Until 1949, there was no state-wide organization of business teachers in Wisconsin. During the years of 1947-49, several people were involved in an early planning period to establish a functioning state organization. These early leaders were Ray Rupple of Waukesha, Paul Carlson and Hank Collins of Whitewater, Olga Schlueter of Milwaukee, Bruno Krueger and Herb Simon of Appleton, Ray Burton of Wausau, Arthur Hoops of Green Bay, and Russell J. Hosler of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who initiated the efforts to organize a state-wide organization in business education. The constitution that was developed was presented and passed at the 1949 meeting of the "Commercial Division" at the Wisconsin Education Association convention in Milwaukee. The first annual convention of the newly formed Business Education Association was held in 1950 at the time of the WEA annual meeting in Milwaukee.
In a letter sent by the WBEA Secretary-Treasurer to G.E. Watson, State Superintendent of Schools on November 13, 1950, a resolution passed by the Business Education Association was presented: "Terms of 'business practice' and 'commercial teacher' as now used in the directory of teachers be discontinued and that the new term 'business education' be applied to all teachers in the field." This new title was accepted by DPI, and beginning with the 1951 directory, all business teachers were listed as business education teachers.
In 1952, the first issue of News and Views was published as a 13-page review of the year's activities. A highlight of the year was a total of 120 business teachers attended the 6th annual Business Institute at University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Total membership in 1952 of WBEA reached 155. Paul Carlson was the featured speaker for the 1953 Business Education sectionals that met at the same time as the WEA convention in Milwaukee. Mr. Carlson had just completed a United States tour researching problems facing business educators throughout the nation. His topic for this presentation was "Where Are We Going in Business Education?" Also at this convention, Miss Evelyn Kronenwetter presented a sectional about Kenosha High School's typing program, the first in the state to put in a full course on electric machines.
The headline of the 1954 edition of News and Views requested that every business teacher send a one-dollar bill for the WBEA membership. Also in this issue, the executive board asked for input as to the direction and local issues which should be addressed by WBEA. Five problem clinics were offered at the 1955 convention. Topics included problems in a small high school, office practice, bookkeeping, transcription, and stimulating business clubs. The May 1956 edition of New and Views again asked the 783 business teachers in Wisconsin to pay their one dollar to join WBEA. Current membership was 225 business educators. Eight problem clinics were offered at the WBEA convention. Dr. T. James Crawford was the main speaker for the 1957 convention held in Milwaukee. His topic dealt with problems in the teaching of typewriting. Four discussion groups were also offered dealing with testing and grading in various business subjects. Membership reached a total of 225 out of a total of over 800 business teachers in the state.
It was reported in the May 1958 News and Views that the salaries of beginning business teachers seem to be on the increase with salaries ranging from $4,000 to $4,600. Featured speakers at the 12th annual institute in Business Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were Mr. Charles Zoubek and Dr. John Rowe. The Milwaukee Vocational Association was the setting for the 1959 WBEA meeting and convention. The balance to end the year was reported as $25.25. For the first time, advertising appeared in the spring 1960 issue of News and Views. It was felt that companies offering products and services used by business teachers should have the opportunity to advertise, and the ads also helped to offset the cost of publishing the newsletter. Also in 1960, nearly 100 business teachers from Wisconsin and Minnesota attended the first Bi-State Business Education conference held in Eau Claire. "What's New" was chosen as the theme for the 1961 convention where four sectionals were presented on what's new in shorthand, economic education, typewriting, and business department planning. Marian Agnus was the main speaker at the convention. She told of her years of working in Scotland and England, and she demonstrated her ability to take dictation at speeds up to 300 words per minute in Pitman shorthand. Travel expense for executive board meetings was raised in 1961 to 7 cents per mile.
In 1962, a proposed amendment to the constitution suggested that the membership fee be increased for $1 to $2. This amendment was defeated for being a drastic increase. At this year's convention, the usual sectional meetings were eliminated and instead, a panel of member of the Young Presidents' Club of Milwaukee discussed the general field of economics. The main speaker at the convention was Dr. D. D. Lessenberry. In 1963, WBEA concentrated on a campaign to secure a business supervisor on a state staff of the Department of Public Instruction. The state superintendent informed WBEA that Federal funds may be available in the near future. In August 1964, Robert Ristau was appointed Coordinator of Vocational Education for the State of Wisconsin. He had the general responsibility for the administration and coordination of programs that will be developed in business and office education, distributive education, trade and industrial education, vocational home making, various aspects of agriculture related occupations, and vocational guidance.
