Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Long History of Innovation at Peirce

Thomas May Peirce founded Union Business College in 1865 under the innovative idea that returning Civil War soldiers and others might want a business-focused education. Moreover he had the radical idea for the time that this education should be offered to both men and women. Founded on innovation, Peirce has always looked to the future and embraced technologies that would aid students in the classroom and in their careers.

In the early years, Peirce promoted Spencerian Method penmanship courses to ensure graduates would be best prepared to conduct business in Philadelphia and beyond. A few years later the invention of the typewriter transformed business writing, and Peirce offered classes in typing as early as the 1870’s. In 1884, the school introduced courses in stenography.

Typing Class
Early Accounting Student
Moving into the 20th Century, Peirce was quick to recognize the power of radio. Various Peirce faculty members appeared on WDAR, an early Philadelphia station broadcasting out of the Lit Brothers Building on Market Street. In the 1920s, Peirce hosted a series of radio spelling bees for school children throughout the Philadelphia region, and began hosting regular business-oriented programs, including one called “Philadelphia Leads America.” Back on campus, faculty began recording their lectures on the Ediphone, an example of can be viewed in the Library.

Auto Tutor
Following the Second World War Thomas May Peirce, 3rd became the Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Peirce, and he looked to create innovative yet practical new programs for the school.  By 1960, Peirce offered courses in office automation, and a few years later, computer programming. To accommodate the large computers of the era, the automation and programming courses were held at the WCAU building at 1622 Chestnut Street, now home to the Art Institute. By the 1970s, computers were an integral part of nearly every program. Peirce continued to innovate as the 21st Century approached, launching its first website in 1996,and one of the first fully online programs in the country in 2000. 

Automation Brochure

Office Automation