What Made You Choose Bradley?
What made me choose Bradley was a long history of interest in carpentry instilled in me by my father. Prior to my being born, my father was a high school wood shop teacher who designed and built our house. Growing up, I was always helping my dad do various projects around the house from minor repairs to building a full-blown addition. The interest in construction was always with me. Dad wanted me to go to a tech high school, but mom won the argument, and I went to a college prep high school instead.
Like everyone else, I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life, pick a major and a college. Civil engineering seemed to be the logical choice. And Bradley came highly recommended by one of my dad’s colleagues. I applied and was accepted but Peoria seemed a bit far from Connecticut. I decided to major in civil engineering at the University of New Hampshire instead.
After one year of a bunch of theory, I switched to their two-year program in construction technology, which was more practical, with an eye toward Bradley’s construction major. At the time, it was one of the few colleges with such a degree program. I reapplied and was accepted. Much to my surprise, it seemed like 40% of the students were from the East like me.
Going to Bradley was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The educational experience prepared me for various successful professions in construction, specialty fabrication and manufacturing throughout my career. I met the greatest people while there and we formed our own “floorternity.” We did everything that fraternities and sororities do, like intramurals, formals, social activities, etc. We even made it into the 1975 Anaga. To this day, 45-plus years later, we stay in touch and have semi-occasional reunions. I can only wonder what my life would have been like if I had gone to Bradley right out of high school. Thanks Bradley!
— Steve Comeau ’75
I chose Bradley because it was out of state from where I lived in Maryland and I thought there would be skiing while I was there.
— Gretchen Fornoff Hyneckeal ’67
Growing up Hartsdale and Scarsdale, both New York City suburbs, I wanted to try a new area. American University in Washington, D.C., and Bradley accepted me, but I liked the casual atmosphere at Bradley. When I visited as a high school senior, I asked to sit in any class and was quickly accommodated at Bradley; at American, the same request took half a day!
As a student, I never really appreciated the life lessons I received until well after graduation: the bond of brothers at Pi Kappa Alpha, study help, parties, outreach into Peoria, wonderful friends and an amazing experience.
I spent four years with The Bradley Scout, serving as business manager my senior year; it gave me an incredible experience running a multifaceted business. Bradley basketball, gondolas at Avanti’s, sorority mixers, girl watching on the Quad and all-nighters. Some were fun like parties and others not so much, like finals!
Overall, Bradley gave me the confidence to reach out for whatever I wanted in life. I’m in sales and my family includes my wife, Meryl; and my sons, Douglas, a UCLA grad now applying to doctoral programs; and Scott, who attended Arizona State University.
— Alan Meyer ’71
I chose Bradley because it had a walkable, compact campus. You didn’t need a bicycle or on-campus shuttle bus to get to class like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The size of the undergraduate population closely matched the one at my high school. Since it was only a three-and-a-half-hour drive from the Chicago suburbs, it was easy to get home for the holidays.
The engineering college’s reputation and the work-study co-op program available to engineering students were also important. Working at a Chicago company allowed me to earn a little money, apply what I learned on campus to the real-world work I’d do after graduation. This resulted in my first job at the same company where I had been in the co-op program the previous four years. I landed that job during the 1971 recession when all the job offers I’d received as a graduating senior in the fall had been rescinded by spring. Those were the most important reasons. However, before I started college, I attended a two-week summer camp for high school seniors at Bradley, sponsored by JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society). I lived in a dorm with a roommate, attended classes conducted by engineering professors in the morning and took bus tours to Peoria-area companies (WABCO, CAT) after lunch. Some days we did lab experiments. On weekends, I wandered around the area.
After visiting several other engineering colleges, Bradley was the only school I applied to and was glad I’d gotten accepted! Attending that summer program was the clincher. Since I graduated, the campus has expanded and swallowed the three blocks between old University St. and Bourland Ave., where I lived off-campus since there were no upper class dorms for men at the time. The civil engineering students used to practice surveying on these three blocks.
— Ralph Dellar ’71
In 1970, after the Kent State spring of 1969 shooting, I wanted to go to UC Berkeley, but my father set the boundary line at the Mississippi River. Bradley was the best school I could find east of the Mississippi. I knew of Bradley after watching them play basketball at the NIT in Madison Square Garden.
— Jeffrey Greenfield ’74
Looking back through the veils of time, two reasons why I chose Bradley jump out: Bradley’s graduation requirements detailed a well-rounded education. Besides my major classes, I needed to fulfill 12 hours in each of three basic areas. Bradley’s size was conducive to a greater involvement with the university. From class size to social situations, Bradley was perfect for me. In the 55 years since my graduation, my Bradley experience has served me well. It gave me a base to progress professionally, as well as skills to interface with all nationalities, races and creeds.
