Our history

The University of Leicester School of Business has a long and distinguished history. Originally conceived and developed by prominent civic leaders and business proprietors in the local community to respond to the devastation from the 1914-1918 war.

Fielding Johnson building in 1920s.jpgAt 10:00 am on Tuesday 4 October 1921 the University College, Leicester opened its doors for classes. The idea was initiated by Reverend Joseph Wood of the Literary and Philosophical Society and funded by a large number of kind donations from private benefactors. One of these benefactors was Thomas Fielding Johnson (24 December 1828-1921) a prominent Victorian businessman and philanthropist.

A year later the decision was made to establish permanent lectureships in particular subjects, with Mr P W Bryan, previously at the London School of Economics taking up one of these positions. A £20,000 donation enabled the development of a Department of Commerce in 1924 with Mr P W Bryan taking charge and appointing R V Rodwell, a part-time lecturer in Accounting.

The department continued to grow and in February 1932 the Academic Committee passed the notion that a full BSc (Econ) should be implemented.  In 1936 Florence Hartshorn was the first graduate of the BSc (Econ), graduating with a second class honours degree.Graduates from the 1920s.jpg

The University College was granted Royal Charter and gained its independence on 1 May 1957 with students first being admitted to University of Leicester degrees in the summer of 1958.  The same year saw the Department of Commerce and Economics gain independence, and lose ‘commerce’ from the title becoming known as the Department of Economics.

In 1980 Professor Peter Jackson became Head of Department and during his headship initiated discussions with the University regarding the creation of management courses. In 1989 the Management Centre was launched under the directorate of Professor Jackson, initially recruiting distance learning students to MBA, management, marketing and finance courses. The Management Centre complemented the work undertaken by The Centre for Labour Market Studies (CLMS) which had been established within the Faculty of the Social Sciences in 1986 as a semi-autonomous entrepreneurial centre and had developed a track record in distance learning provision. CLMS was initially built on the research activities of an interdisciplinary group of academics interested in the areas of labour markets and training drawn mainly from the disciplinary areas of sociology, education, economics and management.

In 1992, the Management Centre welcomed postgraduate campus-based students, and in 2000 launched its first undergraduate campus based programme as well as gaining recognition as an independent department. In 2007 the Management Centre gained full school status and became known as the School of Management. The School had established itself as one of the largest providers of distance learning management courses in the UK and had a reputation for offering high quality flexible management education around the world. It was now offering a full suite of programmes, taking students from undergraduate courses, through to specialist masters programmes and the development of a strong PhD research community. In the 2011/2012 academic year, the School of Management merged with the Centre for Labour Market Studies.

BrookfieldIn August 2016 it was announced by the President and Vice Chancellor that the expertise in the University's Department of Economics and School of Management was to be bought together to create a new School of Business with Professor Zoe Radnor the first appointed Dean.

In 2019 the School of Business will be moving to a new purpose built campus at Brookfield. This site was the former home of Thomas Fielding Johnson and the historic building is being restored to become the new reception for the School of Business.

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School of Business
University of Leicester
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