Students, staff and faculty packed the Scandinavian Culture Center when Pacific Lutheran University alumnus and CEO of Alaska Airlines, Brad Tilden ‘83, came to campus on Oct. 17. Tilden visited campus to speak at the annual Dale E. Benson Lecture in Business and Economic History.

A graduate of the PLU School of Business, Tilden also served as a member of the PLU Board of Regents before assuming  his current position as Chief Executive Officer.

While running the company that has, according to J.D. Power and Associates, the highest satisfaction rating of traditional airlines, Tilden still had time to drop by his alma mater to sit on a panel with current PLU professors to talk to a group of students about business in the real world.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy Sergia Hay, Professor of Economics Norris Peterson, Assistant Professor of Business Mark Mulder, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion Bridgette O’Brien and Professor of History and Benson Family Chair Michael Halvorson all sat on the panel with Tilden to answer student-posed questions about topics that ranged from business ethics to social justice. Tilden was accompanied by a group of Alaska Airlines employees, several of whom are also PLU alumni who helped answer some of the more specific questions.

Questions were posed by students from varying disciplines on campus. One student asked about the company’s treatment of the indigenous people of Alaska, while another asked about ticket pricing and the company’s responsibility to customers.

Sophomore Grace Meno attended the event, and was impressed with the way Tilden answered questions addressed to him.

“I thought it was really cool to see what a personable and down to earth guy he was,” said Meno. “You could really tell that his employees enjoyed working with him.”

While some students attended the event because they had been talking about Alaska Airlines in class, Meno came for a different reason.

“I just thought it was so cool that they got such an important person to come to campus, and that he was so interesting,” said Meno.

These sentiments were echoed by Senior Jonah Hoverson.

“I enjoyed how Brad let his employees talk about aspects of the company and was constantly integrating them into the conversation,” said Hoverson.

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