Legacy Family: Bradley Born and Raised

Cathy and Dean Costello with (from left) Michael, Joe and Adam in the Shaheen Hall of Pride at the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center.

Many alumni claim loyalty to Bradley from childhood, but the family of Dean Costello ’86 and Kathryn “Cathy” Lechner Costello, MA ’83 has an especially early and strong connection to the University.

When their two oldest sons, Adam Costello ’07 and Joseph Costello ’09 MBA ’13, were born, the family lived in an apartment house Dean had purchased at 1402 Fredonia Ave., on Fraternity Row, just steps from campus.

Dean spent two years in the early 1970s studying engineering at Bradley before running out of savings. To help pay for school, he enrolled in the apprentice program at Caterpillar Inc. After many years in a variety of roles there, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management and administration. He then moved into management at Caterpillar, eventually retiring in 2009 after 36 years.

A special education teacher for 22 years, Cathy earned a master’s degree in educational administration at Bradley. The advanced degree helped her make the transition to administration at Metamora Grade School, where she was named principal in 2005.

Although all three sons chose Bradley, attendance at their parents’ alma mater wasn’t a foregone conclusion. “We each looked at other colleges,” Adam said. “Somehow, Bradley was the best fit.”

Cathy set parameters for the boys’ college searches. “I wanted them to look at comprehensive universities, in case they chose to change their majors,” she said. “But, I also hoped they’d find a smaller, more personal college. I thought it was important for them to know their professors.”

Dean and Cathy smile when they recall the early years of courtship, marriage and parenthood on campus. They remember strolling on the Quad and in lower Laura Bradley Park. “Bradley was a big part of our lives,” Dean said. “We thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of community.”

Youngest son Michael Costello ’15 MSA ’15 was born after the family moved to nearby Germantown Hills, but once his brothers attended Bradley, he had plenty of exposure to campus. He spent Sibling Weekends with Adam, and Joe volunteered to take him on college visits — one of which was to the Hilltop. “We were both impressed by the tour and our tour guide,” Joe recalled. 

A design engineer at Komatsu America Corp. for the last four years, Adam was a manufacturing engineering major. He was a resident adviser for three years.

Joe majored in international business and later earned his MBA. He was a founding member of Lambda Chi Alpha and Phi Chi Theta (honorary business) fraternities. He works as a market information analyst in the Customer Experience Group at Caterpillar.

Michael, an accounting major who graduated last spring from the 3:2 program, was a member of Delta Tau Delta and Beta Alpha Psi (accounting honorary) fraternities. He also was a graduate assistant and a resident adviser. 

Like his brothers, Michael completed several internships, giving him the real-world experience to land a job offer from his last internship employer — PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He recently accepted a position with PwC’s Chicago office, beginning this fall. 

All three sons were highly involved with sports at Bradley. Adam and Joe had brief stints on the Braves’ baseball and soccer teams. And with scholarships, Advanced Placement credits and community college courses in the summers, the brothers graduated on time and with little debt.

‘The Common Thread Is Community’ 

The family was eager to express what makes Bradley special. They mentioned brilliant, caring faculty and Bradley’s connections with businesses, as well as its impact on greater Peoria.

“Bradley is the foundation for my family,” Cathy said. “It’s been a building block for opportunities and jobs.”

“Classes at Bradley prepared me,” Joe added. “If you do well here, you can compete with anyone. And it’s a tight-knit place. Even the way housing is assigned is carefully considered. The common thread is community.”

Refer a Student to Bradley

As a graduate or friend of the University, you are in the best position to discuss the Bradley Experience with prospective students. To arrange a tour for a prospective student, visit bradley.edu/CampusVisits. To refer a student online, visit bualum.org/ReferAStudent. Thank you for your support in bringing new Bradley Braves to campus. 

“It’s an emotional tie,” Adam noted. “I feel I have a stake in the University. I remember going to Bradley games as a kid — the connection is strong.” 

“We all went to the Jim Molinari basketball camps in the summer,” added Joe. “That’s how we fell in love with campus: Haussler Hall, the smell of the pool, the distinct wood smell of the historic Field House.”

Another shared Bradley experience is the enduring friendships each young man formed with classmates from around the world. All three have traveled extensively with their friends. Destinations have included New York City, India, Spain and Italy. Adam and Joe recently joined other alumni in Istanbul to celebrate the wedding of Ali Bora Usal ’07.

The Costello sons are quietly proud of their parents and the sacrifices they made to prepare them for and send them to college. They credit Cathy with supervising homework and projects and helping them stay on top of their schoolwork. Their admiration for their father — who completed college coursework while working full time — is evident, as well.

As for Dean, he is pleased with the bond his close-knit family has with the Hilltop. “It’s a strong, top-notch university with great faculty and Division I sports. We’re proud to be connected with Bradley.”

— By Mary Brolley
— Photography by Duane Zehr