On September 3, 1919, with an enrollment of 27 students, the Babson Institute held its first classes in the former home of Roger and Grace Babson on Abbott Road in Wellesley Hills.
From the beginning, Roger Babson set out to distinguish the Babson Institute from colleges offering instruction in business. The Institute provided intensive training in the fundamentals of production, finance, and distribution in just one academic year, rather than four. The curriculum was divided into four subject areas: practical economics, financial management, business psychology, and personal efficiency (which covered topics such as ethics, personal hygiene, and interpersonal relationships). The program’s pace assumed that students would learn arts and sciences content elsewhere.
Believing experience to be the best teacher, Roger Babson favored a combination of class work and actual business training. Seasoned businessmen made up the majority of the faculty. To better prepare students for the realities of the business world, the Institute’s curriculum focused more on practical experience and less on lectures. Students worked on group projects and class presentations, observed manufacturing processes during field trips to area factories and businesses, met with managers and executives, and viewed industrial films on Saturday mornings.
The Institute also maintained a business environment as part of the students’ everyday life. The students, required to wear professional attire, kept regular business hours (8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m.–noon on Saturday) and were monitored by punching in and out on a time clock. They were also assigned an office desk equipped with a telephone, typewriter, adding machine, and Dictaphone. Personal secretaries typed the students’ assignments and correspondence in an effort to accurately reflect the business world. Roger Babson prepared his students to enter their chosen careers as executives, not anonymous members of the work force.
For more information on Roger Babson and the founding of the College, see The Founding Father (pdf) from John Mulkern’s history of Babson Continuity and Change.