In October 1964, WBEA's goal of having s supervisor of business education in the State Department of Public Instruction was realized. Robert Reynolds, past president of WBEA, was appointed Supervisor of Distributive Education. Funds made available through the Vocational Act of 1963 helped make these positions become a reality. Miss Gladys Bahr was featured as the speaker at the WBEA annual meeting held November 4-5, 1965, at the Vocational School in Milwaukee. With the increased attendance at the convention, nine sectional meetings were offered Friday afternoon. Also in 1965, three outstanding Wisconsin business educators were awarded Honorary Membership in WBEA for their contributions to business throughout the United States.
Recipients of these first Honorary Memberships were Gladys Bahr, Paul Carlson, and Russell J. Hosler. To aid the Executive Board of WBEA, a six-member Advisory Council was added in 1966. These representatives were selected to help the Executive Board further membership throughout the state Also during 1966, Wisconsin's FBLA and PBL Chapters took honors in more events at the national level than any other state. Miss Stella Pedersen and Dr. John L. Rowe were featured as the 1967 convention speakers at the WBEA sectionals held in Milwaukee. This also was the first year that the Executive Board position of secretary-treasurer was split into two separate positions. The membership fee increased from $1 to $2.
The 22nd Annual Business Education Institute was held in 1968 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Mr. Charles Zoubek was the featured speaker in the shorthand sectional meeting. Due to Wisconsin's desire for excellence in business education, the Executive Board's personal desire to provide something beneficial for membership in WBEA, and the conflicts with the WEA, WBEA met separate from the WEA convention, and changed the convention time from fall to spring. The annual WBEA convention was held April 18-19, 1969, at the Dell View Hotel in Wisconsin Dells. After more than a year of planning, this 20th convention was off to a future of convention successes for WBEA.
"Up the Up Staircase" was the theme selected for this convention, which was the beginning of an upward trend for future conventions. The convention registration fee for this convention was $1 for WBEA members and $3 for nonmembers. Tickets for the Friday evening banquet were $4 and tickets for the Saturday noon luncheon were $3. "The Walls Come Tumbling Down" was the theme for the 21st annual WBEA convention on April 17-18, 1970. The theme was chosen to inspire teachers to examine new methods, ideas, materials, and room layouts with an eye toward making changes in business teaching. The Dell View Hotel in Wisconsin Dells was again selected as the location. Dr. John L. Rowe and Dr. Charles Kauzlarich were two of the featured speakers at this convention. Additional facilities at the Dell View Hotel provided room for over 20 exhibitors.
The 22nd annual convention was held at the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point on April 23-24, 1971. Miss Marian Angus and Mr. Marshall Erdmann were the two featured speakers for the theme, "When You're Out of Ideas–You're Out of Business." Equipment and educational materials were shown by nearly 30 exhibitors. Membership reached an all-time high of 870 persons in 1970-71 and a projected goal of 1,000 members was set for1972. In 1972, once again business educators from Wisconsin gathered at the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point on April 21-22, 1972, for the 23rd annual convention. "It's Performance That Counts" was the theme for the many meetings which stressed the identification and measurement of performance objectives in business and distributive education courses. Membership hit a high with 976 members. Also during 1972, membership fees increased to $3, and the first vice president title changed to president-elect.
Lake Geneva's Playboy Club provided the setting for the 24th WBEA convention on April 6-7, 1973. The theme for this convention was "Business Education–Opportunities Unlimited." Three main speakers and twenty-four sectionals meetings headlined the program. Room rates for the 1973 convention were $18 for single or $25 for double occupancy. "Ideas Galore in '74" was the theme for the 25th annual convention held at the Sheraton Inn in Madison on April 5-6, 1974. Exhibits were displayed in 28 booths and 26 sectional meetings were held during the convention. Also the first Delta Pi Epsilon sponsored breakfast was held. Membership in WBEA reached a high of 1,051 members.
