Breech School of Business Administration History

The Breech School of Business Administration and Economics, established in May of 1957, and the Breech building which houses the Breech School were made possible through the financial commitment of one of Drury’s alumni, Ernest R. Breech. The Breech School’s curriculum, designed to provide a commitment to business education grounded in Drury’s liberal arts tradition, was seen as a new model for professional schools.    

Through the years, the Breech School has continued to maintain its foundation in a liberal arts, while strengthening its commitment to excellence in business education.  The School is a founding member of the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, (ACBSP) and holds Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation, (AACSB).  These accreditations demonstrate the high quality of the Breech School’s programs.

The strength of the Breech school has always been the dedication of faculty and staff to student education.  The history of the Breech School is revealed through the memories of alums as they recount stories about the faculty members who influenced their lives.  Names on that faculty roll call include Wilbur Bothwell, Jerry Poe, Charles Mercer, Curt Strube, Paul Rogers, Claudia Cox, and many others. 

Ernest Breech Biography

Ernest R. Breech (1897-1978), a native of Lebanon, Missouri, is remembered best today for his years as head of Ford Motor Company and Trans World Airlines, but these positions were only two of the many facets of his long and successful career.

Mr. Breech attended Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, from 1915 to 1917. At the end of 1917 academic year he moved to Chicago and took a position as an accountant with Fairbanks-Morse and Company. In 1921, he passed the C.P.A. examination at the University of Illinois with the highest grade, an event he referred throughout his life as giving him the greatest satisfaction of his business career. 

Soon afterward, Breech joined Yellow Cab Company, which merged with General Motors Truck and Coach in 1925. He was general assistant treasurer of General Motors from 1929-1933. From there he became president of North America Aviation from 1933-1935, and was later named president of Bendix Aviation.

In 1946, Mr. Breech became executive vice-president of Ford Motor Company, and from 1955-1960, he was chairman of the board and alternate chief executive officer. After a one year of leisure, in 1961 he took over the ailing Trans World Airlines and rebuilt it into a highly profitable organization.

Today, Ernest Breech is regarded as a model corporate manager. The School of Business Administration at Drury University is named in his Honor.

Breech 50th Anniversary Celebration

On Friday, October 30, 2009 members of the Breech School of Business gathered to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary. The night was filled with speeches commemorating the school’s history and honoring its founder, Ernest R. Breech. None other than his grandson, Robert Breech, made the ceremony’s opening remarks. He spoke warmly of Ernest Breech, referring to him as “Pop,” and told stories of Breech’s success in his many business endeavors.

Kelley Nichols, co-planner of the Breech 50th Anniversary Celebration said, “I was just so touched by the enthusiasm for the event from our alums, trustees and faculty and staff. Spending time with Bob Breech and listening to him that night made Ernie Breech so real—makes me want to make him proud!”

Photo Gallery: Breech 50th Anniversary Celebration

Bill Rohlf, Interim Director of Breech, made other remarks that evening. Dr. Rohlf introduced the faculty and spoke about the many achievements made within the Breech School of Business, including the school's pursuit to attain AASCB accreditation, one of the world's highest standards of achievement for business schools.

Two students also shared their experiences as business majors at Drury University. Lindy Harp, a senior Management and History major, spoke of her internship the previous summer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Harp is the first Breech student to do an internship abroad. Jordan Fry, a senior Management and Marketing major, talked about his experience with Drury's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team. SIFE is one of Breech's most prestigious organizations, and is nationally and internationally recognized.

A video tribute to Ernest Breech and the subsequent directors of the school preceded a closing speech made by Trustee member Jack Shewmaker. Shewmaker addressed the school's future and the unlimited potential of its students in the 21st Century.

Looking back, co-planner of the celebration, Jeff Jones said, "It was an honor to have an opportunity to plan and be a part of such a wonderful celebration. The success of the event, in large part, was driven by the enthusiasm of Breech alumni. We have such a storied history, and it was a delight to share this story with our constituents."