Making History: Unique Education with Global Reputation

In 1980, University President Morris Gaebe said, “Johnson & Wales is the fastest-growing college in [Rhode Island] because we have a unique kind of education known as career education. Society today is interested in jobs.”

In 1979, Donna Fantetti (Yena) creates  “Career Days,” a new signature event for JWU’s growing Career Development Office.

The college offered programs that were not available at traditional liberal arts schools. Concepts like “upside-down curriculum” allowed students to take courses in their major from day one, and the “four-day week” helped students to work on Fridays and weekends when the demand was greatest in the food service industry.

Students Gain Work Experience
In 1979, John Bowen ’77, JWU’s future chancellor, started the co-op program to provide the industry experience expected of culinary graduates. Bowen’s innovative programs brought a number of companies to campus to recruit students. He also spearheaded the first International Student Exchange Program and launched the first international co-op in 1981.

Less than a decade old, the culinary arts program was solidifying its reputation. In 1979, J&W hosted the American Culinary Federation’s National Culinary Olympic Team. A year later, the Distinguished Visiting Chef (DVC) program brought the first in a series of noted culinarians to campus.

In 1979, Donna Fantetti (Yena), a new member of the Career Development Office, created “Career Days,” employer open houses where students could connect with prospective employers.

Establishing a Campus in the Heart of Downcity
The 1990s ushered in a period of growth and change for Johnson & Wales.

President John Yena and Providence city officials kick off construction for Gaebe Common as Johnson & Wales is granted university status.

Under the guidance of urban designer Andres Duany, university officials and business leaders met in 1991 to envision an institutional hub for downtown Providence. Three years later, Gaebe Commons became the heart of the Downcity Campus.

In 1992 J&W established its College of Business, The Hospitality College, College of Culinary Arts, School of Technology and School of Arts & Sciences.

JWU Becomes a University

A Rhode Island legislative charter granted Johnson & Wales university status, and in 1993 JWU received regional accreditation from the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and a 6-year renewal of its national accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS).

In the same year, the College of Culinary Arts launched a bachelor’s degree program — the first of its kind in the US — and community service-learning became a requirement for graduation.

New Campuses in North Miami, Göteborg and Vail
The decade also saw expansion to North Miami in 1992 for the first full-service campus beyond Providence, with culinary, business and hospitality programs.

JWU’s educational influence moved overseas as well, through a partnership with the Institute of Higher Marketing (IHM) Business School in Göteborg, Sweden, establishing a campus base that lasted until 2004.

In the summer of 1993, JWU opened a campus in Vail, Colo., for an accelerated associate degree program in culinary arts.

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