75 Years of Storytelling


Click here to view the publications’ covers for the past 75 years.

Do you recall a cover story or article in your university publication that affected you? If so, please share at bradley.edu/go/ht-editor.

How the world communicates has unquestionably evolved since the University produced its inaugural alumni magazine — now known as Bradley Hilltopics — in 1941. After exploring hundreds of bound editions, we take a fond look back at how the institution and the publication have undergone significant changes in the past 75 years. The Bradley family has a rich legacy of stories, one that will surely continue into the future.

Bradley Hilltopics’ Mission 

Bradley Hilltopics magazine places Bradley University and its alumni, faculty and students in a national and global context for its audience. The magazine educates, connects, cultivates and entertains readers with news about the University and important issues affecting the institution and the larger world. Bradley Hilltopics advances the University’s goal of achieving national distinction. 

The publication supports the University’s mission by:

  • Showcasing Bradley and the noteworthy accomplishments of its alumni, faculty and students.
  • Informing readers about innovative academic programming, academic research, and important campus news and events and on the University’s social media platform.
  • Communicating how the University is fulfilling its mission and how that mission impacts the community, the nation, and the world.
  • Strengthening and increasing connections between constituents and the University by reinforcing how the University’s mission of providing personal attention for its students translates into lifelong ties with its alumni and friends.


Introduced mere months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II, the magazine focused on news of the war and Bradley’s contributions to it. Chatty letters from service members and their wives in distant locations and reports on military training on campus kept alumni up to date. The magazine changed sizes and paper styles and went from publishing quarterly to 10 times a year. After the war, returning servicemen flocked to campus, filling classrooms and joining fraternities. Marriage announcements and the resulting Baby Boom’s birth notices took up an increasing number of pages.



Bradley’s enrollment growth and construction of new buildings continue to be chronicled. Faculty and staff moves are front-page news, as are appearances on campus by top entertainers and speakers, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Military activities are still major news, with stories featuring Bradley’s AFROTC unit and alumni serving in the U.S. and overseas. Printing 10 times a year, marriages and births continue to make up a sizable portion of the magazine. The highs and lows of Bradley athletics are showcased, complete with box scores for alumni living far from the Peoria area.



In 1963, the magazine led with news of a campus crisis. The fire that destroyed Bradley Hall that January stunned the Bradley family and spurred a vow — and an outpouring of help — to rebuild. Bradley students serving in Vietnam sent letters, and the magazine reported on students in training for the Peace Corps as well as teaching in the Head Start program. “Terry Hoag: A Profile in Excellence” described the straight-A senior and student body president from Fairmount, Ill., who would soon be named “Outstanding Cadet in the Nation.” Photos of Homecoming entertainers Louis Armstrong and Stan Getz graced the pages. As the decade ended, students protested library inadequacies and civil rights issues.



As the decade began, Hilltopics featured a change in campus leadership with the naming of President Dr. Martin “Jerry” Abegg ’47 HON ’93. Also noted were the kickoff of a capital campaign, along with the two new colleges created through restructuring. Communications and Fine Arts housed the departments of art, journalism, music, speech and theatre, and Health Sciences brought together the nursing and speech and hearing sciences departments. Sports coverage ranged from the disbanding of the varsity football program in 1970 to the celebration of standout player Chet Walker ’62 and decades of hoops success in 1976. 



The Dingledine Music Center — once a neighborhood church — graced the cover in 1983. Also chronicled: the basketball team’s victory at the NIT, the end of the venerable Field House, and the team’s move to the Peoria Civic Center. Other success stories included the forensics team’s triumph at the American Forensics Association college tournament, a new-and-improved general education curriculum and a pool of student applicants called “the best in the University’s history.” In tandem with the success of the Campaign for Bradley, whose donor list ran for pages, Heuser Art Center — “an arts center to rival any in Illinois” — was dedicated in December 1987.



Hilltopics transitioned from a tabloid published six times a year to a quarterly magazine in 1995. Features on faculty, alumni and students connected to major events and issues such as the Gulf War, the AIDS epidemic and the Olympics gave Bradley an increased global focus. Leading up to the University’s centennial celebration in 1997, Hilltopics ran a four-part series on Lydia Moss Bradley that explored her life, business acumen, the founding of Bradley Polytechnic Institute and her other philanthropic efforts. A commemorative centennial issue spotlighted Bradley’s history.



Features looked at a variety issues, including professors’ insights on the Electoral College, the recession and e-commerce; others highlighted alumni who’d made advances in medicine or found their dream jobs. As the country reeled from the impact of 9/11, and later, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, alumni offered reflections on their new reality. A special issue chronicled the thrill of the men’s basketball team advancing to the NCAA’s Sweet 16. And with a wraparound cover shot of its beautiful swimming pool, the Winter 2009 issue introduced the just-opened Markin Family Student Recreation Center, already a social hub for students.



In the first half of the decade, the magazine profiled alumni and faculty tackling important issues like aging and related diseases, along with global concerns such as human trafficking, poverty, food security, water scarcity and environmental threats. Also highlighted were students involved in Engineers Without Borders, working to bring clean water to a Guatemalan community. The speech team’s winning ways made them a cover subject in 2012, and cover stories on actor Neil Flynn ’82 and Oscar-winning makeup artist Tami Lane ’96 brought a touch of Hollywood to Bradley Hilltopics.

— By Bradley Hilltopics Staff