For the Love of the Red and White

Reflecting on her eight years as the 10th and first female president of Bradley University, Joanne Glasser said she enjoyed working with members of the community on common goals to move the University forward. “The people are the heart of this wonderful institution — accomplished and inspiring professors who care deeply about their talented and engaged students, dedicated and hardworking staff, and alumni who take immense pride in their alma mater.”

Progress during Glasser’s presidency ranged from enhancing academic excellence, to transforming the west side of campus, to beautifying the Hilltop and more. “Having required a collaborative, cohesive and committed effort, these achievements are shared by many members of our University,” Glasser said. For example, the University has enrolled the best academic classes on record as measured by ACT scores. In addition, 104 new scholarships were established with more than $15 million raised. A record University endowment of $293.7 million was reached in 2014.

In recent years, Bradley has seen an improvement in its U.S.News and World Report rankings among Midwest Regional Universities and has been recognized for excellence by numerous national publications.

The University had its accreditation reaffirmed by the Higher Learning Commission in 2010. The 2012–17 Strategic Plan also was developed under Glasser’s leadership. 

Another successful initiative included the recent passing of the Bradley Core Curriculum — the first major revision to the general education program in more than three decades. In keeping with the changing landscape of higher education and Bradley’s commitment to create and maintain a welcoming, supportive and safe environment for all members of the community, a Title IX role was created with assistance across campus. Additionally, the role of executive director of diversity and inclusion was created through the restructuring of a position.

Names of Distinction and Academic Progress

Acknowledging a decades-long history of support for the University, Glasser announced the naming of the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology.

She also oversaw the development of two nationally distinctive schools during her time on the Hilltop, beginning with the creation of the Robert and Carolyn Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, recognizing Robert Turner ’77 MBA ’78 and his wife for their endowed gift. The first of its kind in the nation to be a stand-alone academic unit, The Turner School offers students across all five colleges an opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills and innovative thinking in classroom and experiential settings. Most recently, she celebrated the gift from Charley Steiner ’71 HON ’10 to the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts — The Charley Steiner School of Sports Communication, the nation’s first named sports communication school. 

“My greatest pride shines through the accomplishments of our bright and passionate students.”

Also a first, the Mund-Lagowski Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry — the first time in the history of the University that a department was named — honors Dr. Jean Mund-Lagowski ’51 MS ’52 and her late husband, Dr. Joseph Lagowski. Also endowed, the Theresa S. Falcon Executive MBA program, named for the late Dr. Theresa Falcon-Cullinan, MBA ’05, is the first in the world named for a woman by a woman. 

To support scholarly pursuits and to educate students for the ever-evolving marketplace, numerous undergraduate majors, minors and concentrations were created across all five colleges. The University most recently launched an initiative to offer online graduate programs in nursing and counseling. In addition, a significant number of graduate programs and certificates were established during Glasser’s tenure. Several 3 + 2 and 4 + 1 programs leading to both baccalaureate and master’s degrees also were established.

Other academic accomplishments include the creation of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning (CTEL) and the Fulbright Advisory Group. Bradley ranked sixth nationally among universities of its type for Fulbright student recipients in 2013–14. The University’s highly regarded academic Honors Program has been enhanced to enrich the experience of Bradley’s top students. The first cohort of students from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program graduated during Glasser’s presidency.

Among the academic centers established were the Pre-Law Center, the Inland Visual Studies Center, the Center for STEM Education (science, technology, engineering and math), the Center for Collaborative Brain Research and the Pre-Professional Health Advisory Center.

Glasser also was involved in Bradley’s bid to secure prestigious NBC Olympics internships for communication majors alongside students from several top-tier institutions. Bradley students served as interns for both the 2012 Summer Olympics
in London and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Building the Future

With the support of the Bradley community and friends of the University, Glasser successfully completed the University’s largest comprehensive capital campaign. The Campaign for a Bradley Renaissance far surpassed its goal, bringing in more than $161 million to change the face of campus, beginning with the 2009 dedication of the $30 million Markin Family Student Recreation Center and a 600-car parking deck on Main Street. The $50 million Renaissance Coliseum, a 4,200-seat home for women’s basketball and volleyball and the basketball practice facility, was completed in 2010. The $12 million Hayden-Clark Alumni Center earned LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and Westlake Hall, the second-oldest building on campus, was renovated and expanded to six times its original size, earning LEED Gold certification.

Extensive landscaping projects followed, enhancing the new structures. A newly created Alumni Quad and the entire campus benefited from numerous beautification projects, including colorful flower gardens and distinctive banners outlining campus.

Efforts toward a sustainable campus have moved forward with recycling and other initiatives. Over the past five years, the amount of material recycled on Bradley’s campus has increased tenfold. 

Defining the Bradley Experience 

Glasser introduced the student body to Late Night BU in 2008. An alcohol-free social destination featuring free food and fun, the program continues to be popular, attended by an average of 1,500 students at each event.

With a desire to build on an earlier tradition and to infuse a sense of Bradley pride in incoming classes, the University reinstated Freshman Convocation in 2010. Glasser also hosted freshmen at President’s Night Out for Bradley Braves soccer at Shea Stadium. To recognize students who have shown leadership potential during their first semester on campus, the University initiated the Rising Star Dinner. 

In another Bradley first, Glasser held monthly office hours to engage with students individually and learn about their accomplishments and concerns. From academics to career advice and more, students received personal attention. In addition to office hours, Glasser said, “Among my favorite memories of the Hilltop will always be my sidewalk chats with our wonderful students and faculty. Another favorite is describing the Bradley Experience.”

To further enhance the student experience on campus, additional construction projects were undertaken. The Stacks Café was added to the Cullom-Davis Library, offering a comfortable environment for reading and socializing. The Hillel House was renovated and expanded, as was Geisert Hall’s dining center. 

In an effort to promote school spirit, Glasser oversaw the creation of new athletic marks including the distinctive “B,” in addition to Kaboom!, the University’s mascot.

A comprehensive emergency preparedness plan was implemented, including text messaging and an audible alert system. With campus safety a priority, security has been significantly upgraded, including the addition of two Hilltop Safety Cruiser minivans.

Community Relations 

Glasser fostered positive community relations throughout her time in Peoria. Among her many volunteer activities, she often shared her passion for education by reading to children at local schools. A two-time cancer survivor during her tenure, she was named Honorary Chair of Peoria’s 25th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in 2010.

‘Honored to Serve’ 

Believing it is an honor to serve this esteemed University, Glasser said it best in her own heartfelt words: “My greatest pride shines through the accomplishments of our bright and passionate students. The gift of education never ceases to provide opportunity.”

Amy Turk ’97, Bradley University Alumni Association (BUAA) immediate past president, said, “Joanne Glasser exuded commitment to Bradley in everything she did; I feel privileged to have served during her time on the Hilltop. I have never
seen a president so involved and concerned about the students and their well-being.” 

According to past BUAA President Brian Miller ’79, “During her presidency, Joanne Glasser provided a transforming vision and path to energize and engage pride-filled alumni. We will miss her personal connection with the alumni community; we are sorry to see her go.” 

Glasser said she looks forward to hearing about future achievements that build on these shared successes and new opportunities to advance the University. Her love for the Hilltop, passion for the Bradley family and dedication to the Bradley Experience will be missed. 

— Photography by Duane Zehr