The 26th annual state convention was held in Green Bay on April 18-19, 1975. "Challenges of Change" was the theme for this convention. This also marked the first year that an automated membership list was used. The list was on IB punched cards and labels were printed for the two issues of News and Views. The Hilton Inn and Convention Center in Eau Claire was the setting for the bicentennial convention on April 2-3, 1976. With the theme of "Business Spirit of '76," the 27th annual offered 26 sectional meetings for business educators. Registration for this convention was $2 for members and $5 for nonmembers.
"Update '77" was the theme for the 1977 convention at the Pioneer Inn Oshkosh on April 22-23. Room reservations for this convention were $20 for single or $29 for double occupancy. Also in 1977, an invitation was extended to each of the business teacher training institutions to select a student representative to the Advisory Council. "For Ideas, Come to the Point" was the theme for the 29th annual convention in April 1978 at the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point. Improving teaching methodology was the main idea for the 1978 convention. Twenty-five sectional meetings and several idea exchanges were offered for convention-goers.
The Red Carpet Expo in Milwaukee hosted the 1979 WBEA convention on April 27-28. "Business Education for Tomorrow, Today–Experience With WBEA" was selected for the theme for this 30th annual convention. The emphasis of this convention was working with special needs students. "Wisconsin Brings the Eighties Alive" was the theme for the 1980 convention in Green Bay on April 18-19, 1980. Almost 400 business educators attended this 31st annual convention to make it a huge success.
The 32nd annual convention, "Capitalize on WBEA for Ideas," was held at Madison's Sheraton Inn on March 27-28, 1981. Starting with this convention, five sectionals were offered during each time slot instead of four to allow for more comfortable seating and an even greater subject-matter selections. Nineteen hundred eighty-two marked the 33rd annual WBEA convention at the Milwaukee Hyatt Regency Hotel on April 23-24. "The Sky's the Limit With WBEA" was extra special because WBEA and the North-Central Business Education Association held a joint convention. Another special feature of this convention was that the past presidents of WBEA and N-CBEA were honored with a presidents' reception sponsored by all the exhibitors.
"Something Special On The Horizon With WBEA" set the mood for the 34th annual convention in LaCrosse on April 22-23, 1983. Special sectionals were offered at this convention in the areas of microcomputers and word processing. WBEA provides more opportunities to be involved professionally, to gain up-to-date knowledge, and to have access to current articles represented the central theme for the 35th annual convention, which was "WBEA Offers More in 1984." This convention was held at Appleton's Paper Valley Hotel and Conference Center on March 23-24, 1984. Much information was offered for persons teaching at the postsecondary and secondary levels, and from speakers employed in business and industry in addition to the many successful subject-matter sectionals. Clarence Greiber, former Director of Vocational Technical and Adult Education in Wisconsin, was given an Award of Merit for his many contributions to vocational education.
"Alive In '85 With WBEA" was as successful as the 35 preceding conventions. This 36th convention was held at the Civic Center Inn in Eau Claire on April 26-27. Willard Daggett of the New York State Education Department spoke about "Business Education 1990" while Rosemary Fruehling from McGraw-Hill told "How Business Educators Should Prepare Students for the Electronic Office." The Executive Board decided to present two awards—secondary and postsecondary—to individuals who had made outstanding contributions to the field of Business Education. Professional dues for WBEA members were $12. Fall workshops had been offered by WBEA since 1981; however, in 1986, a decision was made to offer two fall workshops, one for members in the southern area of the state and the other for those living farther north. This tradition continued for three years before returning to just one fall convention.
Six hundred members attended "You and WBEA: the Right Mix for '86" at the Madison Sheraton Inn, April 24-26, the 37th convention. Highlights of that convention were addresses by Mary Futrell, president of NEA and former business educator, and Dr. T. James Crawford, nationally known author and leader in business education. What was to become an annual event, The Russ Hosler Fun Run/Walk was initiated. Russ was recognized for "going the distance" in business education.
