Bradley University

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Bradley University
Bradley University Seal Black.png
Type Private university
Established1897;124 years ago (1897)
Academic affiliations
Endowment $324.9 million (2020) [1]
President Stephen Standifird
Provost Walter Zakahi
Academic staff
Undergraduates 4,636 [2]
Postgraduates 1,293 [2]
Location, ,
United States

40°41′53″N89°37′01″W / 40.6981°N 89.6169°W / 40.6981; -89.6169 Coordinates: 40°41′53″N89°37′01″W / 40.6981°N 89.6169°W / 40.6981; -89.6169
CampusUrban, 84 acres (340,000 m2)
Colors    Red & white
Nickname Braves
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IMVC
Mascot"Kaboom!" the gargoyle
Bradley University logo rgb Left.svg

Bradley University is a private university in Peoria, Illinois. Founded in 1897, Bradley University enrolls 5,400 students who are pursuing degrees in more than 100 undergraduate programs and more than 30 graduate programs in five colleges. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and 22 specialized and professional accreditors. [3]



Bradley Hall is one of the first buildings constructed for the university and bears the name of the university's founder. Bradley U Bradley Hall.jpg
Bradley Hall is one of the first buildings constructed for the university and bears the name of the university's founder.

The Bradley Polytechnic Institute was founded by philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley in 1897 in memory of her husband Tobias and their six children, all of whom died early and suddenly, leaving Bradley a childless widow. The Bradleys had discussed establishing an orphanage in memory of their deceased children. After some study and travel to various institutions, Mrs. Bradley decided instead to found a school where young people could learn how to do practical things to prepare them for living in the modern world. As a first step toward her goal, in 1892 she purchased a controlling interest in Parsons Horological School in LaPorte, Indiana, the first school for watchmakers in America, and moved it to Peoria. She specified in her will that the school should be expanded after her death to include a classical education as well as industrial arts and home economics: " being the first object of this Institution to furnish its students with the means of living an independent, industrious and useful life by the aid of a practical knowledge of the useful arts and sciences."

In October 1896 Mrs. Bradley was introduced to Dr. William Rainey Harper, president of the University of Chicago. He soon convinced her to move ahead with her plans and establish the school during her lifetime. Bradley Polytechnic Institute was chartered on November 13, 1896. Mrs. Bradley provided 17.5 acres (71,000 m2) of land, $170,000 for buildings, equipment, and a library, and $30,000 per year for operating expenses.

Contracts for Bradley Hall and Horology Hall (now Westlake) were awarded in April and work moved ahead quickly. Fourteen faculty and 150 students began classes in Bradley Hall on October 4—with 500 workers still hammering away. (The Horological Department added another eight faculty and 70 students.) Bradley Polytechnic Institute was formally dedicated on October 8, 1897. Its first graduate, in June 1898, was Cora Unland.

Originally, the institute was organized as a four-year academy as well as a two-year college. There was only one other high school in the city of Peoria at the time. By 1899 the institute had expanded to accommodate nearly 500 pupils, and study fields included biology, chemistry, food work, sewing, English, German, French, Latin, Greek, history, manual arts, drawing, mathematics, and physics. By 1920 the institute dropped the academy orientation and adopted a four-year collegial program. Enrollment continued to grow over the coming decades and the name Bradley University was adopted in 1946. [4]

The first music building on Bradley's Campus was built in 1930 and named after Jennie Meta Constance (the English department), who was murdered on August 28, 1928. In 1962 the building was renovated to become the music building of Bradley's Campus. [5] Only approximately $2,500 was spent renovating the building, most of the money was spent turning a kitchen into a classroom. In 2002 more renovations were made to Constance Hall to modernize it and make it more spacious. The renovation included an elevator and more office space.


Westlake Hall was recently renovated and expanded to six times its original size. Bradley U Westlake Hall.jpg
Westlake Hall was recently renovated and expanded to six times its original size.

Bradley University was ranked #2 among 157 Midwest Regional Universities in the 2022 edition of America's Best Colleges published by U.S. News & World Report. [6] The annual survey also recognized Bradley as the 36th "best value" Midwestern school in the ranking of Great Schools at Great Prices. [7]

The Bradley University Department of Teacher Education and College of Education and Health Sciences is NCATE-approved. [8] Additionally, Bradley University's Foster College of Business is one of less than 2% of business schools worldwide to achieve and maintain AACSB International accreditation for both business and accounting programs.

Bradley University is organized into the following colleges and schools:

Undergraduate colleges

Students without a declared major may also be admitted to the Academic Exploration Program (AEP).

