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After purchasing Johnson & Wales School of Business in 1947, co-directors Edward Triangolo and Morris Gaebe continued the tradition of teaching a thing “not for its own sake but for what lies beyond.” With their wives, Vilma Triangolo and Audrey Gaebe, they served as teachers, administrators, accountants, recruiters and even janitors. Despite long hours, personalized placement service and increased curriculum choices, enrollment actually declined in the first two years. Undeterred, the entrepreneurial duo were intent on anticipating the “jobs of tomorrow” and scrutinized the classifieds identifying “in demand” careers.

With Triangolo on campus ensuring things remained on course, Gaebe scanned local high school yearbooks, visited the homes of graduating seniors and talked to them (and their parents) about enrolling at Johnson & Wales. He frequently traveled to Washington, D.C. to study the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and based on data and trends they restructured programs and added relevant courses that would catapult graduates into exciting careers.

Hard work and innovative thinking began to bear fruit in the 1950s. By 1952, the year of Miss Wales’ passing, the school had doubled in size, and in 1954 earned national accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools — a coveted certification of excellence for private, career-oriented institutions.

Technological advances, civil rights and politics were changing the world and the future of education. The ability to identify the significance of events and the foresight to capitalize on them was a gift both Triangolo and Gaebe possessed. This and dogged perseverance allowed them to expand from a business school to a junior college in 1960.

This was just the beginning.