Reflecting on 70 Years in Operation
Posted October 2nd, 2017

In just a few months, 2017 will come to an end, closing out Siba’s year-long celebration of 70 years in operation in the St. Louis region. It’s easy to look back on those years and think of the huge number of changes the school has undergone. At the same time, however, many of our core values are still intact and leading our mission today. So let’s take a walk down memory lane because while we’ve come a long way, we can’t wait to see how far we’ll go!

Stevens – The Institute of Business & Arts got its start in 1947 as the St. Louis affiliate of Patricia Stevens, a modeling and “finishing” school for young women. Patricia Stevens herself was a working fashion model, and there were many schools bearing her name around the country, but the one in St. Louis was operated by the Klute family. In addition to modeling and comportment classes, young women could also take courses that would aid in them in the post-WWII work world – think secretarial skills.

Over the years, Patricia Stevens’ catalog of offerings expanded to include not just short-term certificate and diploma programs, but also Associates and Bachelor’s degrees. The school’s longest-running programs, which are still among its most popular, are the Retail Management/Fashion Merchandising and the Interior Design programs. One other major change to this once-all-girls college was the addition of men. The school now functions as a completely co-educational environment.

Major changes came to the college in 2010. Previously, the school had never had a permanent campus. Although it’s always been located in downtown St. Louis, the location changed every 10 years into a new leased space. Alumni may recall our locations on Olive in the 80’s or at Union Station in the 90’s. In 2010, the school moved to its new, permanent location on Washington Avenue in the city’s revitalized garment district.

 The building, originally built in 1917 for the Gerorge E Keith shoe factory underwent a $3 million dollar renovation. At this time the school also changed its name to Stevens – The Institute of Business & Arts, or Siba, for short. The changes were made in part to reflect the modernization the college had been undergoing for years; from a modeling school for women to a co-educational college offering a full slate of Associates and Bachelor’s degrees.

Now, seventy years after it began, Stevens – The Institute of Business & Arts still honors a long tradition of service to the St. Louis region though its talented alumni, but today we also offer an alternative to students seeking a less-conventional approach to college. For us that means college leadership that’s nimble to the changing professional world and adjustments to curriculum to make students more marketable after graduation. It means honoring our long-standing commitment to small, nurturing classes. And it means cultivating an environment where students can feel free to be themselves.

Looking toward the next 70 years, Siba is sure to see more changes, because as we all know the only constant is change, and we welcome the challenge!