History in the making

Higher Learning Commission determines fate of culinary bachelor’s programs

By Lauren Lukens
Editor-in-Chief

Years of dedication, hard work and planning have gone into the creation of prospective culinary baccalaureate programs at Schoolcraft College, and this could all be made possible within the next year. On Oct. 20-21, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) will be on campus for evaluation. If approved by the HLC, three culinary bachelor’s programs could launch as soon as spring 2015.

(From left to right) Julianna Nicholas, Kelsey Mathias, and Cherie McBride put the finishing touches on pastries that will be served at the American Harvest Resturant in the VistaTech Building later in the day. Photo by Nathan Gartner.

(From left to right) Julianna Nicholas, Kelsey Mathias, and Cherie McBride put the finishing touches on pastries that will be served at the American Harvest Resturant in the VistaTech Building later in the day. Photo by Nathan Gartner.

“The idea of Schoolcraft having bachelor level programs has been a goal for me for quite some time. It has not been easy,” said Schoolcraft College President Dr. Conway A. Jeffress. “The legislation, the curriculum redesign, the staffing have all been ‘uphill,’ but that fact increases the satisfaction level geometrically.”

Several departments at Schoolcraft have worked together to conduct significant internal and external research to design and develop programs of study that will enhance kitchen skills, as well as prepare students for advancing positions in the areas of business and nutrition as they relate to culinary arts. In the process, a comprehensive environmental scan, which included a summary of current culinary trends, was distributed widely and used to guide program development.

“Folks need to understand that we are not just adding on a four-year degree. We had to actually build all of the systems in place here to become a four-year college,” said Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Richard Weinkauf. “Even though we are only offering three four-year degrees, we now have to operate like a four-year college.”

If all goes well, students who receive their associate in culinary arts from Schoolcraft, those who have an associate from another school and professionals that want to go back to college will have the choice to take CAP 303, which would be an assessment of one’s current skill set and preparation for business courses required to obtain a bachelor’s degree. After passing CAP 303, students would be given a pathway decision.

“It will give you 100 times more options,” said Robert Dicks, second year culinary arts student. “It will give you flexibility that the two-year program wouldn’t necessarily give you. You would also get management skills, be able to run and grow a restaurant, have focuses in dietary and nutrition—the whole nine yards.”

Those aspiring to be in one of the most prestigious culinary programs in the country would have the opportunity to join the Professional Chef Academy at Schoolcraft, which would consist of only 12 chef interns per year who would be evaluated, then chosen by an assessment team.

Chad Clark works on part of the ingredients needed to make vegetable lasagna. Photo by Nathan Gartner.

Chad Clark works on part of the ingredients needed to make vegetable lasagna. Photo by Nathan Gartner.

The assessment team would mostly involve Schoolcraft certified master and executive chefs who are the top in their field, have written their own books and are on National Federation Committees. These chefs are highly known and respected, such as Shawn Loving, a full-time instructor and the culinary department chairman at Schoolcraft, as well as the Certified Executive Chef for USA Basketball International.

“My hope for the four-year programs is that it will bring a different level of job opportunities,” said Loving. “Job opportunities are critical today. My number one goal and priority is for students to be able to find more jobs after graduating.”

The Professional Chef Academy would give students the choice of a Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Entrepreneurial Leadership or a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Nutrition and Leadership. Individuals that graduate from either program would have an American Culinary Federation credential opportunity, and those on the path to obtaining the Bachelor of Science in Culinary Nutrition and Leadership would also have the chance to be a Certified Dietary Manager.

Schoolcraft plans to offer a less competitive Bachelor of Science in Culinary and Dietary Operations Management. This program would prepare students for a higher paying job with better hours, such as a chef manager, dietary manager, food service director, nutritionist or restaurant manager, but would not give one Professional Chef Academy experience. These students would have the opportunity to become a Certified Dietary Manager.

All three programs would take full-time students about two years to complete, and each would include about 65 semester credit hours.

“There’s a lot of logistical planning to make sure everything flows properly without changing the success we’ve had with the 100 and 200 level courses,” said Chris Misiak, Certified Executive Chef, program coordinator and full-time instructor. “The purpose of the program is not just to create the program. The purpose is to give students a greater possibility of finding better jobs and having a better life. That’s the end point.”

While the first CAP 303 course is expected to launch in spring 2015 in preparation for full bachelor’s programs in fall 2015, these proposed programs are not guaranteed until the HLC approves them.

After over 50 years of offering a culinary associates degree and the creation of a new facility in 2003, including the American Harvest restaurant and Main Street Café, Schoolcraft is on the track to offering its first bachelor’s programs in history.

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