From Founding Through World War II

As preeminent financial leaders of the early 20th century, Roger and Grace Babson set off on their next endeavor: the founding of Babson Institute. Together, they would make the world a better place through education.

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Babson 1919-1923

Babson opens its doors, buys land, and starts to build a campus

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Babson 1924-1928

Babson reaches a high of 50 enrolled students

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Babson 1929-1933

Babson sees its first international students from Europe, Latin America, and Asia earn their degrees

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Babson 1924-1938

The Student Handbook emphasizes the training of men in practical business principles and the raising of ethical standards

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Babson 1939-1944

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts grants Babson authority to award a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.)

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“One of the great pleasures of life is to conceive an ideal and then to work to make the ideal become a reality. And that is just what the Babson Institute is doing.”

– Roger Babson



  • Babson Institute offers a one-year Certificate in Business Administration, also called a Certificate in Management. The program presumes some business or college experience.
  • Ralph B. Wilson is the first employee of the new Babson Institute and Austin Fittz the first member of the faculty.


  • The first class graduates in June with a Certificate in Business Administration. Arthur M. Cleveland of Plymouth, Ind., receives the first Babson diploma.
  • The Institute is housed in the Washington Street (Wellesley, Mass.) building that was the former home of the Babson Statistical Organization. The building is now known as the Stuart Building.


  • George Coleman, a prominent Boston civic leader, becomes the second President of Babson.
  • Babson is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Roger Babson purchases 69 acres of Edward Lyon’s farm as a residential base for the campus.
  • Alice Coleman becomes the first female member of the Babson Board of Trustees.
  • The first yearbook is published. The Babsonian (pdf) is its name for its entire run.


  • Boston architect George F. Marlowe is hired to design the first buildings (Georgian style, at Mr. Babson’s request), and John Nolen is retained to design the campus grounds. A plan is made and construction begins on campus buildings.


  • Babson’s first four buildings open: the Administration Building (named Mustard Hall in 1975 and now the home of the Lunder Undergraduate Admission Center), Bryant Hall, Lyon Hall (renamed Luksic Hall in 1996), and Knight Auditorium.
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts charters Babson for the purpose of “furnishing education in all matters.”
  • Three women are in attendance, the most taking classes at Babson until 1968.



  • Peavey Gymnasium opens, named in honor of Babson Statistical Organization President Leroy D. Peavey.
  • The student body numbers 37. The first alumni magazine is published.
  • The Coleman Map Building begins construction, built to house the Great Relief Map and named for President Coleman.


  • Babson Park Clubhouse (renamed Park Manor South in 1930) opens with hotel-like amenities.
  • There are 50 students enrolled at Babson.
  • The Great Relief Map begins construction.


  • Westgate is constructed as a home for the President. It is used as such until the Institute closes during World War II.



  • WBSO-AM studios are built at 1763 Great Plain Avenue, Needham, Mass., for the Babson Statistical Organization’s radio station. It is currently part of Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering’s campus.
  • Roger Babson builds a house at 56 Whiting Road as a gift for his daughter, Edith Babson Webber. Since 1957, it has served as the home of the President of the College.


  • Park Manor (named Park Manor Central in 1951) is built as a residence hall and opens the following year.
  • Philip C. d’Arcis of Switzerland becomes the first European to complete the certificate program at Babson.


  • For the first time in the history of Babson, a formally organized athletic team represents the school. The basketball team goes 7–5 and calls themselves “The Financeers.”
  • There are 129 students enrolled at Babson and more than 580 alumni.
  • On March 13, the Town of Wellesley votes to allow Roger Babson and his immediate family to be buried on campus.


  • Arthur Van Winkle and R. Howard Webster receive Certificates in Business Administration. Both men eventually have their names on buildings.


  • In the darkest year of the Great Depression, Babson drops tuition, room, and board fees from $3,000 to $2,000 as enrollment drops to 46.
  • Chin Hsi Li of Hankow, China, becomes the first Asian graduate of Babson.
  • Alexander Suero of Havana, Cuba, is the first Latin American to graduate from Babson.



  • Babson begins a two-year Certificate of Business Administration program. This effectively drops the “some college” requirement for admission to the Institute and allows recent high school graduates to apply.


  • George Coleman retires after 14 years as President of Babson. He is granted emeritus status.
  • Carl Smith, Northeastern University dean, becomes the third President of Babson.


  • The Student Handbook from 1937 begins: “The objectives of Babson Institute emphasize the training of men in practical business principles and the raising of ethical standards of business administration and executive control, the development of proper habits of work by observing business hours in a business environment and by making efficient use of each day. They further emphasize that soundness of character and moral integrity are fundamental to worthwhile achievement in life.”


  • The fore-parlour from Sir Isaac Newton’s St. Martin Street, London residence is purchased for 450 pounds sterling. The room is to be placed in the new Babson Institute Library.
  • Eleanor Haywood, BS (Simmons), MBA (Boston University), MS (University of Wisconsin), leaves Babson for the WPA after 19 years as registrar and librarian and the de facto engine that made things work.
  • Chester W. Cleveland, Class of 1921, becomes the first Babson graduate to receive an honorary degree.



  • Babson Institute Library is dedicated October 14.
  • The library handbook provides instruction: “No man can hope to learn more than a small portion of collected knowledge, but to know where and how to find what is desired often will point the way to success or failure.”


  • The Great Relief Map is completed December 31.
  • Roger Babson places third in his run for President of the United States.


  • Freeman T. Putney is elected treasurer.


  • Babson enrollment, which had been creeping back up since the depths of the economic depression, drops from 112 to 58 students as the country gears up for war.


  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts grants authority to award a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.) degree for the completion of a three-year program. The ability to award the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is granted at the same time but is put on hold until 1951.
  • The U.S. Navy uses Babson facilities for training its supply officers as Babson is closed June 8 for the duration of the war.


  • President Smith resigns effective October 31.
  • John Horner becomes de facto President.