— William M. Russell ’66
I chose Bradley because Bradley chose me. I had never been east of Pennsylvania, so Peoria was another world. I heard about Bradley through basketball. It was the best decision of my life. I met my wife, Randi Viner Zacher ’73, and other lifelong friends.
— David Zacher ’72
I grew up in Dayton, Ohio. During the college selection process, my Dad stated one non-negotiable requirement. The school had to be one he could drive to in one day or less. I wanted to major in mechanical engineering at a smaller school; I also wanted to get out of the house. I sent applications to the obvious choices: University of Dayton and University of Cincinnati. I had never heard of Bradley University. The day I took the SAT test I also purchased a college guidebook. That’s where I learned about Bradley and decided to apply.
I received acceptance letters from all three schools. Bradley won since it satisfied my top two parameters and met my Dad’s requirement. I lucked out!! Bradley was (and still is) a great school academically, and it was a great college experience.
— George Bondor Jr. ’69
The Vietnam War was raging, and rather than be a draft-eligible auto mechanic (my teenage dream job) or learn to speak Canadian, a college deferment was in order. As a Regents Scholarship winner, going to school in my home state of New York would have been much less expensive. And my other college choice was a long bus ride through the snow belt at an all-male college where they allowed smoking in the classroom. But I’d never flown on an airplane or been farther west than Pennsylvania, and I wanted to spread my wings.
Peoria was then the 100th largest city in the U.S.; it was also far enough away that my parents wouldn’t visit, but I could get back east without too much trouble. Midwest farmers’ daughters, smoke-free air, a chance to study automotive engineering and be in a small city led Bradley to become my first choice.
However, the real reason I wound up at Bradley was because in my high school, students were assigned to guidance counselors alphabetically. Mine was a lovely woman who had the first three letters of the alphabet. The week before my college planning guidance session, Bradley sent recruiter Gary Bergman to my school. He was a six-foot-two Nordic god, and he charmed Miss Bracca into sending one of her A’s and two of her B’s to Bradley.
— Jeff Annis ’76
Bradley was far enough away from home but close enough for me to go home if and when I needed. Bradley also had some students from my high school that attended, but not as many as some other nearby schools. I was able to explore new and different activities that I hadn’t in high school. I chose Bradley because I wanted a teaching degree from an Illinois school so I could give back to an area near where I grew up.
— Robin Teplitz Leven ’94
I took one step into the Hartmann Center and I just KNEW this was home!
— Melanie Ann Apel ’90
Disappointment With Obituary Coverage
The Passages section of the fall 2021 issue of Bradley magazine mentioned the passing of a former Bradley professor, Dr. Henry Helenek. The article stated he was “associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.” This statement grossly understates Dr. Helenek’s tenure at Bradley.
I earned my B.S. in geological science at Bradley. If this major sounds strange to you, well, it should. Bradley management made an extremely ill-advised decision in the late ’90s to eliminate the geological sciences department. This department, which consisted of Drs. Gorman, Foster and Helenek, was a leading baccalaureate-level geology department, which sent many of its graduates to continue on to graduate-level geology/geological science degrees, including me.
Dr. Helenek was a graduate of the City College of New York, and earned a doctorate in geology from Brown University. His specialty, and the topics he taught in the department, were primarily the origin and composition of metamorphic and igneous rocks. We geology students referred to that discipline as “hard-rock geology,” as opposed to “soft-rock geology,” which was the origin and distribution of sedimentary rocks and the ancient life forms often preserved as fossils within those rocks.
The bulk of Dr. Helenek’s time at Bradley was his association with the Department of Geological Sciences; associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry was where management-types placed highly qualified individuals like Helenek when they eliminate their departments. Dr. Foster, for example, was a graduate of UC Berkeley, and had a doctorate from Harvard University in paleontology. Dr. Foster was a leader in brachiopod research and led research activities in unusual, soft-bodied creatures that inhabited the ancient seas in what is now central Illinois.
It is so disappointing to realize the institutional knowledge of a geology department at Bradley has all but evaporated. It’s as if the university doesn’t want to acknowledge the prior existence of the department, a point I make when through no fault of their own, clueless, young Bradley undergrads call me asking for financial support.
I am so sorry and saddened this remarkable, incredibly accomplished, Ivy League graduate would be mentioned as an after-thought in the university magazine.