A new activity at the 1987 Green Bay convention, "Business Education Skills Today: Career Forever!," was the introduction of a Thursday afternoon Marketplace Seminar sponsored by the Chicago Board of Trade, offering a new approach to teaching economics based on practical markets. Dr. David Weaver from McGraw-Hill talked about "Grassroots Leadership in Business Education" and Dr. Anne Mathews, past president of NBEA, spoke on "Shaping the Future of Business Education." A record attendance of almost 700 persons were at the convention. The spring issue of News and Views contained a series of articles on "The Status of Shorthand." Added to the Executive
Board was a membership/information processing officer, a two-year appointed position. In 1988 the professional dues were raised to $15. The convention "WBEA Brews a Winner in Milwaukee," the 39th, was held at the Milwaukee Marc Plaza. On Thursday afternoon IBM made two presentations: "Touch of Class" and "WP Networking." Two special sectionals were offered at this convention, one for FBLA and another for retired business educators. Dr. Patricia Moody of the University of South Carolina was the keynote presenter. The Marketplace Workshop was again featured on Thursday afternoon at the 1989 convention "Capitalize on the Future," which was held at the Sheraton Inn in Madison. Gail Modlin of
McGraw-Hill talked about "The Effect of Today's Technology on Business Education." "Spring Into the 90s" was the theme of the 1990 convention, the 41st convention, held at the Eau Claire Civic Center Inn, March 22-24. Keynoters came from Michigan: Ms. Marilyn Popyk from Henry Ford Community College spoke on "Success Begins with Me" and Dr. Scot Ober, Central Michigan University, helped us with "Defining Our Discipline." Members "Paddled Their Way to WBEA" at the Appleton Paper Valley Hotel on April 25- 27, 1991, the 42nd convention. They were moved by the Jackie Nink-Pflug's story of being hijacked and shot and laughed at famous area comedian, Ron Dentinger. The WBEA and N-CBEA joint convention was held at the Embassy Suites in Green Bay,
March 26-28, 1992. The Thursday hands-on workshops were popular at this convention that carried the theme, "Wisconsin—the Place for You in '92." In 1993, the convention, the 44th, "Business and Education: The Right Mix" moved to the Grand Milwaukee Hotel, Milwaukee, from April 22-24. Professional dues were raised from $15 to $25 this year. The Executive Board added another award, the Business Educator Achievement Award for members with less than five years' experience. The name of this award was later changed to the Lorraine Missling Outstanding Achievement Award.
About 500 members attended "Creating a Vision for Business Education at the Madison Concourse Hotel, April 21-23, 1994, the 45th convention. A policy forum with representatives from the Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Technical College System, and the Department of Industry Labor and Human Relations highlighted the program on Friday afternoon. In 1993-94, WBEA had 366 professional members, 63 student members, and 192 lifetime members. In 1995, WBEA members returned to the Embassy Suites in Green Bay for the 46th convention, "Spring Training for Business Educators." Students became voting members of WBEA in 1995.
The 1996 convention, "WBEA—Soaring on the Wings of Change," held from March 28-30 at the Oshkosh Hilton, provided both Thursday and Saturday hands-on workshops. The amount available for scholarships increased to $3000. Following the convention, the first annual summer newsletter, News and Views Letter, was sent to WBEA members. The Holiday Inn at Stevens Point was the location of the 1997 convention, "Business Education—Straight to the Point, the 48th convention. April 17-19 were the dates of the convention. The first WBEA home page was prepared by Sherrie Stuessy and stored at UW-Whitewater. The Milwaukee Area Business Education Association provided an additional $1200 to be used for scholarships.
Three hundred seventy-five members "Navigated Their Way to WBEA" at the LaCrosse Radisson on April 23-25, 1998, for the 49th convention. Ann Cooper from Central Carolina Technical College told members about "The Future of Business Education—Develop a Vision and Get a Passion." A decision was made to hire a Convention Coordinator for a salary of $2000 rather than asking the past-president to take over these duties.
"WBEA: Celebrating 50 Years In the Wright Place, at the Right Time" is the theme for the 1999 convention to be held at the Madison Monona Terrace, April 15-17, 1999. Keynoting the convention will be Dr. Mary Margaret Hosler, speaking about 50 years of Business Education. Five $750 scholarships will be offered to Business Education majors. A concern at this time is the shortage of Business Education teachers available. The Executive Board has voted to make News and Views a referred journal entitled Wisconsin Business Education Journal. Also, professional dues will be increased from $25 to $35. To keep up to date on WBEA events, members are encouraged to visit the WBEA website at http://facstaff.uww.edu/wbea/wbea/ Current membership 249professional members, 36 student members, and 195 lifetime and honorary members.
