"Kevin Duffy, dean of the College of Culinary Arts in
Providence, beams with parental pride watching two dozen
former teaching assistants and fellows making themselves
a buffet luncheon at a reunion in April at the Harborside
Campus in Providence.
“Hey Jimmy, you look like you know what you’re
doing,” he teases JWU Associate Provost Jim Griffin,
EdD, ’88, ’92 MS.
Set in motion by Keith Boston ’85, with the help
of former program administrator, Barry Vogel ’83, now
North Miami Campus director of administration, the day’s
events included the group lunch, a tour of many changes
on the Providence Campus and an evening reception at
the Culinary Archives Museum.
The alumni reuniting were teaching assistants and
fellows during the 1980s, when the program was in its
formative years. They worked alongside chef instructors,
bridging communications between students and faculty.
“They were our retention program back then, the best
of the best,” Vogel says. “They made an impression on
Though culinary TAs, this was also the group that
“opened” JWU’s first practicum properties: the
Gustatorium, The Rhode Island Inn (now the Radisson)
and the Johnson & Wales Inn in Seekonk, Mass. “They
helped create the history of success that has grown to let us
become the leader of today,” says Vogel.
Duffy, a faculty member in the late 70s when the first
teaching assistants and fellows took to the kitchens, notes
the ease and interaction around him.
“It’s tremendous the bonds they formed,” he says. “Just
to see them walking in after 20 years is exciting. There are
a couple hundred years of experience here.”
“We had a group that made amazing contributions
to the College of Culinary Arts,” Vogel adds. “We didn’t
always have time to acknowledge people’s contributions in
the 80s while the university was growing. This is overdue.”
Returning to Offer Sage AdviceBy Shannon Robbins
In the five years since its creation, Alumni Leaders Week has established
itself as a valued JWU tradition. “I love Alumni Leaders Week,
and I always enjoy interacting with the students. We should have more
of this type of activity,” declares Eric Singleton ’99, director of food
services for Village South, who returned to the North Miami Campus
to speak to culinary students about his food service career.
Alumni Leaders Week is a special occasion for both participating
alumni and current students. “Sharing my knowledge of the business
and the various things I have done in the industry meant all the sweat,
tears and back-breaking days and nights I have put in over the past
19 years have been well spent,” says Steven Steltenpohl ’97, chef at
Discovery Diner at Epcot Center.
Meeting with successful JWU alumni inspires students to believe
that they, too, can succeed in their chosen field. “Student engagement
was generally high,” notes Terrence Williams ’89, VP of human
resources and organizational development at The New York Times. “I
encountered many students who were very passionate about their JWU
experience, and I believe that they will ultimately succeed if they learn
how to harness this passion.”
Participating alumni used the occasion to offer advice, such as
travel-tourism graduate Luisa Mendoza-Chavez’s ’03 rules to live
by: “One, never forget where you came from and those who help you
along the way; two, remember to always pay it forward.”
Some also used the time to recruit students for employment.
Canteen Catering LLC owner, Mary Fabrikant ’04, made a couple of
great student contacts for internships next year and catering assistance
throughout the summer while at the Denver Campus.
Now a perennial spring favorite, Alumni Leaders Week is sure to
continue expanding in the future.
A shining example of JWU’s focus on career education, alumni
and students alike appreciate the opportunity to share real-world
experiences. “Johnson & Wales is much more than a college,” explains
Providence Campus grad Anthony Ippolito ’99. “Yes, it teaches students
the fundamentals needed to pursue a chosen career path, but the
life experiences learned make for a better overall person of tomorrow.
Johnson & Wales does that.”