Our History. Our Future.

During our centennial year, we invite you to discover Olin’s rich history on this website and our social media platforms. Peek into the past as we reminisce on campus life, hairstyles, hemlines, and technology through the decades. Look for stories on the people, research, initiatives, deans, and alumni that have shaped Olin’s history and are building our future. Be a part of the celebration by sharing your Olin memories and photos of teachers, classmates, and student life at #Olin100.

Our History. Our Future.

During our centennial year, we invite you to discover Olin’s rich history on this website and our social media platforms. Peek into the past as we reminisce on campus life, hairstyles, hemlines, and technology through the decades. Look for stories on the people, research, initiatives, deans, and alumni that have shaped Olin’s history and are building our future. Be a part of the celebration by sharing your Olin memories and photos of teachers, classmates, and student life at #Olin100.

Our History. Our Future.

During our centennial year, we invite you to discover Olin’s rich history on this website and our social media platforms. Peek into the past as we reminisce on campus life, hairstyles, hemlines, and technology through the decades. Look for stories on the people, research, initiatives, deans, and alumni that have shaped Olin’s history and are building our future. Be a part of the celebration by sharing your Olin memories and photos of teachers, classmates, and student life at #Olin100.

Celebrate our first century in business with photos and memories.

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100 years of impact

Over the past 100 years, Olin’s faculty has grown from three faculty members in 1917 to 73 tenure and tenure-track faculty members, 23 lecturers, and 41 adjunct faculty for the 2016-17 academic year.

The Deans of the 1950s

The 1950s saw the succession of three deans with ties to Tulane University—deans who turned the business school away from dwindling opportunities in public service to growing possibilities in the private sector. If the business school curriculum of the ‘40s was a reaction to the changing world following World War II, the business school of the ‘50s reflected an optimism in future growth.

“An old, old friend has finally passed away…If it weren’t for the trolley, it is doubtful if some of us would even be alumni today. In times past there were a variety of lines to campus…Today a growing number of students come to the campus by jet and ocean liner from all over the world. The days of the ‘streetcar college’ are gone.”

Frank O'Brien, A.B. '42

Editor of the Washington University Magazine, February 1963

A Look Back: Dorm rooms over the years

These photographs from University Archives offer a glimpse into dorm rooms of students in decades past. And while these images span more than nine decades, many similarities remain evident.

Olin closely collaborates with more than 250 corporations, startups, and nonprofits across the globe, connecting these organizations with Olin resources for talent development and acquisition, classroom and business-world interaction, and business-relevant knowledge creation.

The Deans of the 1940s and World War II

Following a period of significant change during Dean Isador Loeb’s long tenure, the 1940s were dominated by World War II and its aftermath as GIs returned home and life was supposed to return to ‘normal’.

“The tenseness and anger of the late 1960’s is gone. As a recent graduate wrote, ‘It is no longer counter-revolutionary to say hello to an administrator.’ Students have rediscovered the joy of learning and going to college.”

William H Danforth

in his first major speech since becoming Chancellor, Founders Day speech, Feb. 22, 1971

The Roaring ‘20s: New name and focus for Olin

As the first World War was nearing its end, Washington University was introducing a business school: the School of Commerce and Finance. The 1920s were a pivotal time for the fledgling school, and the deans leading the school during this era influenced the direction and focus of the business school for years to come.

1920

The school’s first graduating class of 10 students—9 men and 1 woman—earned their degrees in 1920. A century later, Olin graduated 652 students in the 2015– 16 academic year.

William Gephart

One hundred years ago, the very idea of a business school was not a high priority for most academic institutions. But an economics professor named William F. Gephart believed there was a good reason to legitimize the study of finance and commerce, and it became his mission to open a business school at WashU.

“The Business Task Force, from 1979-1981, was, I believe, the single most important event in our school’s history. The Task Force led us to understand what would be required to have a top-notch business school. Its far-sighted recommendations charted Olin’s course into the 1990’s.”

Robert Virgil

Dean Emeritus, 1977–1993

John M. Olin: A man of business

John M. Olin was a leader among this nation’s entrepreneurs, scientists, conservationists, and philanthropists. His life, his work, his compassion, and his generosity touched the lives of thousands.

“If a business school were a hit record on the Billboard charts, the John M. Olin School of Business would arrive there with a bullet … Like Duke University only a few years ago, it stands ready to break into the top ranks of the nation’s best business schools.”

