Heider 100: the 1930s

Heider 100: 1930s Highlights

Image of Heider College of Business from now and 100 years ago


After a decade of existence, the Creighton College of Commerce seemed to be on solid footing. Of course, like so many other aspects of American life, the firmness of that footing would get tested by the stock market collapse that began on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday. Many in Omaha initially thought the effects of the crash would quickly pass, but soon the region’s agricultural economy began to suffer. Corn and beef prices plummeted. Unemployment grew. Bank deposits took a hit. In certain parts of Omaha, a black-market economy sprung up.

At Creighton, the Great Depression made certain aspects of on-campus life difficult. One 1933 article in The Creightonian offered that few American institutions felt the effects more than the educational system, which had been “off on the wrong track” for a decade. However, the Depression never seriously threatened to shut down the university. Students would witness a rise in tuition to start the decade (to the tune of $100 per semester), but remarkably it would remain at that amount until after 1943.

  • Beginning in 1931, placement tests were implemented for all arts and commerce freshmen.
  • After receiving his PhD from the State University of Iowa in 1932, Dean Floyd Walsh would become an upperclassmen adviser after the creation of a student advisory system; freshmen were advised by other full-time faculty members.
  • In 1933, John P. Begley received his PhD from the State University of Iowa and was advanced to the rank of associate professor of finance.
  • Also in 1933, journalism was separated from commerce, in part due to concerns about adequate space to house students.
  • According to the 1935 Bluejay, the College of Commerce boasted an enrollment that ranked among the three largest departments at the university.
  • According to the 1939 Creighton University yearbook, the four-year commerce course of study was divided into two divisions: during the first two years, students took courses in economics and accounting, and during the second two years, courses were concentrated in specialized subjects.
  • Classroom work was supplemented by field trips to various downtown Omaha businesses. While this strategy might have lost favor at times during the many decades that followed, ultimately, by the 2000s, Creighton returned to this philosophy of exposing students to active businesses, not only in the form of field trips but through internships and work-study programs.

Notable Alumni


You might say Ray Finnegan became something of a hot dog after leaving Creighton. For what at the time was the world’s largest advertising agency, no less.

After holding various communications posts following graduation from Creighton, Finnegan in 1938 landed a copywriting gig for Roach, Williams and Cunningham Advertising Agency in Chicago. He later got the same post at the J. Walter Thompson Company, the world’s top agency. Twenty-three years later he had climbed to become the company’s vice president and creative director. It was during his time in that slot that the company came up with the famous “Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener” jingle, written by a Richard Trentlage through a J. Walter Thompson competition (according to Kraft archives). The song hit the airwaves in 1963 and the diddy actually garnered listener requests, vaulting it into jingle history.

Finnegan finished a 23-year career at J. Walter in 1965 when he returned to Omaha to work for Allen & Reynolds Advertising Agency and for his alma mater in various roles.







1932-33 College of Commerce Faculty

See our entire 100 year timeline