Rasmussen College History
A century of preparing students for success
When Walter Rasmussen founded Rasmussen College at the turn of the century to meet the needs of a growing business class, the world was a different place.
Streetcars and electricity were still new ideas when the Rasmussen Practical School of Business opened its doors to train secretarial and accounting students on September 1, 1900 in St. Paul, Minnesota. But, while the times have certainly changed in more than 100 years of operation, the school’s ability to prepare students to succeed has not.
The Aim and Purpose of Rasmussen Practical Business School is twofold:
1. To prepare young men and women for responsible positions in all lines of business.
2. To help pupils win their way to a noble manhood or womanhood.
Rasmussen Practical Business School Ad, 1908
Walter Rasmussen founded Rasmussen College at the turn of the century, to meet the needs of a growing business environment. Originally named the Rasmussen Practical School of Business, the first campus opened its doors in 1900 in Stillwater, Minnesota. The college was a welcome addition to the city’s landscape, where the promise of top-notch secretarial and accounting programs gave eager new students the skills to succeed in the new business climate.
Though the Depression hit Minnesota in 1929, Rasmussen College remained a strong establishment in Minnesota, continuing to offer programs and teach the emerging business class. Women were given the right to vote just a few years earlier, and their importance was now recognized in the workplace. As a result, the young women of Rasmussen College now sat side by side with young men, learning to become secretaries, clerks, bookkeepers, and stenographers. By the end of the 30’s, the economy had bounced back, and Rasmussen’s graduates were ready to meet the new business environment head-on.
When Walter Rasmussen retired in 1945, he named Walter C. Nemitz to succeed him as director of Rasmussen College. Nemitz had been with the school since 1934, as both a teacher and an assistant principal. Under Nemitz’s new leadership, Rasmussen College underwent a number of upgrades. By 1950, the college’s 50-year anniversary, Rasmussen had graduated more than 22,400 students. By 1960, Rasmussen’s students were not only graduating to become secretaries, stenographers, typists, accountants, bookkeepers and clerks, but also machine operators, and salespersons.
Between 1961 and 1980, it became clear that the traditional educational path was not always the most effective path. University graduates were having a hard time finding positions, while the demand for business trained secretaries and accountants skyrocketed. Because of the increased interest in business college graduates, Rasmussen College grew quickly during this time. Two new campuses were added, and the court reporting program was expanded to include a new business curriculum. By 1980, Rasmussen College was placing a high percentage of its students in the workplace - a trend that would continue through the present day.
One-hundred-ten years after the founding of Rasmussen, the college continues to stay true to its mission to be a leader in education by expanding its offerings to include Bachelor’s degrees, and by earning regional accreditation. Rasmussen College is also known as a leader in online learning, with more than 14,000 students and 1,000 faculty members. Plus, Rasmussen College goes the extra step for its students and helps them to find rewarding careers upon graduation and beyond. Through its continued commitment to its students and its communities, Rasmussen College will continue to provide exceptional educational options to help students build and shape successful futures.