Johnson and Wales, Providence (visited 4/29/19)
This is an amazing college for students wanting a solid education with hands-on components, students who want “to try new things, to succeed and even fail. We support them and help them transition.” Students start with their major on day one – but can work with their advisor to change. They can figure it out early if it isn’t the right fit. “This is the place to come if you want to learn and get a job. Students get hired.”
J&W’s Providence campus is the flagship (with other campuses in Charlotte, Denver, and Miami). When students apply, they pick a campus but are accepted to all four. The school was founded by 2 women in 1914 before women were even allowed to vote – yet they started a major university as a business school to build opportunities for women and provide them with relevant skill sets in the work force. They still have strong business programs, including Equine Business Management (with Riding or Non-Riding options), Advertising & Marketing Communications, Fashion Merchandising & Retailing, and Restaurant/Food/Beverage Management.
The Providence campus now offers 70 programs (majors vary a bit between campuses). Students are allowed to move between campuses, assuming their major is offered at the other location. The university offers Associates (Baking & Pastry or Culinary Arts) through Doctoral (Education) degrees. Students in the AS programs can roll into a related Bachelor’s program in the same or similar majors, including Food Service Management, Culinary Nutrition, Tourism & Hospitality Management, Dietetics & Applied Nutrition, or Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship.
The university also continues to grow and try new things, as well. In the fall of 2019, 2 new majors are being implemented: Integrated Product Design and Comp Sci. In the fall of 2020, 4 more will begin: Sustainable Food System, Biomedical Science, Economics, and Create Your Own. They also offer accelerated Master’s Programs in areas like Addiction Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Organizational Psychology, Data Analytics, Information Security/Assurance, MBA, Global Leadership & Sustainable Economic Development, and Sport Leadership.
Classes are capped at 40 (some are capped at a lower point because of the physical work space), but class size averages only 21. Faculty members are experts in their field, many of whom have worked in the industry before coming to campus. They can help with networking, internships, and jobs. J&W has cultivated relationships with multiple companies and has over 1000 internship sites. Students can start interning as early as sophomore year (but junior year is more common).
Providence’s campus is split into two parts about 3 miles apart (less than 10 minutes depending on traffic), and students can live on either one regardless of where their classes are held. There is a separate equine center located about 25 minutes away (actually across state lines in Massachusetts!) with regular shuttles running up there.
Student parking is located on the Harborside campus because of space issues, and shuttles run regularly between the two sites. We had breakfast in large meeting room in a building that has a dining hall and a res hall. Some of the students have rooms that overlook the water! This campus also has the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. Their culinary program is absolutely phenomenal! All aspects of the trade are taught. For example, students take a mixology lab: they use colored water instead of actual alcohol (“it would get prohibitively expensive to keep dumping alcohol down the drain,” said our tour guide). For their final exam, they dim the lights and blare music to mimic the industry. They have to prepare 12 drinks in 12 minutes. There’s also restaurant on site that serves lunch and dinner to just over 60 people. Students in a sophomore-level class work the restaurant and rotate through all aspects of it to learn everything from table set-up to service to food prep. The dessert comes from the Baking & Pastry labs. Students rotate through all sorts of labs; materials and uniforms (collar colors indicate different programs and progression: the lighter the color, the further along a student is) are included in tuition. Students learn how to use everything and not waste things. They use cuttings as garnish, they’ll dry and grind up leftover vegetables for powers to flavor dishes, etc.
The Downcity campus takes up 6 city blocks; the same amenities are on that campus including a pretty residential quad. They even have a pet-friendly floor! There is a bit of commuter parking at this campus, but it tends to be pricey. Providence has great arts, music, and restaurant scenes. This is a great college town with several universities nearby (including Brown, RISD, and Providence College), so places cater to students. For example, there’s a nearby event center that sells tickets at 50% off 2 hours before showtime.