The Culinary program at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) received shocking news when Michael Evans, Vice President of Academic Affairs, recommended a teach-out of the program in mid-January. In a memo sent to many students and faculty on campus, Evans said, “this means that all current Culinary students will be able to continue to graduation and receive the degree they have earned, but we will not bring in additional Culinary students in the fall.” This recommendation was met with outrage by the Culinary students, faculty, and supporters on campus. Widespread disapproval of the recommendation was expected, and an open forum was held on Monday, Jan. 30 in order for Evans to “share the rationale behind the recommendation and gather for a discussion,” as stated in his memo.
Everyone in attendance at the forum was met with seemingly good news when Evans announced he, SNHU President Paul LeBlanc and SNHU Provost Patty Lynott would “take a step back and rethink and reconsider alternatives to the recommendation.” Following this announcement, Evans asked the audience to give him opinions and suggestions about what the University could do better when it comes to the Culinary program.
Marketing for the program itself seemed to be a huge concern to students. Many of them mentioned when using online search engines, SNHU did not come up as a result when searching for culinary schools in New England. SNHU’s television commercials and the lack of Culinary students shown was also mentioned multiple times. Funding for the program has been cited as a major reason behind the teach-out recommendation. This led many people at the forum to wonder why The Quill, a fully functional restaurant on campus, was not being utilized more.
The idea of The Quill partnering with local restaurants one night per week was brought up as a possible way to help the program earn money as well as publicity. Sponsorships were also something to be considered. It was made clear that the teach-out recommendation was not due to lack of passion within the program, but rather declining enrollment rates seen around the country in Culinary programs, as well as high costs.
Debt rates are also seen as an issue, but students at the forum made it clear that they were willing to take on the burden if it means doing what they love. Spirits were lifted at the news that the teach-out will be reconsidered, but the decision is still up in the air. This leaves the Culinary program and everyone involved hopeful yet worried for the future.