited.

“Boeing wouldn’t interview our students because they were not professionally accredited like UW,” said Zulauf.

By developing a program that would provide profession accreditation through the AACSB it would provide students with greater opportunities to be recognized for their achievements as well as to give in professional aspects of their life and give through their calling.

Developing a program is exactly what Zulauf’s intentions were and are. He considers the project still underway. The program is not complete yet, not finished. Although successful, a foundation for this program was to be constantly developing and to continuously build.

“All the time. You start developing and build, build , and build,” said Zulauf. “You examine what things have to be changed and you do your best to change them for the good if they need changed.”

As big of a task as this may seem, a smile simply cracked at the corners of Zulauf’s mouth as he reminisced this achievement.

“I would give a lot of credit to the teachers in the program, there are a lot of dedicated teachers in the program who see this as more of a calling than a job,” said Zulauf. “If its more of a job for your paycheck that’s one thing, if you want to grow something and build something its got to be a calling.”

Although the pieces fell together, there were difficulties in the process. Working with other faculty members outside the school of business and keeping them informed that this project was not simply “swallowing dollars” was a huge hurdle for Zulauf. There was a lot of cooperation but also some jealousy as well within the faculty.

“But you got to be playing off the same music if you’re in the same band,” said Zulauf.

And thats what the Pacific Lutheran community has done. It allowed Zulauf and the MBA program to continue to grow, develop, challenge individuals and to be successful.

Categories: Other

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