History of the Foster College

In 1897, Lydia Moss Bradley founded Bradley Polytechnic Institute as a tribute to her children, all of whom died at a young age, and her late husband, Tobias. The school was originally a two-year junior college, but by 1920 many programs of study were extended into four years. It was in this year that business education began at Bradley.

In 1920, the Department of Business Administration and Economics was organized, offering a two-year program of study. At this time, one full-time faculty member, Loyal G. Tillotson, and a few part-time instructors, who were local business people, taught courses. In the next three years, demand for a four-year program became so great that in 1923, the Bachelor of Science program was instituted within Bradley Polytechnic Institute. The B.S. degree consisted of thirty hours in economics, accounting, business correspondence, business law, salesmanship and advertising, as well as general education requirements.

 In 1924, the Department of Business Administration and Economics became the Department of Business Administration, with Loyal G. Tillotson appointed the first dean. By 1930, the faculty grew to four full-time instructors, and it was in this year that Harold Avery, the first faculty member with a Ph.D., was hired in the department. 

In 1946, Bradley Polytechnic Institute was fully reorganized, and became Bradley University. One of the units became the School of Business.  With the end of World War II, enrollment within the School of Business increased dramatically. To respond to the increasing demand, the newly founded School of Business was organized into four departments: Accounting, General Business, Marketing and Retailing, and Economics, with the School of International Studies added in 1948. The Graduate School of Business was also established in 1946, however, graduate courses in the Master of Business Administration and Master of Arts in Economics did not begin until the 1948-49 school year. The MBA program continues today, but the MA in Economics was ended in 1961. 

By 1950 another reorganization of the university resulted in the formation of separate colleges, including the College of Commerce. Robert A. Jamieson became first dean of the business college. The name of the college was changed to the College of Business Administration in 1956 to reflect the contemporary name for business schools.

In 1978, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) granted special business accreditation to the undergraduate program. In April 1983, AACSB International accredited the MBA program. The following year in May, AACSB International granted separate accreditation to the undergraduate accounting program. At this time, Bradley was one of only 40 schools in the United States to receive such accounting accreditation. 

In 1994, the College of Business Administration was renamed the Foster College of Business Administration in honor of a generous gift from Tom and Ellen Foster, both Bradley graduates. 

The MBA program was significantly revised in 1995 to include new core classes and concentration options. Also in 1995, a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree was created to meet the additional educational requirements needed to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. The Executive MBA in Leadership Program began in 2001, and was renamed the Theresa S. Falcon Executive MBA in 2009, honoring a gift from Dr. Theresa S. Falcon-Cullinan. Also in 2009, the Foster College of Business Administration added a Master of Science in Quantitative Finance (MSQF) degree and the Graduate Certificate in Management (GCM) to its graduate program offerings.

Today, the Foster College of Business consists of 54 full-time faculty, including three executive-in-residence faculty. Approximately 900 undergraduate students study within nine major programs of study and seven minors.  In general, 225 graduate students take part in accelerated, part-time or full-time studies within the Executive MBA, MBA, MSA, MSQF, or GCM degree programs.