Then: Forerunner of business education

The College of Business and Economics today is much different than its predecessor, commercial education.

From fringe curriculum to an international entity, the university’s business school was launched from humble beginnings, but is now considered by many to be a leader in business education.

Such as European CEO, who named UW-Whitewater’s online MBA, “the best remote learning program in North America.”

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business has also listed UW-Whitewater as an accredited business school since 1974.

Classes were first offered at UW-Whitewater in 1913 and focused on bookkeeping, typing and shorthand. The first graduating class had 37 students, 20 men and 17 women.

The following year enrollment increased to 311 and was 12 percent of the university’s enrollment, and by 1937 it was 537, 68 percent of enrollment.

For fall 2012, the Registrar’s Office reported that CoBE has 3,277 undergraduate students of the university’s 10,681.

The content of the courses catered mostly to young women looking to be secretaries, which made administrators uneasy about offering college credit for those classes.

Fast forward to the 1970s, where CoBE was still housed in the East wing of the Old Main, until it caught fire.

The college then moved to Carlson Hall in 1971 and earned the coveted AACSB accreditation, a few years later, which happened during former dean, Joe Domitrz’s, tenure. During his 25-year stay, Domitrz said the major changes on campus were the evolution of technology and attaining AACSB accreditation. UW-Whitewater was one of about only 200 institutions to do so at the time. As of July 2012, only 655 schools are accredited worldwide.

“AACSB certification was huge; it was very prestigious and denoted high quality, and now it’s a global organization.”

Associate Dean Janet Olson, who graduated from UW-Whitewater in 1977, said the concept of business education has changed over time as well. When she was a student, typing was viewed as a lower-level skill, but now it’s something most people use every day.

“The college has done a great job of staying on top of change,” Olson said. “Visiting alumni hardly recognize the place; some of us remember when Hyland was just a street.”

CoBE Dean Chris Clements said when Hyland Hall was being designed that exposing students and faculty to state-of-the-art technology was a priority. The college moved to Hyland Hall in 2009.

She said it’s not just technology that has changed over the years, but people as well.

“This is not the same school I came to in 1990; most of the faculty are gone now,” Clements said. “There’s a lot of vibrancy and more interaction with student organizations; I’d put our faculty up against anyone in the world.”