The university is also home to the Charley Steiner School of Sports Communication, the first such named school in the U.S. [9]

Graduate school

Through the Graduate School, Bradley University offers Masters level graduate degrees in five of its colleges: business, communication and fine arts, education and health sciences, engineering, and liberal arts and sciences. Each has its own hourly requirements and varies in completion time. The program of physical therapy offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Bradley University is among the first universities in the nation to have a school of entrepreneurship and the first established as a freestanding academic unit. The Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation [10] is named in honor of Bob and Carolyn Turner, long-time supporters of Bradley. The Turners established the Robert and Carolyn Turner Center for Entrepreneurship in 2002. [11] Dr. Gerald Hills, the school's founding academic executive director, received the Karl Vesper Entrepreneurship Pioneer Award in 2012 and the Babson Lifetime Award in 2011. Hills served as the Turner Chair of Entrepreneurship until he retired in December 2014. [12]

Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked Bradley's undergraduate entrepreneurship program among the top 25 programs in the nation.

Bradley is headquarters for the national Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO), with CEO student chapters at 240 universities.

Tuition and financial aid

As of the 2015–2016 school year, students who are enrolled full-time at Bradley University pay $31,110 for tuition. Students living in the residence halls on campus pay an additional $9,700 for room and board, along with a $370 activity and health fee. [13] The total cost for full-time students living on campus is $41,180. [13] The university offers hundreds of different scholarships and grants from numerous sources such as federal, state and private entities. They provide financial aid in the form of loans, work study, scholarship, and grants. [14] Financial assistance awards are typically received by more than 85% of the university's students. [15]


Bradley's 84 acre campus on Peoria's west bluff. Bradley U Campus Aerial.jpg
Bradley's 84 acre campus on Peoria's west bluff.

Bradley's 84-acre (340,000 m2) campus is located on Peoria's west bluff and is minutes from the city's downtown. The campus of Bradley University is relatively compact. There are few places on campus which cannot be reached from any other part of campus in under ten minutes on foot. Bradley's student housing is concentrated on the campus's east side, and the residence halls include College (transfer community), Geisert, Harper, Heitz, University, Williams, and Wyckoff Halls. There is also a complex of singles dormitories (Elmwood, Wendle, and Lovelace) and two university-owned apartment complexes: St. James Apartments and the Student Apartment Complex. [16]

Also located on the south side of Bradley's campus is Dingeldine Music Center, which was acquired from the Second Church of Christ, Scientist in 1983. The center serves as the main performance and practice facility for Bradley's instrumental and choral programs.

Bradley University is also the site of Peoria's National Public Radio affiliate, WCBU-FM, located on the second floor of Jobst Hall.

Westlake Hall renovation

Built in 1897, Westlake Hall is the oldest building on campus and has been utilized as a learning facility for over one hundred years. This building is home to Bradley's College of Education and Health Sciences. In March 2010, this building underwent a $24 million renovation that was officially completed in June 2012. This renovation increased the building to four stories tall consisting of academic classrooms and offices. The building went from 13,500 square ft to 84,500 square ft, six times its original size. [17] The building's signature clock tower and limestone was incorporated into the renovation to keep some of the building's originality. The building was also designed to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification standards, which includes qualities such as energy saving, water efficiencies, and CO2 emission reductions. [18] The remodel was recognized by American School and University for its remarkable design in adaptive reuse. [19]


Renaissance Coliseum Bradley U Renaissance Coliseum.jpg
Renaissance Coliseum

Bradley University is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. Conference-approved sports at Bradley for men are baseball, basketball, cross country running, golf, indoor and outdoor track, and soccer. Women's' sports consist of basketball, cross country running, golf, indoor and outdoor track, softball, tennis, and volleyball. The men's basketball team has appeared nine times in the NCAA Tournament: 1950, 1954, 1955, 1980, 1986, 1988, 1996, 2006, 2019 and would have appeared in the 2020 NCAA tournament as the MVC Tournament Champions. In 1950 and 1954 they were national runners up in the Final Four, and in 2006 the Braves made their first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1955, defeating 4th seed Kansas and 5th seed Pittsburgh. Bradley's run came to an end in the Sweet Sixteen with a loss to the University of Memphis. Bradley also won the National Invitation Tournament in 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1982. In 2008, the men's basketball team was selected to participate in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational. They defeated Cincinnati and Virginia en route to the Championship but lost to Tulsa 2–1 in a 3-game series.

