Dear Woodbury community,
“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – William Shedd
This week (October 14-19, 2013), we celebrate Woodbury Week—a tribute to the entrepreneurship of F.C. Woodbury, our contributions to the early business development of Los Angeles, the continuing contributions of our alumni, and how we will continue into the future this tradition of service to the region.
We celebrate the 129th anniversary of the time when we first offered business classes in a storefront in the Pueblo, the central business district of Los Angeles at that time. F.C. Woodbury created this institution to meet a pressing need. In 1884, the city of Los Angeles was still in its infancy. There were only 35,000 Angelenos at that time, but Mr. Woodbury and the civic leaders of this fledging city understood that an educated citizenry would be essential to future growth and prosperity. Mr. Woodbury, who came to the frontier that was Los Angeles from the more established San Francisco, instituted one of the pillars of Woodbury education—entrepreneurship.
Woodbury has been part of the business development of Los Angeles and, in a sustained demonstration of our core value of agility, our campus moved with the central business district. At one time, one out of ten Angelenos went to Woodbury to study bookkeeping, commercial law, and how to operate the telegraph. But our first graduates accomplished even more.
One of our earliest graduates, Mary Emily Foy, the first woman head librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, became a leader in the California Women’s Suffrage Movement—nine years ahead of the federal drive to open the franchise to women. Years later, in 1914, another Woodbury alumna, Georgia Phillips Morgan Bullock, was appointed the first woman judge of Los Angeles. Judge Bullock was the “woman judge” of Los Angeles, in charge of a court segregated by gender where “she would serve as a role model of Victorian ideals of womanhood for female misdemeanants.”
What Woodbury has contributed to our community is to deliver liberal arts-based professional education that effectively prepares students for careers. Through the decades, Woodbury’s academic programs have been highly respected for being practical, entrepreneurial, and career-oriented. In 1961, we received WASC accreditation—an external validation of our academic quality. In 1974, we became a private, not-for-profit university. In 1984, we added architecture to our programs. Then in 1987, we moved from Los Angeles to Burbank in the former site of the Catholic girls’ school Villa Cabrini.
Woodbury Week is a time to celebrate our graduates. A university’s principal contribution to society is the production of graduates with highly valued degrees. We are truly proud of our graduates. They include the first superintendent of the California Highway Patrol (Eugene W. Biscailuz), the Academy Award-winning fashion designer who created the most costumes for Marilyn Monroe including the most famous costume in all of film (William Travilla), the secretarial school graduate whose book launched the women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s (Helen Gurley Brown), and the architecture graduate who is now a successful shoe designer based in London (Bryan Oknyansky).
Woodbury is committed to continuing this tradition of producing graduates who are outstanding professionals grounded in liberal education and committed to socially responsible citizenship. As one community, let us join the alumni and friends of Woodbury as we embark in the various activities commemorating Woodbury Week.
Dr. Luís María R. Calingo