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Note Book

Winter 2005 • Volume 11, Issue 1

50 years at Bradley

by Gayle Erwin McDowell ’77

Jan WellsBobby socks and saddle shoes were the rage on campuses across America when Jan Wells’ career started in 1954. Only a handful of teenagers had heard of a singer named Elvis or a food called pizza. Fresh out of high school, Wells landed a job as a transcript clerk in the Registrar’s office at Bradley University.

Fast-forward 50 years, and you’ll find a youthful and energetic Jan Wells at her desk in the computer services department in Morgan Hall. Wells expects to retire in the near future, but it’s not the first time she’s said that. The Morton resident contemplated leaving in 1956 when she married her husband Mel. “I thought I was going to work for two years, and it turned into 50.”

Wells expected to become a full-time homemaker and mother. “Unfortunately the family didn’t come along, so I continued to work,” she explains. “I think I found the perfect spot to fill that void by working with the students. I guess you could say I have several extended families.” In the early years, Wells’ three sisters also worked for the University. “I feel it’s kept me much younger working here with students. It’s been fulfilling. Bradley’s been good to me.”

Wells recalls swimming after work in the pool in the basement of Hartmann and bowling at the Student Center. For a dollar, you could have your watch repaired at the horology building. “There were fewer buildings so it was more open. Institute Place ran through the center of campus.”
She fondly recalls her first boss, registrar Ruth Jass, for her loyalty and dedication to Bradley—traits for which Wells also has been known through the years. She remembers registration taking place in a tent during those early years, then being moved to the Field House. The process was streamlined when students began registering by phone, and even more so with the current online system.
As Wells eyes retirement, she and her husband plan to visit nephews around the U.S. and to extend their annual trek to Florida. She may work a few craft shows with her sisters. One thing that will never change, however, is her loyalty to the University and the couple’s enthusiasm for Bradley basketball.

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Then and now dorm rooms

by Linda Zink Forster ’74

Dorm room in 1974I sent a picture of my room in Williams Hall to the Chicago Tribune Home and Garden section in response to a request for photos of dorm rooms from the past. My father took the picture of me in my room that the Tribune used in its September 26, 2004 edition, on my graduation day in May 1974.

I have wonderful memories of living in Williams Hall. I had the same roommate for three years, a nursing student named Eileen Wade Renovard ’74. She introduced me to my husband Steve Forster ’74, a Bradley engineering student. We were married in August after we graduated.

Besides meeting my husband, I certainly have many good memories of living in Room 407. Mostly I remember meeting a lot of great people and sitting up late eating pizza and talking. We would discuss the issues of the day for hours long into the night. We had opinions on everything. It seems like it was very easy to have fun even with the pressures of classes. I remember making plans on the phone for parties, basketball games, even football games my freshman year. I remember looking out the window of Room 407 and seeing people walk by in the bright fashions of the 70s.

Dorm room nowMy friends and I met in my room every day to get ready to go down to dinner in the cafeteria. Every Saturday night we had steak. On weeknights the line for dinner formed right after Star Trek reruns were over. I am still friends with some of the people I met at Bradley.

Being in the Tribune article gave me a chance to think about special times. The “Then and Now Dorm Rooms” article shows that some things have changed about college, but much has stayed the same.

Linda and Steve Forster have four children. Linda is a legal assistant, and Steve is a television production engineer for Oprah Winfrey at Harpo Studios. They live in Hoffman Estates.

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