In 2007, the Bradley soccer team defeated Creighton 1–0 to claim their first MVC Tournament Championship and fourth appearance in the NCAA postseason soccer tournament. Following their first ever NCAA tournament game victory over DePaul 2–0, the Braves continued on a magical run to the Elite Eight by defeating seven-time national champion Indiana University on penalty kicks (5–4) and the University of Maryland in overtime, both on the road. During the Maryland game they were down 2–0 with less than three minutes left and won. The match has been referred to as "The Miracle in Maryland." Bradley's coach, Jim DeRose, was named the national Coach of the Year by Soccer America after their great season.

Bradley baseball advanced to the College World Series in 1950 and 1956. In 1956, the team qualified for the Final Four, falling to eventual champion Minnesota in the semifinals. In 2015, the Bradley baseball team received an at-large bid to the NCAA postseason baseball tournament, the school's first appearance in the tournament since 1968. After finishing the regular season with a record of 32–18, the Braves advanced to the Missouri Valley conference tournament championship game by defeating Evansville, Indiana State, and #11 nationally ranked Dallas Baptist and were ultimately defeated by #8 nationally ranked Missouri State 5–2. After finishing the season with the #19 RPI in the nation and a record of 35–19, the Braves were placed in the Louisville regional as the #2 seed, along with #3 seeded Michigan, #4 seeded Morehead State and #1 seed host Louisville. Video taken at the team's selection show viewing party shows the team excitement when they learned they would be participating in the NCAA tournament. When the Braves earned a 9–4 victory over Morehead State, they snapped a streak of 9 straight losses in NCAA postseason play dating back to the third round of the College World Series in 1956 when they defeated Wyoming 12–8. [20]

The Bradley men's and women's cross country teams were MVC champions in 2015. In 2016 the men won the MVC championship again and placed 5th at regionals while the women were MVC runner ups. In 2018, the BU men's cross country team won the MVC yet again and qualified for the NCAA Championship meet in Madison, Wisconsin, where they finished 24th, outpacing their #25 national ranking.

The university does not have a football team. The football program was disbanded in 1970. [21]

Bradley University was a member of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1910 to 1937.

Groups and activities

Markin Family Student Recreation Center Markin Family Student Recreation Center.jpg
Markin Family Student Recreation Center

Speech Team

Bradley University is home to the most successful speech team in the nation, with their American Forensics Association Championship winning streak from 1980 through 2000 only broken in 1994 and 1995. [22] [23] Bradley has garnered 141 individual national titles and 39 team sweepstakes over the last 30 years. Bradley's forensics team hosts the nation's oldest intercollegiate competition, known as the L.E. Norton Invitational named after former forensics director L.E. Norton. The team also hosts an annual tournament for high school speech teams, known as the George Armstrong Invitational.


More than thirty percent of undergraduate students are involved in fraternities and sororities at Bradley University. The community currently consists of twenty-seven chapters, representing the North American Interfraternity Conference, National Panhellenic Conference, and National Pan-Hellenic Council. Twenty of the chapters have houses on campus, which are primarily located on the south side of campus.

Active Chapters of the North American Interfraternity Conference

Active Colonies of the North American Interfraternity Conference

Active Chapters of the National Panhellenic Conference

Active Fraternity Chapters of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)

Active Sorority Chapters of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)

Other social and professional organizations


The annual student literary journal, Broadside, publishes student art and writing in a 100-page journal that is released each spring. The publication is staffed and run entirely by students. The organization also holds two readings: an informal "open mic" night in the fall, and a formal reading in late April which usually features writers published in the journal.

The Scout

The student-run weekly newspaper, The Scout, covers student life and issues on campus, Bradley sports, and local Peoria news that concerns students. Dates for local concerts, movie and music reviews can all be found written by students in The Scout’s "Voice" section. Student staff rotates and changes yearly.

Common Ground

Common Ground provides a supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere in which people in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as their relatives or friends, may explore and discuss the issues facing their lives. Common Ground also offers speakers bureau services, brings speakers to campus, and provides confidential, anonymous, private meetings. All communication made to Common Ground is kept confidential.

Office of Diversity and Inclusion The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) was established to advance Bradley University's commitment to diversity, and enhance underrepresented students' access and success at the university. It is their aim to facilitate dialogue among the campus community that seeks to provide a climate that is supportive, inclusive, and appreciative of diversity and all of its benefits. All communities are welcomed into the Garret Center to enter an environment free of judgment and open to suggestions about rising above the -isms and perceptions of underrepresented groups. [25]




Notable people

Hayden-Clark Alumni Center Bradley U Alumni Center.jpg
Hayden-Clark Alumni Center

See also

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