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School of Business, Government, and Economics History

Some people judge a business school and its programs by how many faculty it employs, the number of its buildings, or the monuments to the past it has erected. From its inception in 1977, SPU's School of Business, Government, and Economics chose a different standard ― quality faculty and curricula, commitment to values and ethics, and dedication to graduating students ready and able to impact their professional and personal worlds.

This standard has never been abandoned. Leadership, vision, and the unceasing quest for success and excellence has been the School of Business, Government, and Economics' hallmark throughout our history.

Early Years

Dr. Joe Hope was appointed the first dean of the School in 1979. His energy and progressive thinking defined our foundation: to make the School of Business, Government, and Economics a high-quality Christian school for the study of business and economics.

Dr. Hope guided the growth of the new professional school through its first full decade. The MBA program was launched in 1983. The Puget Sound business community and its leaders partnered with the School of Business, Government, and Economics, establishing the Executive Advisory Board (originally the Executive Advisory Council). Dr. Hope took the lead in raising funds to support the School's programs, provide student scholarships, and facilitate faculty development. He also oversaw the opening of McKenna Hall, which became possible when businessman Donald Snellman presented Seattle Pacific University with $500,000 in 1981. McKenna Hall, named in honor of Seattle Pacific's fifth president, Dr. David McKenna, opened in January 1983.

A generous donor gift also established the first endowment: the Snellman Professor of Entrepreneurship. Dr. Herb Kierulff, nationally recognized expert on entrepreneurship, came to SPU from the University of Southern California to receive this first endowed professorship. 

Dean Hope made ethics the cornerstone of the School of Business, Government, and Economics and created the Joseph C. Hope Leadership and Ethics Endowment. The endowment conferred its first award on Dr. Alec Hill in 1993. Other faculty receiving this distinguished honor have been Dr. Ian Stewart, Dr. Gary Karns, Dr. Kenman Wong, Dr. Denise Daniels, Dr. Ross Stewart, and Dr. Randy Franz.

Dr. Ken Knight succeeded Dr. Hope as dean in 1990, and he began the initial foray into the pursuit of AACSB accreditation. Dr. Knight, the faculty, and the School's staff recognized it would be a long, taxing climb to reach the pinnacle of this higher accreditation.

In 1995, Dr. Alec Hill, the School of Business, Government, and Economics' third dean, directed the final crucial phase of the rigorous journey to AACSB accreditation. Finally in April 2000, Dr. Hill, along with SPU's ninth president, Dr. Philip W. Eaton, announced that SPU's School of Business, Government, and Economics had been recognized by AACSB International as worthy of joining their elite group of accredited institutions.

Next Steps

Other achievements followed. The School of Business, Government, and Economics, in cooperation with the University, launched the annual Downtown Business Breakfast, bringing together more than a thousand prominent business people from the Seattle area each year. Nationally known speakers have included prominent cultural and political commentator David Brooks; Dr. Vali Nasr, senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; and best-selling author Carly Fiorina, a strategic advisor to business and government.

The Center for Applied Learning, with Dr. Nancy Lucks as director, was created to provide students with practical learning opportunities beyond the classroom through a mentor program, internships, service learning, and entrepreneurship. It is supported today through the Nancy Lucks Applied Learning Endowment and grant funding from the Herb Jones Foundation. Generous contributions from USWest and the School's alumni established a USWest Computer Lab in McKenna Hall.

As the new century dawned, the School of Business, Government, and Economics continued to move forward. Charged with building on the foundation of accreditation, Dr. Jeff Van Duzer was selected as the fourth dean in 2001. Seeking to broaden and deepen its influence, the School moved forward with a renewed vision to be nationally recognized as one of the premier Christian business schools in the world by fully integrating an academically rigorous business and economics curriculum with Christian faith and values.

In the years of Dr. Van Duzer's leadership, many new initiatives in support of the vision were implemented to serve students, the community, and the world. Oxford, England, was the site of the first study abroad program, and undergraduate and graduate students now travel to China as well.

The Center for Integrity in Business was formed in 2002 to promote a thorough reevaluation of the purpose, role, and values of business in these times of moral and ethical crisis. There is “another way of doing business” and under this conviction, the School of Business, Government, and Economics at SPU continues its unwavering dedication to excellence.

In November 2012, Jeff Van Duzer was selected as the SPU provost. On July 1, 2013, former Microsoft executive and Colorado State University professor Joseph Williams was named the fifth dean of Seattle Pacific University's School of Business, Government, and Economics. 

"We are very excited to see how Dr. Williams will lead the School of Business, Government, and Economics and its signature approach of 'business as service' into the future," says SPU President Daniel J. Martin.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. 1 Corinthians 3:10 (NIV)

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