Cleary University History

A HISTORY OF INNOVATION… A HISTORY OF SUCCESS… A HISTORY OF CHANGE…
A HISTORY OF BUSINESS EDUCATION TO TRANSFORM THE AMERICAN MARKETPLACE

In 1883, Patrick Roger (P.R.) Cleary, an Irish immigrant, founded The Cleary School of Penmanship, to provide a vital business education for immigrants who were not welcome in other schools and workplaces. Cleary sought to give opportunity, a legacy he launched and which continues today on Cleary’s bustling campuses.

For nearly 150 years, Cleary University has welcomed any and all students eager to build skills that will be competitive in the marketplace. Cleary was the first independent college in Washtenaw County and the first college in Michigan to place a graduate in the public school system as a teacher of commercial subjects.

Over time, Cleary evolved in name and location to become Cleary Business College (1912) and later Cleary University (2002). Owen J. Cleary became president in 1940 and in 1952, was elected Michigan Secretary of State while continuing to lead Cleary College.

In 1968, the Association of Independent Colleges accredited Cleary as a college of business. In 1983, we moved to Livingston County, first offering classes at Brighton High School and later breaking ground for our own campus.

By 1989, Cleary’s accreditations were growing, to now include approval by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1994, Cleary launched a new accelerated, 13-month direct degree program for mid-career adults and by the next year, we were ranked among the top 20 specialty colleges in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. That same year, Cleary began offering online courses.

In 1999, Cleary launched its first three-year BBA degree program for first-time college students. The next year, the North Central Association accredited Cleary’s MBA program. 

In 2012, Cleary reintroduced its collegiate athletic program with men’s and women’s cross country and golf teams. A flurry of athletic offerings followed, including soccer in 2013, the same year the first Cleary athlete, Elaine Lowe, won a national championship (cross country).

By 2015, Cleary University became known as #2 in the state of Michigan for return on investment of all colleges and universities – and #11 in the nation among small universities.

In 2016, we expanded to include a Detroit campus and became known as a veteran-friendly university by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

Today

Cleary University ranks as one of the country’s Best Online Colleges by BestColleges.
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