Irene Lange, who was the first faculty member of Cal State Fullerton's Mihaylo College to achieve 50 years of service to the college.

Mihaylo Marketing Professor and Department Chair Irene Lange. CREDIT: Matt Gush

Mihaylo Marketing Professor Irene Lange has been involved with the CSUF business college for 50 years. She discusses her research during her career and the changes in the college and the industry.

“Over 50 years, the essence of marketing, which is providing value to the customer, has not changed,” says Marketing Professor Irene Lange, Mihaylo’s first faculty member to teach for five decades at the college. “However, technology has transformed the tools we use to communicate with the consumer. The emergent fields of Internet marketing, database marketing and social media marketing embody this shift to capturing big data through consumer technology interfaces on a one-to-one basis in real time.”

Lange was born in the Baltic State of Lithuania to German-Russian parents during World War II. Much of her childhood was spent in refugee camps while her father fought in the Lithuanian military. After the victorious Soviets sentenced her father to 20 years of hard labor, Lange immigrated with her mother to the United States, where she completed undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs in marketing at the University of Illinois.

Ensuring a Global Perspective for Cal State Fullerton’s Business Program

Lange joined the CSU Fullerton staff in 1965, less than a decade after the university’s founding in 1957. For more than 20 years, she was the executive director of the International Marketing Association of Orange County, assisting small companies with export programs. Among her current community involvements are membership in the Southern California District Export Council, the International Committee of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce and the International Business Advisory Committee of Fullerton College.

A Russian, Lithuanian and German speaker, Lange was active in the region’s higher education system following the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. She lectured at the Moscow State Institute of Steel and Alloys in Russia in 1992 and has visited the Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) in Lithuania nearly each year since 1993.

Irene Lange, Mihaylo College marketing professor, holds up a grayscale photo of her mother, Elena, from the 1930s.

Lange holds up a photograph of her mother, Elena, taken in the 1930s.

“Dr. Lange has a passion for learning new concepts, methods and ideas and then disseminating them,” Mihaylo Marketing Professor Katrin Harich wrote in a faculty award recommendation in 2012. “Another area of excitement for her is seeing students apply what they learn as they pursue their careers.” Over the years, Lange has encouraged the use of internships, speaker events and the latest technological and industry trends in marketing to train Mihaylo students. Her international perspective led her to collaborate with the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to create the undergraduate International Business program, which involves foreign language proficiency and business acumen.

Lange has been elected chair of the marketing department annually since 1977. She is the recipient of the 1995 Marketing Educator of the Year award and the 2010 Lifetime Contribution Award from the Marketing Educators Association (MEA). On May 1, Mihaylo Dean Anil Puri honored Lange as the first faculty member to achieve 50 years of service to the college.

A vintage view of the Cal State Fullerton campus, looking northward from the campus of Hope International University

An early photo of the CSU Fullerton campus

Looking Back, Looking Ahead 

Looking back over the past half century, Lange notes that the marketing department has changed locations many times through the years, before the completion of the current state-of-the-art Steven G. Mihaylo Hall in 2008. “It started in McCarthy Hall, which was the science building; moved to the library; then to Langsdorf Hall; expanded to University Hall; and landed in College Park. It finally found a home in the Steven G. Mihaylo Building, joining the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics,” she says.

While looking back on a successful past, as department chair, Lange always has an eye on the future. “We, at the marketing department, always aim to maintain the currency of the program,” she says. “In the near term, we will focus specifically on two areas – the content areas we need to cover and improving student learning.” Much of the change is influenced by shifts in the industry. “The field of marketing is changing its orientation towards one that is more sensitive to the needs of the society and the sustainability of our environment,” she adds. “On the student-learning front, there is need for the new and the old. Technology changes continue to provide new tools for better student learning; it is imperative that we try these new tools and see which work well for our students.  Exercises that emphasize critical thinking, strong communication skills and real world experiences remain as useful as ever.”