School of Business - Bits of History
Although only four B. B. A. degrees were awarded in June of 1937, growth continued with the addition of James L . Hayes to the faculty and the creation of the Department of Secretarial Science. This department was designed to permit graduates to meet the state requirements for certification as teachers of Secretarial Science in secondary schools and offered Business English and Business Mathematics, Typing, Shorthand and Secretarial Practice. There were six graduates in Accounting and Business Administration in 1938.
1938-1939 was notable for four things. First, Father Fergus Fitzsimmons became the Chairman of the Commerce Group. (There was to be no Dean until 1948, hence no department chairmen, but those of us teaching during this period used the titles of Dean and department chairman routinely among ourselves and this practice was accepted by the rest of the college community.)
Second, an unbelievable total of thirteen degrees were awarded. Third, of these degrees, two were gained by the first female graduates in Commerce, Sister M. Gervase McCarthy, O.S.B., and Sister M. Louis Morkin, O.S.B. Although it did not seem surprising at the time, it seems remarkable now that the first women graduates should have been nuns since of the many hundreds of graduates since then only a half dozen or so have been nuns. Fourth, for the first time, there was no tinkering with curriculum, course offerings or requirements!
1940-1941 produced 18 graduates and Father Fidelis O'Rourke replaced Father Fergus as Professor of Commerce and Chairman of the Commerce group. This marked the beginning of change and a new feeling about the place of the business program and the manner of achieving its goals. Father Fidelis had been a successful practicing lawyer until he entered the Franciscan Order at the age of 39 and he brought with him a knowledge of business and an outlook which had been missing before. He led faculty rather than commanding them. Fifteen went to New York in search of faculty since he had only one year of teaching experience, James Hayes had three and Father John L. Rowan had one in Secretarial Science and the rest of the faculty for one reason or another were not returning.
Father's hunting expedition netted him three new faculty members, Austin L. Finan with two years of college teaching behind him, S. John Guson with two years of accounting practice and James L. Cullather, a recent Wharton School graduate. All were listed in the catalog as Instructors but the contracts of the first two were as Assistant Professors. The reader may wonder at this time but things were more casual in those days. For instance, an Assistant Professor (not of the Business faculty) growing tired of his rank asked the Dean's secretary to cross out the word Assistant in her work copy for the new catalog. She obligingly did so and he was listed as a full professor for the rest of his stay at St. Bonaventure!
Excerpted from: "The School of Business Administration St. Bonaventure University The First Half-Century"
by Prof. Austin L. Finan
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