FOCUS 2022: What's Next


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AT THE START OF 2018, Johnson & Wales University launched FOCUS 2022, a bold and ambitious strategic plan that will guide the university’s evolution for the next five years. FOCUS 2022 presents an exciting vision of what JWU will strive to be. It proposes to offer students an excellent education characterized by academic rigor and practical experiences. It envisions that JWU will be known for its exceptional and diverse faculty who are highly engaged in the most effective teaching and learning methods.

The plan calls for enrolling a diverse student body who will flourish at the campus of their choice by bridging classroom experiences with the opportunities that abound in and outside of JWU, and by having an experiential learning opportunity. Building on our global reputation in culinary, the plan commits to continuing JWU’s evolution to a university that provides students with opportunities in a wide breadth of industry-relevant disciplines through the creation of a new college devoted to an interdisciplinary study of all areas related to food.

JWU Magazine sat with Chancellor Mim L. Runey, LP.D., chief architect of the plan, to get her thoughts on JWU’s future.

Q: Each of JWU’s past strategic planning efforts has had a particular identity. FOCUS 2011, for example, was known for its famous triangle of Experience, Selectivity and Affordability. What is the personality, or identity, of FOCUS 2022?

A: The personality of FOCUS 2022 will center on a significant expansion of academic programs, many in interdisciplinary ways that will allow graduates to focus on multidimensional solutions to the complex issues we face in the world today. At the center will be the College of Food Innovation & Technology (CFIT) and other new initiatives that will raise our university to a higher level, so that students and graduates will have a better chance of realizing their full potential and becoming leaders in a variety of industries that increasingly demand employees with versatility, deep knowledge and experience across a spectrum of disciplines.

Q: You’ve chosen to call this plan FOCUS 2022. What is the significance of that name?

A: The significance of FOCUS 2022 is that it builds on our transformation that began in FOCUS 2011. That plan, too, was bold and innovative and it really changed Johnson & Wales as we had known it. Through that plan we became more selective in our admissions, enhanced our affordability for students and families across the economic landscape by substantially increasing institutional aid, and strengthened our commitment to providing students with practical experiences outside the classroom that enrich the experience in the classroom. FOCUS 2022 stands to accomplish a similarly ambitious agenda: For example, our academic portfolio will be significantly larger. We will have a dynamic College of Food Innovation & Technology. We’ll be the go-to institution for anything related to food. We’ll have a talented faculty who are known as experts around teaching and learning methods. We’ll have a global student body, as well as a more diverse faculty to support the population that we are enrolling at JWU. And we’ll have greater streams of revenue and stronger fundraising efforts. Even with those advances, Johnson & Wales University will still be known for its exceptional education that inspires professional success and lifelong personal and intellectual growth.

Q: One of the most exciting initiatives in the plan is the creation of a College of Food Innovation & Technology. Tell us about your vision for that.

A: Johnson & Wales is a leader, if not the leader, in food education. We began the College of Culinary Arts in the 1970s and over the years we earned our reputation as a worldwide leader in the field of culinary education. I see the establishment of the College of Food Innovation & Technology as the evolution of that education. It really brings us into a much broader conversation around food. Food touches our lives in so many ways — from business to culture, from the economy to the environment — and we have to create interdisciplinary work to begin to analyze today’s issues and seek opportunities to address them. We see our chefs working with social scientists, political scientists, physicians and business leaders in manufacturing and distribution, advertising and media to bring a comprehensive understanding to some of the challenges we face. We believe our foundation in food — unique in higher education — positions us to become the leader in the field.

Q: Another initiative that jumps out is the establishment of a Faculty Institute. What was the inspiration for this, and what do you hope to accomplish with its creation?

A: Johnson & Wales is a teaching and learning institution. [Retired] Vice Chancellor and Provost Tom Dwyer developed the concept around the Faculty Institute with this in mind: to encourage our faculty to have diverse conversations with experts about effective teaching methods and best practices in the industry, and to provide the opportunity for sabbaticals for faculty who wish to do research that supports effective teaching methods.

JWU Magazine / Winter 2019 Features:

Johnson & Wales is a leader, if not the leader, in food education. We began the College of Culinary Arts in the 1970s and over the years we earned our reputation as a worldwide leader in the field of culinary education. I see the establishment of the College of Food Innovation & Technology as the evolution of that education.

JWU Chancellor Mim L. Runey, L.P.D.

Q: Universities like Johnson & Wales that are largely dependent on tuition are constantly looking for new ways to generate revenue. What is the university’s approach to developing new revenue streams?

A: We’re already creating new streams of revenue by partnering with other organizations. The Food Innovation Nexus (FIX) is just one example where we’ve partnered with another group to explore and research opportunities around food and food products, and we’re already beginning to see some success there. To create additional streams of revenue for Johnson & Wales, a few things must happen. First, we have to develop and encourage a culture of giving among our alumni. We will get to know companies and foundations better and teach them about the work we are doing at Johnson & Wales that really makes a difference for future generations and why their investment in us is a win-win. We also have to explore our expertise in areas that allow us to develop programming that is in demand or programs that others may wish to acquire. Many opportunities stand before us.

Q: Woven throughout the plan are many references to a student’s lifelong connection with the university. How does that begin, and why is it important?

A: It begins with our faculty. Because of our smaller class size, faculty really get to know their students, and, in turn, our students greatly benefit from the industry connections our faculty have. This has led to great internship opportunities, as well as significant career growth for our graduates who have stayed in touch with faculty. What happens outside of the classroom — participation in clubs, organizations, Greek life and our intramural and Division III sports teams — also forms a deep and lasting connection to the university for our students. Our orientation team leaders from years ago, for example, have remarkably strong ties to the university. Those connections translate into a loyalty to the university and to the students who come after them through mentorships, classroom visits to share professional experiences, career networking, and financial gifts to JWU.

Q: The plan calls for every JWU student to have an experiential learning opportunity. How do you make that happen? What does that look like in a growing College of Arts & Sciences, for example?

A: It’s pretty easy to design experiential education opportunities for a culinary or hospitality student. But in arts & sciences, I think the opportunity is so much greater. If we understand that our definition of an experiential learning opportunity is broad, encompassing not only internships but directed educational experiences, study abroad, volunteer service, and club and organization leadership, you begin to see the possibilities. Our arts & sciences students have a broad range of talents that they bring to employers, and employers have already told us that they’re tapping A&S students for their ability to communicate and problem-solve, their strong team-building skills, and the versatility they bring to the workplace.

Q: What would you say to the university community, including alumni, about the promise of FOCUS 2022?

A: I’d say, “We can be successful only with your participation and support, so get on board. Embrace the plan and be a part of our transformation at Johnson & Wales.”