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.

As we build for the future, we rely on your support to help fulfill Olin’s mission — to create knowledge, inspire individuals, and transform business.

Give today
100 years of impact

“It’s like the Chinese proverb: ‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.’ Well, fill a student with facts and the facts may drift away. Empower a student to be a good thinker and you profoundly change his or her personal and professional development.” —Quoted from 2008 Olin Business Magazine

Ronald King

Senior associate dean and Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting

1992: MBAs pitch selfie baseball cards and score jobs

In 1992, the job market was tight and first-year MBAs were scrambling to line up summer internships. Rising to meet the challenge, Olin’s Marketing Club developed a clever marketing strategy to stand out from the stacks of résumés.

Olin was one of the first business schools to have an experiential learning center and entrepreneurial business plan course. The Center for Experiential Learning’s Practicum consulting projects with businesses—both in the St. Louis area and globally—provide students with vital hands-on learning and experience.

Stuart Greenbaum: A decade of world-class leadership

During Stuart Greenbaum’s decade as dean, Olin Business School transformed from a regional provider of management programs to an internationally recognized leader in management education.

Olin Business School Dean's Medal

Sunita Garg and Mahendra R. Gupta, PhD, Former Dean of the Olin Business School and Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management, received the Dean’s Medal in 2017. The Dean’s Medal is awarded to special friends whose dedication and service to Olin Business School have been exceptional.

Robert L. Virgil, the pied piper of the business school

The tenure of Dean Emeritus Bob Virgil, who was referred to as the pied piper of the business school “for his ability to rally friends and colleagues and students together,” was marked by the construction of Simon Hall, the naming of the school for John M. Olin, and an endowment surge, among many other accomplishments.

“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

From Bonne Terre, MO to Washington University in St. Louis

Howard Wood received a scholarship from a man in his small hometown of Bonne Terre, MO to attend Washington University in St. Louis in 1957. Wood shares his story of coming from a small, rural town to the big city where he found nothing but opportunity.

1966

The business school was one of the founders of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, a unique alliance of top-tier business schools and corporate partners dedicated to increasing the ranks of underrepresented minorities in business education and corporate leadership.

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.

1995

Stuart Greenbaum becomes dean of Olin Business School.

Howard Wood


A risk-taking accountant may sound like an oxymoron, but Howard Wood’s second career as a pioneer in the fledgling cable business and communications startups has been extremely successful. He reflects on his career and connections to Olin Business School.

“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

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.

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.

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.

Teresa Teodori, BSBA '09

Studying abroad in London made a lasting impression on Teresa Teodori, BSBA ’09. She joins other Olin Business School alumni in sharing memories and wishes in honor of the school’s Centennial.

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’.

“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

Remembering John E. Simon

Dean Emeritus Bob Virgil shares some memories of a great benefactor and supporter of Olin Business School, John Simon, for whom Simon Hall is named.

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.

1991

Since the CEL began in 1991, 8,038 students have worked with 985 clients on 1,248 projects and created 441,325 hours of impact.

The Gupta Years: Growth and expansion

For more than a quarter century, Mahendra Gupta has served Washington University and Olin Business School in many roles including faculty member, researcher, administrator, mentor, and, most recently, dean.

“To have the names of individuals who have made historic contributions to American business associated with our leading business schools honors both the individual and the institution. John M. Olin was this kind of person. Strong-willed, firm and with vision, he enormously expanded the enterprise his father created. His active interest as a trustee in the governance and welfare of Washington University made our University better. He was very fond of Washington University, and he understood what makes a great university work.”

W. L. Hadley Griffin

chairman of Washington University’s Board of Trustees and chairman of the executive committee of Brown Group, Inc., in 1988

Stuart Greenbaum foresees disruption in business education

Stuart Greenbaum served as Dean of Olin Business School from 1995-2005. In this interview on the occasion of Olin’s Centennial, he discusses the school’s strengths and why business schools need to change to survive.

“I believe revitalizing the free enterprise system is the only way to save the country. Higher education may be a critic of the system, but must not condemn it and, in my opinion, should assist in attaining the objective of revitalizing the free enterprise system which has made this country what it is. When we entered the era of public ownership, we did not also enter a strong program of public education.”

John M. Olin

In 1987, the John M. Olin Foundation presented the school with a $15 million challenge grant to be matched by private donors. In recognition, the school was renamed for John M. Olin, an industrialist and university trustee.

1968: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Karl A. Hill became the dean of Washington University’s business school in a year best remembered for sit-ins, Vietnam War protests, hippies, and the election of Richard Nixon.

“We must believe that each one of us can make a difference. We must never move away from the belief that the efforts of each individual can have a great effect upon this city, and upon this state and this nation.”

Charles F. Knight

in 2014 Olin Business Magazine

Robert S. Brookings: Entrepreneur, philanthropist, civil servant

Robert Brookings’ early successes in business set in motion a series of events that had lasting effects for St. Louis, Washington University, and ultimately, the Olin Business School.

“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

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.

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.

Career Advice from George Bauer

George Bauer, EN’53, SI’59, looks back on a long career that started with IBM and continues today through diversified investments and strong support for Washington University in St. Louis.

“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.

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.

Cliff Ang, BSBA '99

Cliff Ang, BSBA ’99, reflects on how his Olin Business School education helps him manage multiple generations in the workplace and his hopes for the school’s next century.

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.

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.

“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

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.

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.

Olin's Party of the Century

Olin Business School celebrated its 100th anniversary with hundreds of alumni, professors, students and friends at a gala April 21, 2017.

“For as long as I have been dean, I have dreamed that at some point our School might be named for a person who has a national reputation commanding wide respect, and that, in the process of naming, there would come to the School a significant amount of financial resources. Now this dream is reality.”

Bob Virgil

Dean Emeritus, 1977–1993, when announcing the John M. Olin Foundation’s $15 million grant for endowment.

Experiential Learning: Part of Olin’s DNA for a century

Business trends come and go, but one component of business education has been a constant at Washington University since 1917. On-the-job experience has been a hallmark of every student’s time at the business school since its founding.

Olin has many key global partnerships, including: the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC; Fudan University in Shanghai; IIT-Bombay in Mumbai; Singapore Management University; Yonsei University in South Korea; and IDC Herzliya in Israel, among others.

Thurtene Carnival: WashU’s oldest tradition

The first Thurtene Carnival was held in 1907. Next month, WashU’s oldest tradition returns to campus.

Happy 100th Birthday, Olin

On March 30, 2017, Olin students, faculty, and staff celebrated 100 years of excellence in business education.

The Korea Project: Modernized business, transformed lives

How Washington University helped restore South Korean business education from the ravages of war and contributed to the nation’s economic rise.

“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.

The man behind Simon Hall

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.

Supporting Scholars in Business at Washington University in St. Louis

When Dean Robert Virgil launched the Scholars in Business scholarship program at Olin Business School in 1985, Sid Guller, BSBA’47, was one of the first alumni to sign up as a donor. He has supported dozens of students over the years and believes scholarships are more important than ever before.

A brief history of Washington University’s Bear

Since the bear’s beginnings, University athletic teams, fraternities, and administration have all had a hand in shaping its appearance and function.

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.

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.

“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

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.

Sandy Jurgenson: What WashU Means to Me

Sandy Jurgenson, BSBA ’81, recalls her memories at Olin. Her father was an administrator at Washington University and her world has revolved around the university for most of her life.

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

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.

Sandra Marks, MBA'83

The Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management opened the door to the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis for Sandra Marks, MBA’83. She reflects on her time at Olin and the school’s next century.