— Timothy M. Bryan ’80
Remembering A Beloved Professor
I was saddened to read in the fall 2021 edition of Bradley magazine of the passing of John Sathoff, past chair of the physics department. Dr. Sathoff taught me two semesters of Introduction to Physics during my first year at Bradley. He was such an engaging and personable instructor and provided such positive feedback that when I was a struggling electrical engineering major at the end of my sophomore year, I wrote him a letter over the summer asking if I could change my major to physics.
He immediately replied with a personal letter that warmly welcomed me to the department and laid out a course of instruction to keep me on track to complete my studies. That following fall, I began two of my most academically rewarding undergraduate years at Bradley studying with Drs. Early, Kenney, Freim, Moore and Stutz; those classes laid the foundation for my future success.
I recently retired from the U.S. Department of the Interior after 41 years of working in the area of ocean energy and mineral development, culminated by building the regulatory framework for the development of the renewable energy industry in the offshore U.S. I have worked with scientists and engineers in government, academia, and industry across the world and attribute my success to the excellent grounding provided primarily by the Bradley physics faculty and those in math and earth science.
However, I reserve my greatest appreciation for Dr. Sathoff. He warmly welcomed me to the department and provided critical guidance at an indeterminate stage in a young man’s life. He, indeed, made me feel special. Looking back at the notice, I now realize at that time he was only about 43 years old and close to the beginning of his 30 years as department chair. He most likely helped innumerable other students in his career.
— Darryl K. François ’77
In the previous edition’s feedback about favorite places to eat around campus, Ed Staley ’70 documented that I ate at Hunt’s Drive-in “EVERY-day” and “bought a new Buick every year.” Please permit me to round off the rough edges of his story. Commuting to Bradley each day from 10 miles across the river, I ate lunch every school day at Hunt’s following my 10-minute sportscast at 12:10 on WRBU campus radio.
The overflowed-the bun sandwich Ed recalled was Hunt’s signature pork tenderloin, a treat for me with fries Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The Tuesday-Thursday entrée was the Mr. Boca two-patty hamburger with cheese and sauce (think deluxe Big Mac) and onion rings. Under the watchful eyes of owner Jordan Hunt, the food and service were consistently superb. I was never late to my customary 1:10 class.
Following afternoon classes on four days each week plus weekends, I re-crossed the river to the Washington, Ill., Kroger store to work as a stock boy and cashier. As for the Buicks, I only purchased two of them: a ’67 Skylark later upgraded to a ’68 Wildcat. In those days, a stock boy’s salary easily paid for Bradley tuition and a nice car.
Ed also mentioned our Air Force careers. His ended in 1992, and I served until late 1999, retiring as a full colonel. Our paths never crossed.
As for this issue’s “The Big Question,” I chose Bradley for one overwhelming reason: BASKETBALL! I was already a fan from listening to games on the radio and reading about the team in the newspaper. I attended my first game in the memorable Robertson Memorial Field House at age 10. What an atmosphere! I thought, “Someday, I want to be a real part of this.” Earnings from a paper route and working at Kroger paid for many more games in person, including season tickets during my last two years of high school. Why would I ever want to be at another college and miss 15 Bradley home games each year? Besides, what did a high schooler know about college academics, quality of instruction at various universities, etc.? I was just hoping to go to a college where I could earn a degree.
But that’s only half the story. At freshman orientation in 1965, Tom Herr ’66 uttered words that would change my life forever. “Gentleman, welcome to Bradley University … we all have a six-year military obligation,” (a combination of active duty and reserve service). As a 17-year-old, four months shy of mandatory registration for the military draft, his statement was a total shock. Indeed, the draft was a fact of life in the mid 1960’s, and the war in Vietnam was escalating exponentially.
Tom was a senior cadet in Bradley’s Air Force ROTC and the incoming cadet commander for the fall semester. He explained the merits of pursuing an Air Force commission through ROTC: two years of the obligation could be fulfilled at Bradley with enough pay for a semester and a half of tuition; 16 credit hours, equal to a full semester toward graduation; and no permanent commitment until your junior year, you could drop out any time until then. Why not give it a try?
Thirty-four years and a month later, I retired from the Air Force and never had another full-time job. Ironically, Paul Novak ’69 and I performed Tom’s role at orientation the next two summers. To have achieved a college degree and a commission in the Air Force, as well as having the good fortune to broadcast all the home basketball games for four years on WRBU campus radio exceeded all my expectations when I chose to enroll at Bradley. And, it all started in 1957 with my strong appreciation for Bradley basketball.
Note to editor: Surprisingly, I was written about twice in the last issue. Not only the submission for Ed Staley, but also the entry where Pat Barron ’69 and I bumped into Ellen Milnor Barron M.A. ’81 and the woman who became my wife of 51 years, Janet Siegel ’71.
— Greg Florey ’69