Rockford Career College was founded in 1862 to provide a good business education at a reasonable cost to the residents of Rockford, Illinois. In the years that followed, the school expanded its offerings and added more occupational programs. It is the fifth oldest college in the state of Illinois. Ownership of the school changed several times over the years, but its core mission has remained the same: To provide relevant training to get you into the workforce quickly.
In 2003, the college was acquired by the American Higher Education Development Group.
Key dates and events in our college’s history:
- 1862 – The Civil War has been going on for two years, the West has yet to be settled and Rockford is just 10 years old. Two entrepreneurs named Chamberlin and Dell start Rockford Business College at 107 S. Main St.
- 1869 – RBC is bought by Atkinson, Reed & Co. and the college moves to 118-120 S. Main St. Main courses are English, shorthand, typewriting and penmanship.
- 1874 – After three ownership changes, including F.E. Arnold, ownership reverts to the original founders, and the college moves to 316 E. State St. The population of Rockford is now more than 11,000.
- 1877 – Management of the college is turned over to Prof. E.C.A. Becker who buys RBC along with J.A. Griffin. The college is now called Becker’s Business College and moves down to the 300 block of State Street.
- 1881 – The college again changes hands, being turned over to Winans and Johnson.
- 1892 – RBC becomes part of the Brown’s Business College group of schools. It also moves once again, this time to the Stewart Building at 113-115 S. Main St. Electric power is available to residents for the first time.
- 1902 – The college ushers in the new century with a move to the 100 block of W. State St. Enrollment at this time was over 400, training the future businesspeople that helped shape the Rockford of today.
- 1920 – Rockford’s population is well over 65,000. RBC moves to the corner of State and Water streets to accommodate growing demand.
- 1934 – Growth in the city comes to a halt during the Great Depression. Brown’s Business College is sold to E.F. Lyons and the college finds a new home at 319 W. Jefferson St. It would be the college’s home for the next 48 years.
- 1942 – The nation is at war, and the college does its part by offering $25 war bonds to women who successfully complete their degree in Secretarial Science, Medical Secretarial Science, Accounting, or Business Administration. Its new name is Rockford School of Business.
- 1945 – The college accommodates the needs of returning war veterans and helps them readjust after the war. The college again changes hands, now being owned by Ernest N. Black and Darlene H. Heller.
- 1957 – Rockford’s population stands at more than 100,000. The city has its first TV station (WTVO Channel 39). Rockford School of Business continues to grow, now gaining approval from the state Board of Higher Education to offer fully accredited degrees. Enrollment skyrockets as a result.
- 1963 – The college name is changed to Rockford School of Business & Engineering and offers bachelor’s degrees in addition to associate degrees.
- 1967 – The Bunch family of Peoria buys the college and changes the name to Rockford Midstate College of Commerce.
- 1969 – The college is purchased by Frank Flick Education Centers, and shortly thereafter is renamed Rockford Business College.
- 1981 – The college receives approval from the state to offer associate degrees in the fields of Secretarial Science, Accounting, Business Administration, Medical Secretarial Science, and Tourism. It is sold to the non-profit Educational Development Corp., which makes David Swank its director.
- 1987 – RBC moves to 730 N. Church St. Eventually, the college is purchased by its director, David Swank and his wife, Susan. Their first order of business is to develop a program in Computer Information Services to keep pace with this fast-growing technology.
- 1990’s – The Swank Educational Corp. obtains accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), giving its programs and courses extra value. During this time, more programs are added, including Office Support, Medical Office Assistant, Medical Transcription, Medical Assistant, Paralegal, and a host of computer-related degrees and diplomas.
- 2003 – The Swanks sell the college to the American Higher Education Development Corp. (AHED), which invests heavily in facility improvements and computer infrastructure. Barbara Holliman is the college’s new President. She develops partnerships with the Freeport Health Network, (which hosts a Medical Assistant class at its clinic), and with the Illinois Employment and Training Center.
- 2004 – Rockford Career College became part of the American Higher Education Development Corp. family of schools
- 2005 – Barbara Holliman moves onto another college, and RBC’s Director of Finance, Guary Bernadelle, assumes the helm. Under his leadership, the college expands to the eastside with a new Learning Center in Colonial Village, home to the college’s five health-related programs. Spurred by demand in the healthcare field, the college adds programs in Massage Therapy, Certified Nursing Assistant, Pharmacy Technician and Veterinary Technician.
- 2008 – Rockford Business College makes its biggest move ever, not only in location, but in name as well. The new location for the college is the former Bergner’s location at Rockford’s Colonial Village Mall and the new name is Rockford Career College, emphasizing the great career offerings the college has to offer in areas other than just a traditional business setting.
- 2013 – Rockford Career College becomes a branch of New Media Arts Training Center DBA Madison Media Institute.
- 2016 – Two other AHED schools located in Madison, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, are brought into the Rockford Career College family.