Business Week’s Guide to the Best Business Schools

1989

A brief history of Washington University’s Bear

The history of the Washington University mascot, the bear, is colorful in its own right, and intertwined with that of its home institution. Since the bear’s beginnings, University athletic teams, fraternities, and administration have all had a hand in shaping its appearance and function.

1953

The business school was a founding member of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) in 1953 along with Harvard, Chicago, Northwestern, and Wharton. GMAC is probably best known for the GMAT exam, which was first administered a year later in 1954 and is the premier standardized test specifically designed for graduate business and management programs.

Century Club connects alumni, CEOs, and community

For more than three decades, the Century Club speaker series has brought business leaders to the school to share their insights and knowledge with the Olin community.

“Culture is not something you can measure or display in a graph, but we know it is extremely important. We strive to create a community where collaboration, diversity, and innovation are truly part of our daily interactions in and outside the classroom.”

Dean Emeritus Mahendra Gupta, 2014

Gary Hochberg: Undergraduate Dean for a quarter of a century

Gary Hochberg’s mild manner, friendly welcome, and sincere interest in each and every one of his students is legendary at Olin. The growth of the undergraduate program is largely credited to his 25-year tenure as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs.

The business school has occupied six buildings in its 100-year history, including Duncker Hall, Prince Hall, Simon Hall, the Charles F. Knight Executive Education and Conference Center, Knight Hall, and Bauer Hall. Currently, the school spans four buildings—Simon Hall, the Knight Center, Knight Hall, and Bauer Hall.

BBQ turns into an Olin Tradition

Not long after he became dean in 1995, Stuart Greenbaum decided to host a barbecue for the entire Olin community during the first week of classes, launching a more than 20-year community tradition that grows in size each year.

“What strides have been made in the interval!”

Margaret Hasse Calhoun

in 1985, on the change at WashU and Olin since her graduation in 1920

Duncker Hall: Olin's first home

William Gephart found a generous donor for the building in the family of Charles H. Duncker, Jr. who had graduated from WashU in 1914. His younger brother, Henry, was the first (and only) graduate of the School of Commerce and Finance in 1919.

“Virgil, you will never be a first-tier business school operating out of Prince Hall. You won’t be able to attract outstanding faculty and students if you stay in this converted dormitory.”

Charles F. Knight

chair of the Business Task Force, speaking to Dean Bob Virgil in 1979 about expanding the school’s facilities.

John E. Simon: A generosity of spirit

John E. Simon was a St. Louis investor, philanthropist, and General Partner of what is believed to have been the third oldest New York Stock Exchange member firm and the oldest continuous member firm west of the Mississippi River.

1995

Stuart Greenbaum becomes dean of Olin Business School.

Business school named for John M. Olin

In 1988 William E. Simon, president of the John M. Olin Foundation, and Chancellor William H. Danforth announced a grant of $15 million from the foundation to Washington University to name the John M. Olin School of Business. At the time, it was the largest grant ever made by the John M. Olin Foundation, and honors the memory of a famous business leader and philanthropist, John Merrill Olin.

“Through these portals will pass the men and women who, because of their time here, will be well prepared with the skills, values, and entrepreneurship to meet the future.”

George Bauer

Olin Business Magazine, 2014

Margaret Haase: The business school’s “first lady”

In 1918, when Margaret Haase entered the Business School, the United States was just beginning its career as a world power, women could not vote, and Prohibition was just around the corner. In 1920, she became the business school’s first female graduate.

Until the mid-20th century, the business school was considered a “streetcar” school attracting students primarily from the St. Louis region. Today, Olin Business School is a multinational community of faculty, students, and alumni who teach and learn on several campuses around the world, including China, India, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, and throughout Europe, among others.

1961: Olin moves to Prince Hall

We remember the now-demolished Prince Hall, named after Frank J. Prince, where Olin Business School moved after a post-World War II enrollment boom forced the school to move out of Duncker Hall.

“Tradition is now being made and passed down to the future classes [at The School of Business and Public Administration]. The students are beginning to feel the importance of their calling and the necessity for their mastering the principles of economics in order to be able to compete in the battle of competition.”

The Hatchett

Washington University yearbook, 1929

The Consortium: Opening doors for 50 years

In the mid 1960s, when civil rights protests were growing and calls for radical social change permeated all walks of life, Olin Professor Sterling H. Schoen wanted to open the doors to business education and corporate career tracks for underrepresented minorities.

1917

The school was founded in 1917 as the School of Commerce and Finance and was among the early entrants into the business school market in the United States. At its inception, the school offered a single degree in undergraduate business.