Ethically Professional WWU prepares Christians for the business world

Since opening its doors over a century ago, the School of Business has grown to be one of the largest programs at Walla Walla University. Its Web page states they "are dedicated to helping students obtain a strong background in business with a sound Christian philosophy."

And they mean it.

All students in Walla Walla University's School of Business are required to take a class entitled Business Ethics their senior year. The class is geared toward teaching students to not only practice good business skills, but to keep their focus on God as they act as professional business men and women.

"Most business decisions have an ethical component," says Ken Vyhmeister, WWU controller, who was invited to teach the class this year. "This is what we study in our class: The various ways to approach an ethical issue in the business world."

In addition to the regular textbook, Vyhmeister uses the Bible as a major source of information and insight. In particular the class looks at the books of Matthew, which was written by a businessman, and Proverbs, which contains many points directed at those involved in business. They also study the principles of ethics in business taken from the writings of Ellen White.

"My goal is to help WWU produce business graduates that are second to none when it comes to integrity, wisdom and good decision making," says Vyhmeister. "If I can encourage them to walk with Christ throughout their lives, I know they will go far in their careers. I really want them to succeed."

Before coming to WWU, Vyhmeister worked 11 years for billionaire Donald Bren as corporate controller of his holding company. "At that level of an organization, integrity is much more highly valued than book knowledge," he says.

While working for Bren, Vyhmeister's annual bonus was more than his entire year's salary at WWU. But he says with a grin that he's very glad to be where he is now.

"I try to teach my students to follow where God leads them, and wherever that is, be satisfied there," he says. "There is no better place to be than wherever God puts you."

April 01, 2010 / Walla Walla University

Becky St. Clair, WWU GLEANER correspondent