Department ofHistory

The Benson Family

  In 2004, a gift from the Benson Family Foundation of Portland, Ore., created the first fully funded, endowed chair at PLU. The Benson Family Foundation was created by Dale and Jolita Benson with a $3.4 million gift, the larger portion of which is intended for the benefit of PLU as one of the independent foundation’s two supported organizations.

The foundation also supports St. Luke Lutheran Church in Portland, Ore., which receives contributions for its social concerns and trust fund committees. One of the purposes of the St. Luke trust fund committee is to provide scholarships for students to attend PLU, other Lutheran colleges and universities and Lutheran seminaries.

The Bensons both attended PLU in the early 1960s. Dale Benson earned a bachelor’s degree in history at PLU in 1963 and both a master’s and a doctorate from the University of Maine. He says his career in the financial industry has been heavily influenced by his liberal arts background and understanding of the historical roots of the American economy.

“We envision the Benson Family Chair as providing the opportunities for students in history, economics and business to understand the political, social and philosophical contexts of current economic history,” Dale Benson said.

The Bensons are parents of four daughters, three of whom are PLU graduates. One of the purposes of the Benson Family Foundation is to involve the Benson children and their families in charitable activities on behalf of supported organizations.

Benson Family Chair in Business and Economic History

E. Wayne Carp, a internationally recognized authority on the history of adoption, has been named to the Benson Family Chair in Business and Economic History, Pacific Lutheran University's first endowed chair.

Carp has taught American history at PLU for 25 years and served as chair of the History Department for six years. His expertise in the history of adoption has led to the publication of three books and dozens of scholarly journal articles, speaking appearances at conferences and seminars and regular appearances in the national news media. Carp received his Ph.D. in American history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1981.

Previous Benson Lecturers:

Michael A. Bernstein (2006)
Richard R. John (2007)
Naomi R. Lamoreaux (2007)
Peter H. Lindert (2008)
Walter Licht (2009)
Joyce Appleby (2010)
Peter Coclanis (2011)
Deirdre N. McCloskey (2012)
The Tenth Annual Dale E. Benson Lecture in Business and Economic History
Please join us on Monday, October 13, 2014 in the Anderson University Center (AUC 100), at 7:30pm to hear guest lecturer Gary Cross, Distinguished Professor of Modern History at Pennsylvania State University.  This year the Benson Lecture is entitled "The Package and Its Pleasures: How American Business and Technology Shaped Consumer Desire." This lecture is free and open to the public.