What is the most significant change you’ve seen at Bradley?
Cannon: The change from Bradley Polytechnic Institute to a university. We used to get letters from the horology department, asking us to send our watches for repairs. The same with automobiles. Students would fix our cars for nothing more than the cost of parts. That was helpful on our small salaries.
Hartman: Another change is the death of football and the rise of soccer at Bradley and the excellent program we now have under Coach Jim DeRose. They’ve played in a couple of NCAA tournaments and a couple of former students are playing in Major League Soccer.
Penelton: Then you have all the physical changes. Every one of us can walk through the campus and see major changes.
Carter: A remarkable change has been in technology. In my field of English, I can remember vividly when we opened the first computer composition classroom back in the 1980s. We had the mainframe over in Holmes Hall. Our composition classroom was on the third floor of Bradley Hall. We had a phone in an office across the hall. I would call for help, and the technicians would come right over.
Hartman: Another important change has been the emphasis on the role of teams or groups and on students working on projects with community service organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and for-profit organizations. In the Foster College of Business Administration, we have a one-hour course in team dynamics. If students can’t work effectively in teams, they’re often not going to be hired in industry, because so much work in industry and other organizations is done in the team mode. I’ve noticed this emphasis has evolved over the last decade and a half.
Carter: I remember when our business communications course began to use team writing, some of the old-timers were really quizzical about that. “Team writing? How can you give credit to one individual if you’ve got a whole team working on a project?” Of course, the rationale is that in the workplace, they are going to be writing in teams.
Wessler: Looking at changes from the standpoint of the institution, Bradley’s emphasis now on research on the part of faculty is significantly greater than it was during my experience.
Hartman: In business, in order to maintain accreditation, we need to meet certain research expectations. We had to ratchet it up during the 1970s to get initial accreditation in 1978, and now to maintain that level of accreditation, research is a necessity.
Carter: One of the things that began to happen at Bradley in the past six or seven years is an emphasis on faculty-student research, and I think that’s marvelous. I could see right away how this would work in the sciences and in engineering, but then I realized it would work in literary studies, as well.
Penelton: In education, one of the major changes has been the external influence in the curriculum. As we prepare and develop curriculum, we are bound by state requirements, by the Illinois State Board of Education and by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. They are all very influential in the kind of curriculum delivered because of the kind of credentialing that is necessary. These external agencies influencing the accreditation of teachers make for major changes in curriculum and the delivery of that curriculum. In addition to the professional societies, organizations like the Council for Exceptional Children, and organizations that accredit for early childhood and special education, also influence the curriculum. The curriculum is constantly reviewed to get in line with and be consistent with what the state and national requirements are and to prepare students for licensing exams.
Wessler: I was back in the classroom this past semester for the first time since I retired in 1997. I taught a course because a faculty member took medical leave. I came in a week after school had begun and it was a real challenge. This was a more advanced course and was the second in a two-semester sequence. If it had been the first, I could have just taken the book and kept ahead of everybody, but that wasn’t possible in this instance. I had to shake a lot of cobwebs loose, but I had a ball. One of the biggest changes, that has altered my approach to teaching, is that students today have access to a variety of digital devices, plus the Internet, that enables them to turn in homework with the right answer, but without having learned the principles applied to achieve a solution. I have struggled to find ways to get students on track to really understand the fundaments and to use that understanding to solve problems.
Beyond the blackboard
Whether it be a serene and shady patch of grass on the quad or a colorful and boisterous gym during a basketball game, everyone who has spent time on Bradley’s campus has a favorite spot.
Dr. Allen Cannon says Constance Hall is his favorite place on campus. “Why not? I spend enough hours there!” he jokes. “If you haven’t seen the building recently, you wouldn’t recognize it,” he says, referring to a renovation and addition project completed in 2002 in Constance Hall that includes 4,000 square feet of additional space consisting of multi-media classrooms, a piano laboratory, an electronic computer music laboratory, piano preparatory school studios, and much more. “They kept the original look. No one would ever know there was an addition because they scouted the country for bricks from the 1930s that would match the original bricks. There is so much more room now, within the same confines,” he says.
“My favorite place is no longer the same,” says Dr. Peggy Carter MA ’50. “It was the fourth floor lounge of Bradley Hall. We don’t call it a lounge anymore; we call it a conference room. I used to go there on the weekends, sit by the windows, and look out on the quad. It would be so quiet, and I’d read and plan for the week.”
“The quad is my favorite place,” says Dr. Barbara Penelton. “Whenever I was trying to work through a question or problem, there was always someone on this campus who I was close enough to that I could say ‘Meet me on the quad,’ and we’d walk and talk about whatever the issue was at hand. Good weather or bad weather, rain or snow, we’d walk the quad.”
“During the first half of my career, my favorite place to be was Robertson Memorial Field House during a Bradley basketball game,” says Dr. Max Wessler ’52. “Today, it’s Jobst 306 where I teach my class.”
“My favorite place,” says Dr. Dick Hartman ’54, “was my office where all my books were and where I could meet with my students and colleagues.”