Throwback Thursday – Bowling Green Business University

Bowling Green Business University was once a rival collegiate experience of Western Kentucky University. Established in 1874, the business university spent nearly 100 years being absorbed into WKU and evolving into the College of Commerce and modern College of Business. 

Over 145 years ago, Mr. A.W. Mell started the school 30 miles from Bowling Green in Glasgow. Within a decade, student enrollment outgrew the facility and demand from Bowling Green was higher. Mell moved the university to College Street in downtown Bowling Green in 1884.

The famous Cherry brothers assumed leadership in 1893 and grew the school exponentially with tuition costs at $18.50 for six months of business and typing classes. H.H. and T.C. Cherry are two of the most well-known names in southern Kentucky education, with H.H. eventually becoming President of WKU and T.C. becoming superintendent of Bowling Green City Schools. More on the Cherry brothers is coming in another segment.

As the schools grew, Southern Kentucky Normal School on the Hill became WKU in 1906, and H.H. Cherry became the university’s first president. The Bowling Green Business University changed its name to the College of Commerce by the 1950s, and merged with WKU as the College of Business in 1963.

Reminding students of the college’s roots, the Bowling Green College of Commerce historical marker sits on campus near the main entrance of Grise Hall, home to the Gordon Ford College of Business.