Rockford Business College to hold reunion

Rockford Business College, long a fixture in Rockford through various changes over the years, is getting ready to celebrate.

The school will hold a reunion for all graduates Saturday, Feb. 26, at Hoffman House, 7550 E. State St., Rockford. Cost is $24 per person. Send your check to Reunion/RBC, 730 N. Church St., Rockford, IL 61103. Reservations are due Feb. 18.

The school, founded in 1855, joined the system of Brown’s Business College in 1892 and was under this highly respected administration until 1942, when the Rockford School of Business was established. An engineering component was added in 1963. In 1945, Ernest Black and Darlene Heller took over as proprietors. They ran the school until a teacher shortage and financial crisis put them up against the wall. In 1967, they sold out to Midstate College of Commerce of Peoria, administered by the Bunch family.

The school was under this administration until 1971, when it became part of the Flick-Reedy Corporation of Bensenville, run by Frank Flick. In 1977, Rockford Business College officially became an incorporated division of the Frank Flick Education Centers, a subsidiary corporation.

In 1981, the nonprofit Education Development Corporation was formed with the intent to purchase Rockford Business College. It was hoped this would put the college in better position to receive funding such as government grants. Also at this time, the Illinois State Board of Higher Education gave its approval for the college to grant associate degrees in secretarial sciences, accounting and business administration.

Graduates reminisce

Chris Hagger graduated in 1998 with an associate in applied sciences and a degree in management and marketing. “Rockford Business College was the foundation of my college experience,” he said. “It was a wonderful school. I was glad to be a part of it. They have wonderful teachers—Mr. Dorsey, Mrs. Gibson. I had a couple classes with Mr. [Jeffrey] Swanberg and his wife [Christine]… I made special friends with the faculty. I can always go there and visit and discuss things with them.” One highlight he recalls: “I participated in a mock trial—that’s almost like having a trial, but the legal students acted as lawyers, and I was a juror.”

As for the total school experience, he said, “It prepared me as far as fundamentals of management principles to utilize on the job as a supervisor.” He is presently warehouse supervisor at SuperValu Corporation in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., a position he has held for almost a year.

Foreign students enroll

Karn Mejudhon graduated in 1976. He took a one-year vocational class in the airline and travel business. Originally from Bangkok, Thailand, he enrolled in a two-year course in airline business. “I knew that I wanted to come here and spend a year in additional education in the travel business,” he said. After graduating, I got an opportunity to work for a local travel agency, Lindstrom Travel. I was an intern with them for about five months.” After graduating, he asked for a position as a travel agent. He worked for the agency for about 11 years, part time.

He believes the course was a great benefit in his work. “It certainly helped me with communication skills in the U.S. and interacting with people,” he said. “It has helped me get into a management position at the factory [LKG Industries]. We are a manufacturer and importer of electronic accessories such as TV cable.” He believes that at the time he enrolled in the college (1975), it was the first year they had a group of foreign students attending. “I was one of the first,” he recalls with pride.

Christine M. Lott graduated in 1996 with degrees in business administration/management and business marketing, both two-year courses. “I liked the local atmosphere, at they were local teachers and students,” she said. “Jeff and Christine Swanberg were very instrumental—good people who have truly enriched a lot of people’s lives, not just mine.”

The road to division manager

Ray Matlock (1988) graduated with an associate degree in accounting, business administration and marketing. He is now a deputy at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. He said: “I didn’t want to major in accounting, but I was taking an accounting course, and after a while… you are so many credits away from an accounting degree. The instructor, Arlen Harris, [told me] that I was doing very well in accounting, and I should consider making that one of my majors. At the same time, he encouraged me to start an accounting club at the college. Before I knew it, I ended up with a degree in accounting.

“One of their [RBC] slogans was, ‘You dress for success, and you feel as good as you look.’ That was in Mr. Swanberg’s SOS [Student Orientation for Success] class. Every student had to take this class. The mock interview really helped me get the jobs that I was able to have in my career… That was also in the business SOS class.

“By far, my favorite instructors were Mr. Swanberg and Mr. Smith. They have a great influence on my life. I have always been a proud student of Rockford Business College, and every opportunity I get, I promote it. They really had a lot of influence on my career today.

“When I was about to graduate, Rockford Business College offered me a recruiting position, and at the same time, I had a job offer from Williams & McCarthy, the largest law firm in town. I actually went over there to apply for a mail room position. I figured I would look for at least a part-time job… Sue Short was job placement director at RBC, and she encouraged me to go over there and brush up on my interview skills. They teach you how to do the research on these companies. When you go in, you should know what this company is all about—that it’s the largest corporate law firm in Rockford. So I went in well prepared, and a couple days later, I got a phone call from them. The office manager said, ‘We could offer you the mail room position, but I would like to offer you a position as legal assistant for four and a half years.’ Then I was in the bankruptcy court doing some research, and they had a position offered, and I applied here. I started off as one of their public service clerks; then I went to case administration and did some financial work. Then I clerked for two years and then became division manager.”

The schedule for the Feb. 26 reunion is: social hour, 5:30-6:30 p.m.; dinner, 6:30-7:30 p.m.; reminisce, 7:30-8:30 p.m. For more information, call RBC at (815) 965-8616.

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