In October of 1994, Tom and Ellen Foster, both Bradley University graduates, announced their gift of $7.5 million to the College of Business Administration. In honor of their accomplishments and support of the University, the College of Business Administration changed its name to the Foster College of Business Administration.
Tom Foster received his degree in Marketing in 1951 and his MBA in 1952. While still in college, Tom founded Foster & Gallagher, Inc., growing it into a successful direct mail marketing business that eventually included twelve mail order firms in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands. Ellen Foster '52 worked as active member in advertising and marketing trade associations, and with a number of charitable and civic organizations in the Peoria area. She was also a member of the Bradley University Board of Trustees, having served as its chairman from 1997 to 2000.
In making the gift, Mr. Foster commented, "Our respect for and interest in Bradley University has been long standing. Both Ellie and I feel our lives were impacted in a very positive manner because of our exposure as students at Bradley. The education and values received here certainly contributed to enabling us to define goals and to grow in ways that have benefited us greatly over the years. We also have been proud to see the quality of the entire educational process at Bradley become even finer over time. It is our firm belief that education constitutes one of the most important keys to anyone's ability to lead a life which is meaningful to themselves as well as to the world in which they function. This community, in our opinion, is indeed enriched in countless ways by Bradley's presence here, and we are truly pleased to help ensure its future as an outstanding University and as an integral part of what Peoria has to offer."
This generous gift has made a profound impact on the college's quest for national prominence. Among colleges with accredited business and accounting programs, the Foster College of Business ranks as the 21st named college of business administration in the nation, joining such schools as the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania, the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth, and the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.
The naming of the College of Business added prestige to Bradley University in addition to providing substantial funds for use within the college and the university. The Foster gift is utilized by the Foster College of Business Administration to:
- provide scholarships for business students,
- support outreach programs to the community,
- recruit and retain outstanding business faculty members,
- support faculty research and professional activities,
- enhance business library collections, and
- maintain state-of-the-art technical facilities for teaching and computing.
In response to the Foster’s gift, former Bradley University President John Brazil said, "There's a lot of love, a lot of belief in the University, and commitment to the future behind this gift. The Fosters have made an enormous investment in the University and the community. In the finest tradition of American philanthropy, they're using the fruits of their labors to improve the world or at least that portion of it where they live and work. Their gift will allow the Foster College of Business to become one of the finest business schools in the country."