| School of Business - Bits of History
"This year, 1986, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first class of graduates from St. Bonaventure's business program. Thus the School of Business has had an uninterrupted life of fifty-four years. I say uninterrupted life because an attempt had been made in 1919 to start a degree program in commerce but it failed after a few years. That year saw the first listing of commercial courses at St. Bonaventure other than those offered in its high school curriculum. Taught by a faculty of three, these were Commercial Law, Typing, Shorthand (two years), Geography of Commerce, History of Commerce, and Bookkeeping (two years). The next year there were only two instructors but in 1921 the Department of Insurance and Finance and the Commercial Department were created and the degree of Bachelor of Accounting was established. Only one faculty member, Leo Minton, was listed then and he rejoiced in the all-encompassing title of Professor of Economics, Sociology, Physics, and Biology!
"At the same time the course offerings took on a more modern look. They were – Bookkeeping, Auditing, Cost Keeping, Practical Accounting Systems, Corporations, Credits, Investments, Bookkeeping Problems, and Advanced Economics. The following year there were ten students and two faculty. In 1923, there were only four students and three faculty and the program became an extension program and was expanded to include Applied Economics, Markets and Prices, Corporation Finance, Advertising and Life Insurance. Despite this change, student enrollment dropped and there were no course listings after 1923 and no students after 1924. No degrees were ever granted.
"Perhaps this attempt at a School of Business broadened the horizons of the college administration because, in 1929, St. Bonaventure College entered the railroad business. The school had laid a half mile of track in 1891 to provide a spur line to bring in its coal supplies and then, in 1929, it bought a small locomotive from the bankrupt Olean Railway Company and had it reconditioned at the Pennsylvania Railroad’s shop in Olean. Father Christopher Hee, then the school’s purchasing agent, became the engineer and Father Thomas Plassmann became the President of the St. Bonaventure Railroad! Coal was delivered on campus until 1947 when the rails were torn up to permit the construction of a maintenance building. Meanwhile, Father Thomas had greatly enjoyed the use of the railroad pass which was, at the time, given to all railroad presidents in the nation and was fond of remarking that his railroad, although the shortest of them all, was as wide as any of them!"
Excerpted from: "The School of Business Administration St. Bonaventure University The First Half-Century"
by Prof. Austin L. Finan
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