Santa Clara University


About Charles Dirksen

The longest-serving dean in the history of Santa Clara University's School of Business, Charlie Dirksen was appointed to the business school faculty in 1938 as a professor of advertising, and became dean in 1941. Under his leadership, the School grew in size, quality, and number of educational offerings, developing original programs for business students and the community. As one of the first business educators to emphasize ethical decision-making as part of a business graduate's set of skills, he was honored at his retirement as dean with creation of the Charles J. Dirksen Chair in Business Ethics in 1979.

Among the innovative programs launched during his tenure were the introduction of women students into evening undergraduate business classes (1947, more than a decade before women were accepted at SCU), the creation of the Center for Leadership Development in 1957 (now known as the Executive Development Center), and, in the 1960s, opening of television and computer facilities for students and faculty to enhance the practical side of business studies.

Dirksen's creativity in developing business education was so attractive that (according to Leavey School lore) Hewlett Packard co-founder David Packard  asked him to develop an MBA program to keep Packard's top talent employed at the firm while enhancing the company's intellectual capital. Thus, the Santa Clara Evening MBA program was launched in 1959, becoming one of the first Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)-accredited graduate business programs in the nation.

The dean's business acumen was in demand during the post-war boom in Santa Clara Valley as a number of companies such as World Airways and Western Gear Corporation recruited him as a director. In 1972, he and several area business leaders founded the Bank of Santa Clara.

Dirksen's influence on the practice of business and business education was widespread, as he wrote or co-authored more than 15 books and texts and more than 200 articles and research papers. He was book review editor of the Journal of Marketing, board member of Harvard Business School's Intercollegiate Case Clearing House, and California Management Review's advisory board. In addition, he served as AACSB president (1965-66) and sat on the Executive Committee of Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society.

Dean Dirksen was born in Springfield, IL, in 1912 and attended St. Louis University for his undergraduate and graduate degrees, coming to California to join Santa Clara in the early 1930s. He died in February 9, 1988.

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