Olin Business School's values displayed in Bauer Hall atrium

Olin Business School’s Vision, Mission, and History

For more than a century, Olin Business School has been a leader and innovator in business education. We are a close-knit community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and business—a community proud of the mission, vision and values we share.

Our Mission

Produce and disseminate path-breaking research and engage with business and government to develop world-class business and organizational leaders and provide a return on investment for our students and alumni.

Our Vision

Through our research, teaching and experiential learning innovations, we will become the premier purpose-led business school in the world for developing transformational values-based and data-driven leaders.

Our Purpose

Discovering knowledge, enriching people and advancing business to change the world, for good.

Our Values

  • Respect: We appreciate everyone for their opinions and contributions, regardless of position or status, and show each other respect at all times.
  • Integrity: We are honest and authentic, we keep our commitments, we are true to our values, and we live up to our social and moral obligations.
  • Collaboration: We develop positive relationships with others as we work to achieve individual and collective goals.
  • Diversity: We appreciate the value of diverse backgrounds and strive to create a community of inclusion, mutual understanding and respect so each person’s value can be fully leveraged.
  • Excellence: We strive to achieve the highest standards of behavior, quality and professionalism in all that we do.
  • Leadership: We take initiative to solve problems and make positive changes in our businesses and in our communities, regardless of what position we might hold.

Our History

Washington University in St. Louis, founded in 1853, established a business school in 1917 and awarded its first undergraduate business degree in 1919. Originally called the School of Commerce and Finance, the business school added an MBA program in 1950 and a doctoral program in 1958. Around this same time, a WashU Olin professor created The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management to give African Americans the business skills needed to secure jobs in top American corporations. The school began an Executive MBA program in 1983, and in 1988, it was named in honor of John M. Olin, chairman of Olin Corporation and a major benefactor of Washington University, in recognition of a gift from the John M. Olin Foundation. A few years later, WashU Olin opened the first-of-its-kind center dedicated to experiential learning.

As times have change, the business school has also changed—it now includes four buildings on WashU’s Danforth Campus. In 2002, WashU Olin partnered with Fudan University to offer a Shanghai-based Executive MBA degree, followed by additional programs with partner universities in India, South Korea, Singapore, Israel, Germany, and Spain. Most recently, WashU Olin invested in a Center for Digital Education, which has enabled the business school to offer online degree programs and certificates, as well as digital engagement and hybrid learning options across the school’s 17 degree programs and its nondegree offerings.