The Deans of the 1940s and World War II

During Isador Loeb’s long tenure as dean of the business school (1925-1940), he oversaw significant changes in the school’s direction, which now emphasized a commitment to public service and administration. More changes were in store for The School of Business and Public Administration as the 1940s were dominated by World War II and its aftermath. The reality was that the world would be changed forever.

William H. Stead (1940-1944)

William H. Stead

William H. Stead

Much like his predecessor Isador Loeb, William Stead had interests in public administration and government. Stead was a former University of Minnesota professor and an economist who specialized in labor issues. He came to WashU after seven years with the US Employment Service in Washington, DC.

Dean Stead’s interest in labor also influenced the curriculum according to the 1943 Hatchet: “The faculty has opened many new classes in connection with the problems in labor created by the war. The US Employment Service has offered several courses right in their offices on various aspects of labor placement. New courses in office management and personnel were added and a course in Current Economic Problems was introduced by the Dean second semester. Many courses are not being offered at night in connection with the government’s War Training Program, and a new course of Cost Accounting for War Industry has been developed.”

During World War II, Dean Stead took on several roles for the war that linked the business school to the War Emergency Program. The Hatchet reported that Stead served as Washington University’s Armed Services Representative, putting him in charge of the Army and Navy Reserves. That resulted in Stead making all contacts between students in these reserves and their respective headquarters.

“The Army required those boys in the advanced classes of ROTC to make use of the accelerated program [in the business school] and many other boys took advantage of this opportunity to finish their education before being called to active service in the other branches. Most girls in the senior class took the accelerated course, also, in order to graduate earlier and take advantage of the numerous openings for women in business today. As a result, 54 students received their diplomas on February 4, four months ahead of their normal graduation time.”
The Hatchet, 1943

Stead also served part time on the Regional Board of the National War Labor Board, as a member of the Technical Board of the United States Employment Service, and as Chairman of the Industrial Committee of the Wage and Hour Administration. He resigned as dean in 1944 to become the director of a new institute at Vanderbilt focused on training and research in the social sciences.

Acting Deans, 1944-1949

Isaac Lippincott

Isaac Lippincott

After Dean Stead resigned in 1944, the School of Business and Public Administration was governed by acting deans for the remainder of the decade. The first, Isaac Lippincott, was a “prolific scholar and beloved confidante of the students,” according to an anonymous history of Olin deans found in the WashU archives. During Dean Lippincott’s 43 years at Washington University, he spent only four, from 1944 to 1948, leading the business school.

Charles Belknap

Charles Belknap

Charles Belknap, an ex-naval officer and retired president of the Monsanto Chemical Company, was next to take up the reins of acting dean. Belknap, who served as dean until 1949, was admired for his “business acumen and brisk decisiveness,” according to Ralph E. Morrow’s history of Washington University.

In 1949, the School hired Leslie J. Buchan, who served as dean from 1949-1951.

Photos courtesy of WashU Archives.

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