Our History

Think. Do. Become. At LSBE, we teach our students to think critically and analytically—to question the answers as much as they answer the questions. We challenge them to look up from the books and physically do the things they are studying. We push them. We prepare them. In the end, this opens them up to become whatever they wish.

Our graduates are leaders in business, management, finance, accounting, management information systems, marketing, and economics. We pride ourselves in offering industry-relevant curriculum that creates opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning. With 14 majors and four degree programs, students have a variety of academic options to pick from. LSBE does not make use of Teaching Assistants as instructors. All our courses are taught by faculty, a vast majority of whom have terminal degrees in their respective disciplines.

All our programs (BBA, BAcc, MBA) are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the premier accrediting body for business schools. Globally, less than 5% of business schools have this accreditation. This accreditation provides an external assurance to all stakeholders regarding LSBE’s commitment to providing quality education and engaging in continuous improvement.

History of LSBE

The Labovitz School of Business and Economics (called the School of Business and Economics before 2003) became a separate collegiate unit as part of a structural reorganization on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus in 1974. In 1947, when the Duluth State Teachers College became a part of the University of Minnesota system, the degree program in business became a major in “Business and Economics” for the Bachelor of Arts degree. This degree was the responsibility of the Department of Business and Economics, one of several departments constituting the Division of Social Sciences at the Duluth campus.

A Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Economics was added in 1952-53. Bachelor of Accounting (BAcc) and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees were added during 1970-72. BAcc and BBA were the two degree programs that moved to the newly formed School of Business and Economics in 1974. An MBA degree was added in 1976. The BA and BS degrees in Economics were moved to the newly-formed College of Letters and Science, and the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Business, Economics, and Office Education was moved to the College of Education. The BA degree in Economics was moved to LSBE from CLA in 2013.

Majors in LSBE

Initially, students completing the BBA degree could choose a General Business Administration track or select from the following concentrations: Accounting, Finance, Industrial Relations (later changed to Personnel and Industrial Relations (1979), and then to Human Resource Management (1985)), International Business, Management Science, and Marketing. A Management Information System (MIS) concentration was added in 1987.

The School switched from concentrations to majors in 1993 with the introduction of three majors: Finance, Marketing, and Management (Human Resource Management, Organizational Management, and MIS). MIS became an independent major in 1999. Nine new majors have been added to the BBA degree since 2000:

  • 2007 - Health Care Management
  • 2008 - Financial Markets (a sub-plan under Finance before 2008)
  • 2011 - Marketing Analytics (renamed Consumer Insights and Analytics in 2020)
  • 2012 - Economics
  • 2013 - Marketing and Graphic Design
  • 2014 - Entrepreneurship
  • 2015 - Financial Planning
  • 2019 - Professional Sales
  • 2020 - Business Analytics

In 2019, the two sub-plans within the Organizational Management major were split into two separate, stand-alone majors: Management and Human Resource Management. With the introduction of these two majors, the old Organizational Management major was discontinued.

LSBE Departments and Buildings

At the time of its formation, the School had four departments- Accounting, Economics, Finance & MIS, and Management Studies (which included Management, Human Resources, and Marketing). In 2006, a fifth department, the Department of Marketing, was added to the School. The school was reorganized into four departments in 2017- Accounting and Finance, Economics, Management Studies, and Marketing. 

LSBE was first housed in its own building in the summer of 1981. The first classes met in the then new building in September of 1981. The building was designed to serve a student population of approximately 1,200, though the actual enrollment at the time the building was first occupied was 1,466. The building provided space on two levels to house the School’s administrative units and classrooms.

By fall 2002, enrollments had swelled to 1,672. The growing number of students, faculty, and staff, as well as a need for modern teaching spaces, initiated the discussions for building a new, state-of-the-art building for the School. A generous gift from Joel and Sharon Labovitz in 2002 helped support the construction of a new building for LSBE. Faculty and staff moved into the new building in the summer of 2008. The 76,260 square feet building was LEED-certified at the gold level. Spread across three floors, the building has ample natural light, varied classroom configurations, state-of-the-art technology, and easy access to the rest of the campus.

LSBE Leadership

LSBE has had five deans and two acting deans. Dr. Hyung K. Kim served as an acting dean from 1974-75. During this period, the School experienced rapid growth in its enrollments.

LSBE’s first regular-appointment dean was Dr. Robert S. Hancock who served from 1975-77. He came from the Department of Management Studies where he was a professor of Marketing. Dr. Hancock was instrumental in establishing the School’s MBA Program.

Dr. David A. Vose, an economist by training, served as the dean from 1977 to 1992. Prior to assuming this role, Dr. Vose served as UMD’s Vice Provost for Academic Administration. He also chaired the Building Committee, which oversaw the construction of the School’s first building, and he was also responsible for the creation of the Center for Economic Development (CED).

From 1992 to 1994, Dr. Thomas B. Duff served as the acting dean. He was called upon to serve again in this role for one more year (1997-98). Dr. Duff played a primary role in helping attain AACSB International accreditation for the School.

Dr. Rodrigo J. Lievano came to UMD from the University of Hartford, CT to serve as LSBE’s next dean from 1994 to 1997. He was responsible for reorganizing the Committee and Governance Structure of the School in a way that helped faculty and administration focus on matters critical to obtaining AACSB International accreditation.

Dr. Kjell R. Knudsen became LSBE’s dean in 1998. It was under his leadership that the school got accredited by AACSB International (2000). After serving as LSBE’s dean for 15 years, Dr. Knudsen stepped down in 2013.

Dr. Amy B. Hietapelto, LSBE’s current dean, joined UMD in 2013 from Northeastern Illinois University, where she had been serving as a dean.