Tom Carlson

Retired biology professor Tom Carlson, Ph.D., helped put PLU on the map as a go-to place for pre-med and pre-dental students.

During more than four decades of service to the university, he was a nationally recognized advisor to students, an administrator and a beloved faculty member.

He died July 24, 2019, surrounded by his wife Karen and her family.

Between 1975 and 2019, he served in a wide variety of roles. He received PLU’s Faculty Excellence Award in Advising and the American College Testing Program and National Academic Advising Association National Academic Advising Award. At various times, he was PLU’s dean of natural sciences, biology chair, a member of the General Education Council, the Admission & Retention Committee, and the Campus Life Committee.

“Tom immersed himself in pre-med and pre-dental advising and was instrumental in strengthening PLU’s reputation as being ‘the place to go’ for pre-med and pre-dental students,” said Matt Smith, PLU associate professor of biology. “He was truly influential in the success of many dozens of PLU students who went on to become physicians and dentists.”

Hailing from Minnesota, Carlson obtained his bachelor’s degree in biology at Carleton College. After graduation, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in Guam. Upon completing his military commitment, Carlson began working on a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Minnesota.

After earning his Ph.D., he joined the PLU faculty. His scholarly activities addressed embryonic development and metamorphosis of Bombina orientalis (fire-bellied toad). He kept five or six of the charismatic little amphibians in his research lab until his retirement, hand-feeding them bits of liver.

Carlson was known as the department’s developmental biologist, who regularly taught the upper-division course in the subject and routinely participated in the biology core, required by all majors. In 1996 he was awarded a National Science Foundation grant, along with colleagues Angie Alexander and John Lindbo, to invest in creating more investigative labs in the first course of the biology core.

Carlson was a strong advocate of, and an active mentor for, student-centered research from his first days at PLU – long before there were formal programs and funding. Both he and his wife were also generous donors to PLU through the years.

Dwight Zulauf

Dwight Judson Zulauf, Ph.D., former PLU faculty member and the first dean of the School of Business, died July 26, 2019 at the age of 91.

He started his career at PLU in 1949 teaching accounting and would spend most of his academic career with the university until finally retiring — for a second time — in 1998.

Zulauf was a founding member of the PLU School of Business in 1960 and its first dean, serving until 1966. In 1990, upon the retirement of his friend and colleague, Gundar King, Zulauf was unanimously voted by the faculty to be the interim dean, while a national search took place.

“He is considered the heart of the School of Business,” said Catherine Pratt, a professor in the School of Business.

“Dwight was a mentor and guide to generations of faculty and students,” Pratt added. “He was known for his generosity of heart.”

Zulauf was an internationally recognized scholar, author and consultant. In 1972, he was elected as a Regency Professor by the Board of Regents.

He earned his bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Oregon, his master of science degree in industrial relations from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Minnesota.

Zulauf was born in Colorado in 1927 and grew up in Phoenix, Oregon.

He is preceded in death by his first wife Emilie (Lee) ’51 and his second wife Wilma Jean. He is survived by Geoffrey and Kathryn (Zulauf) Harris and their three children; David Zulauf and his daughter; David’s wife Shelli and her son; John and Beth Zulauf and their four children.

Since 1960, Zulauf was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, located near the PLU campus. A memorial service was held there.

Dixie Lee Mathias

PLU alumna and former faculty member Dixie Matthias died June 24, 2019.

She grew up in Nezperce, Idaho, where she developed her love of music, books and a steadfast faith. She was also a woman of science who taught at PLU for many years.

“Dixie had a warm infectious smile and a cheery demeanor,” said Mary Ellard-Ivey, PLU professor of biology. “She had a knack for connecting in meaningful ways to all she encountered — students and colleagues alike.”

Matthias came to PLU, where she sang in Choir of the West and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from PLU in 1962. She received her master of science degree from the University of Washington in 1965.

While a student at PLU, she met her husband Paul Matthias; they married in 1964. She taught in Wisconsin and Iowa as he completed seminary and eventually he received a pastoral call from Spanaway Lutheran Church. She served for many years as a musician for the church.

In 1975, she began teaching human anatomy and physiology laboratories at PLU and continued in that position until she retired in 2002.

She initiated and guided the human cadaver dissection program at PLU, working with the University of Washington School of Medicine to establish protocols.

Matthias is survived by her husband, two sons and five grandchildren.