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The extraordinary man whose name is synonymous with the School of Accountancy’s celebrated past will now be linked to its future achievements.

Charles Lamden was mentor to hundreds of San Diego State’s most successful accounting graduates throughout his 35-year academic career. During the 1950s and ‘60s, he was chair of the accounting department and eventually became the first dean of SDSU’s School of Business (later the College of Business Administration).

In honor of Lamden’s contributions to SDSU and in recognition of his deep attachment to the university, Lamden’s wife, Gertrude, has made a $10 million naming gift to the School of Accountancy.

The Charles W. Lamden School of Accountancy is the first named school on campus, and Gertrude Lamden’s gift is one of the largest ever to SDSU.

It will support faculty, student and program excellence – including recruitment and retention of outstanding professors – and will fund a variety of other initiatives designed to transform the school into one of the nation’s most respected.

With more than 700 students and 35 faculty, emeritus faculty and lecturers, the School of Accountancy has a solid reputation in the academic community. A hallmark of the school is the consistent involvement of faculty and students with accounting professionals in the real world, a model established by Charles Lamden years ago.

Dr. William “Bill” Lamden, Charles’ son, said his father’s dedication to San Diego State, and particularly to its students, was a fundamental impetus for the gift.

“He would be proud and honored to know that, with the support of his colleagues and former students, the college’s School of Accountancy will now share in his success and bear his name,” Lamden said.

Marriage of shared interests

Both Charles and Trudy (as she is known to friends) came from humble beginnings. Through hard work and perseverance, they gradually built a comfortable life for themselves and raised two children, Dr. William Lamden and Dr. Carol Lamden Corby.

With a doctoral degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, Charles Lamden went to work for the local accounting firm Everts and Esenoff, which later merged with the national firm Peat, Marwick & Mitchell and is now KPMG.

Trudy Lamden also joined Everts and Esenoff, becoming its first female certified public accountant at the firm’s highest level of management. Friends of the family remember Charles’ pride in the successes of his trail-blazing wife.

After several years in the private sector, Lamden joined San Diego State College as a professor in 1946 and later was appointed chair of the Department of Accounting and Management. He championed the establishment of the School of Business Administration (later the College of Business Administration), for which he served as dean from 1954 to 1965. In that role, he was largely responsible for its formal accreditation.

In 1965, Lamden left SDSU to spend more than a decade with KPMG, first as senior partner in the Paris office and later as a top executive in New York.

During this period, Trudy’s career changed paths. She developed an aptitude for real estate investment. Success in this new endeavor augmented the Lamden family assets that now enable Trudy to make this significant gift acknowledging her husband’s contributions to SDSU.

A model of excellence

In 1975, the Lamden family returned to San Diego, and Charles rejoined the School of Accountancy at SDSU. Until his retirement in 1991, he continued to teach and mentor.

He was twice voted outstanding professor of accountancy by the students of Beta Alpha Psi, the honorary accounting organization. In 1979, he was selected “most influential professor” by the Cap and Gown Society and received the Distinguished Professor Award from the California Society of CPAs.

In 1996, he was posthumously recognized by the SDSU chapter of Mortar Board, the national honor society, for an outstanding career exemplifying the ideals of scholarship, leadership, dedication and service.

During this time, Lamden also served as president of the San Diego chapter of the CPA Society, vice president of the American Accounting Association and chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Accreditation for the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business.

Sharon Lightner, the William E. Cole Director of SDSU's School of Accountancy, is one of many alums for whom Lamden was mentor and friend. Others include Beth Regan, a CPA and Lamden’s former graduate assistant, and Allan Bailey, a faculty colleague of Lamden’s and later dean of the College of Business.

The three worked with the Lamden family over many months to finalize this significant gift in honor of the man who was both guide and inspiration to them. 

“Charles had the vision to see what our school could become; he embodied the excellence that we represent today,” Lightner said. “This gift from his family inspires us to honor his legacy by continuing to produce highly skilled, committed and honorable accounting professionals who will serve our society and advance the field.”

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