UT’s McCombs School Of Business Celebrates A Centennial

1914-1918: WORLD WAR I

John Treleven Tablet.World War I

John Treleven Tablet, Courtesy photo

When the first world war came around, both Bell and Treleven, the original business professors, enlisted in the army. Though at this time, there were a few other professors to take over teaching, enrollment at the university dropped dramatically as many male students were also joining the armed forces.

Nicar says that both Bell and Treleven rose to the rank of Major, and were stationed in Washington D.C. Bell was in the Statistical Branch of the Army, and Treleven was in the Quartermaster Corps.

Sadly, Treleven, who had been a very popular teacher at UT, and who had helped to start the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity, caught the flu in 1918, during the influenza pandemic that accompanied the war. He died of pneumonia.

Back at UT, the business students had a brass plaque made in his honor, which hung on the wall of the business shack for many years. When the business school’s location changed over the years, the plaque was always be brought along, and currently is on display on the fourth floor of the George Kozmetsky Business Center.


Nicar says the BBA program was co-ed from the very beginning, and the first two women graduates, Mary Elledge and Alice Ketchum, were awarded BBAs in 1920.


In 1932 the business program was finally moved into a real building – Waggener Hall, named for UT’s first president.

The architecture of the building is noteworthy. At the time, UT buildings were decorated with symbols and icons that told visitors what academic department was housed there. For example, the history building had longhorn skulls, Texas bluebonnets, and cacti, to make it look “Texan,” and 32 cattle brands to honor the history of the cattle industry.

In Waggener Hall, terra cotta decorations were installed just below the eaves, which represented products that Texas exported at the time, like an oil rig, pecans, oranges, fish, a tree to represent the lumber industry, cotton, corn, and vegetables.

1939-1945: WORLD WAR II

1943, A Few V 12 students in front of UT Tower. Courtesy photo

A few V 12 students in front of UT Tower. Courtesy photo

In the second world war, the business helped the University’s war effort by taking in the Naval V-12 unit. More than 100 U.S. Navy soldiers, who were also UT students, lived in residence halls, went to business classes, and also trained for service, ready to be called into action at any time.

In Spring 1944, word on campus was that the V-12 unit would be called up soon. If they order came, the agreed upon signal was that the bells in the UT Tower would play “You’re in the Army Now.” Nicar suspects that this song was chosen, rather than “Anchors Aweigh,” the Navy song, because the Tower didn’t have all of it’s 56 bells yet, so there were a limited number of songs they could play.

When the orders did arrive, in mid-May 1944, the Tower bells chimed, and Nicar says the V-12 students jumped from their business class seats, left their textbooks and notebooks on their desks, and rushed to the Main Mall in front of the tower to celebrate. He added that their girlfriends were reportedly not as excited, as they knew some of the men wouldn’t return.