2000 marked the 51st year of WBEA. The convention was held from March 23-25 in (LOCATION) with a theme of (THEME). Membership at this time was 306 professional plus 45 students for a total of 541. The Fall Seminar was held on October 21 in Arcadia, Wisconsin. During this year the Russell J. Hosler Award was also started from the Russ Hosler Scholarship/Memorial Fund.
“Business Education: The Beacon of Success.” Matt Glowacki and Bryan Albrecht served as keynotes and focused on opportunities for personal and professional development. The Fall Seminar was held on October 21 at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau. During the year professional dues were increased to $40 from the original $35.
2003 was the 54th year of WBEA. The Spring Convention had a theme of “Business Education: Leading the Pack” and was held in Green Bay. There were 282 individuals in attendance. A Fall Seminar took place on September 27 at D.C. Everest Middle School in Weston, Wisconsin with a theme of “A Treasure Chest of Ideas.”
Business education was “Rapidly Changing” in 2004. The Spring Convention was held in Wisconsin Rapids from April 22-24. The Fall Update was held on October 2 on the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
In 2005 two conventions were held. The first was from April 21-23 in Appleton and the second was in Wausau from September 22-25. The theme for both was “Experience the Magic of Business Education.”
In 2006 the Fall Convention was held in La Crosse from September 21-23 with a theme of “No Bluffing, You can’t Top Business Education.” 185 business educators were in attendance and four scholarships were awarded. The 2006 Spring Seminar was held on February 25 at UW-Whitewater. The theme was “Brush up on the three T’s: Technology, Teaching, & Talking.
On April 21, 2007 Wisconsin business educators gathered for a seminar in Grafton. The “Don’t Just Dream It- Be It!” Fall Convention took place from September 27-29 at the Eau Claire Plaza Hotel & Suites.
WBEA decided to “Pay it Forward” in Waunakee, Wisconsin for the Spring Seminar on April 26, 2008. The 59th Fall Convention was held in Appleton from September 25-27. Five scholarships were awarded and at this time WBEA membership totaled 423.
WBEA’s 60th year took place in 2009. The Spring Seminar was held at Winneconne High School on May 2 with a theme of “Soaring to New Heights with Business Education.” The “Diamond Jubilee” Fall Convention was held in Stevens Point from September 24-26. Five scholarships were awarded at this time. For the year as a whole professional membership increased but student membership decreased.
2010 marks the year of WBEA history that began the tradition of multiple Spring B&IT Updates held in six locations throughout the state, one in each district. The Fall Convention was held from September 23-25 at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells. The theme was “Make a Splash in Business Education.” Three scholarships were awarded at this time.
In 2011 six Spring Updates were once again held in conjunction with the Wisconsin Marketing Education Association. Additionally, the Fall Convention was held in Green Bay from September 29-30.
In 2012, WBEA focused professional development efforts on the new Common Core State Standards for Literacy in All Subjects. This new set of standards was introduced in mid-September with the intentions of increasing attention on reading and writing, as well as other necessary skills in specific content areas within the K12 setting. The Fall Convention was held from September 27-28 at the Country Springs Convention Center in Waukesha. This year two WBEA scholarships were awarded to business education students.
In 2013, WBEA implemented new district realignment. The number of regions increased from six to seven, with some additional realignment of the previous six regions. The current regions were set up to align with the current FBLA regions. The 2013 WBEA Fall Conference was held at the Madison Concourse Hotel in Madison from October 10-11. This year’s conference spent time introducing the new Wisconsin Standards for Business and Information Technology, as well as strategies for dissecting them in order to create alignment with current curriculum.
In 2014, WBEA is proposing a new name and identity change to better represent the role of Business and Information Technology Educators in Wisconsin. It has been suggested to change the name from WBEA to WE BIT (Wisconsin Educators of Business and Information Technology). Business Educators will be voting on the name change in 2015.