Dr. Steven H. Eichmeier
A brief history of the professional sales department - 1968-2020
In the Spring of 1968, I was hired to implement the Department of Distributive Education which ultimately became the Professional Sales Department. Following are the major milestones of the department which started with 15 students and one faculty member Fall quarter 1968. The department now has 541 students and eight full-time faculty members and three adjuncts as of Fall semester 2021.
During Summer 1968 as the first faculty member of this department, I designed a curriculum which included a one-year certificate program and a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree. This involved several meetings with the Academic V.P. and presentations to the college’s curriculum committee. This committee was not super supportive of the idea. During this Summer, students were recruited from the local high schools where they were involved with the Distributive Education program.
The program’s first quarter started with 15 students and one faculty member plus was an approved program for 3 years. The department grew to the point of needing a second faculty member by the Fall quarter of 1969. Dan Litchford was hired and started Winter quarter 1970 to help meet the growth. The first graduates were Spring quarter 1970. This was a significant milestone for the department and insured its continuing growth.
The program was given permanent status and was moved from state vocational funding to the college’s general budget. The program growth was due largely because of the involvement of local employers serving on the department’s advisory committee and insuring that our curriculum was giving the students the required selling skills necessary for employment. Graduating students had multiple job opportunities in sales and related fields.
The next major milestone was when the department added to the two-year Associate Degree, a four-year B.S. Degree in Professional Sales. Up to this point, the program’s emphasis had been retailing. This new direction focused on preparing students for direct sales career options. Most professional sales organizations require a four-year degree, thus initiating a B.S. degree in Sales was welcomed by business and industry.
Initially the new B.S. degree was titled "Technical Sales" however, in the early 2000 decade, the department’s title was changed to "Professional Sales", which is much better understood by employers and students.
A Sales Center of Excellence was established specifically to work with employers to help them meet their employment needs and to help the department keep the sales curriculum current.
The Professional Sales Department is starting a new chapter. Myself, Dan Litchford, Desiree Cooper Larsen and Carl Grunander each have 40 plus years of teaching experience in the department and have retired or passed on, enabling the new faculty to take the department to its next level of growth.