Mundelein College Goes Digital!

On hand for the first print-out from Mundelein’s new computer system were (l. to r.) John Bisaha, director of planning, Susan Rink, BVM, president, and Mary Brenan Breslin, BVM, vice president for business affairs, 1977. Image and caption from Mundelein Now, May 1977.

After renting a computer system for three years, Mundelein College* finally purchased its very own computer in February 1977. Mundelein Now, a combination college events/alumnae newspaper, announced the news with pride. This first computer was used to transfer student data from the admissions office to the registrar once a student was enrolled. After graduation, the information would be transferred to the alumnae office. This replacement of physical records helped eliminate potential duplicates and made making changes to student records easier. It also allowed professors to access accurate lists of students registered for their classes. The lone computer was shared not only by admissions, the registrar, and the alumnae office but by the financial aid department and business office, where it would handle payroll, accounts payable and receivable, the general ledger, and personnel records. This paved the way to increased computer usage at Mundelein.  

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The Mundelein College Economics Club: History in a Scrapbook

During their time in college, students can participate in various activities, clubs, and extracurriculars. The number of options can be overwhelming. Extracurriculars can be a welcome invitation to expand the horizons of one’s interests or let students apply their education into real-world examples.

Figure 1: Sister Mary Gregoria Fogarty, BVM. Mundelein Colelge Records Box 29, Folder 4.

The Economics Club at Mundelein College gave students the opportunity to plan on-campus events and a chance to connect their faith within a larger framework. A scrapbook that was digitized during the Mundelein at 90 project highlights the work of the Economics Club throughout the 1940s and 1950s. The scrapbook includes newspaper articles, letters, meeting notes, and yearbook photographs.

During the 1940s, the Economics Club at Mundelein College thrived under the leadership of Sister Mary Gregoria Fogarty, BVM, the head of the Economics Department. In addition to teaching business and geography, Sister Mary Gregoria participated in several panels and wrote articles about business education for the Catholic Business Education Association (CBEA). She served as the secretary-general for the CBEA and chairman of the Executive board of the Midwest contingent. In 1947, the Midwest unit held the regional meeting on Mundelein’s campus. Public events like this exposed students to professionals in the field and introduced them to the work they could consider after graduation [1]. Presenters included business managers of local companies, administrators from university commerce departments, and bank vice-presidents. They discussed the role of Catholics in the business world and how students can be best prepared for the ”real-world”.

Figure 2: Invitation to the Dad-Daughter Discussion. Scrapbook 5, page 45-46.

Alongside these kinds of professional developments, Sister Mary Gregoria and the Economics Club organized economic-related events for the campus community and the general public. Some of the campus activities included Father-Daughter discussions on hot topics in economics, toy drives connected with local charities, and collaborative meetings with the Economics Club at Loyola University Chicago. The intersection of academics and faith seems to be a significant one for the Economics Club. Debates considered how to navigate labor-management dynamics and how best to settle worker disputes. Many of these discussions highlighted the role of the Catholic church in economic issues.

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A Brief Look into Home Economics at Mundelein College 

Figure 1: Home Economics class showing off their handmade cakes. View in Digital Collection

The phrase “Home Ec” conjures scenes of students crowded around stoves, struggling with sewing needles, or caring for imitation babies. Middle and high schoolers, usually girls, learning basic life and housekeeping skills. Something of a dying art in our modern world, it’s rare to see Home Economics programs at secondary schools, and rarer still to see them at the collegiate level, but there was a time where Home Economics was a thriving field and popular choice for undergraduate study. Mundelein College was no exception. In fact, Mundelein just so happens to have had one of the best programs in the country. But what does an undergraduate program in Home Economics look like? I explored some of the WLA’s records from Mundelein College to learn more.  

Figure 2: Two Mundelein Home Economics students working with sewing machines. View in Digital Collection

The WLA’s collection features photographs, oral histories, and department and faculty records that tell the story of a Home Economics program that, over the years, enriched the lives of students, empowered them to seek out fulfilling careers, and pushed the field forward. In the early years of Mundelein, there were a variety of subjects that fell under the umbrella of Home Economics. From department reports from the 1930s, we can see that the program offered courses on dietetics and nutrition, cooking, fashion, cosmetics, home management, personal finance, and interior design. Many of these courses take a scientific, historical, or market research approach to the subject at hand, providing not only manual training, but also a thorough understanding of the how and why behind the work. Coursework in nutrition was especially robust and was a common specialization for Home Economics majors to choose.  

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