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History of JWU

Johnson & Wales University (JWU) was founded as a business school in 1914 in Providence, R.I. by Gertrude I. Johnson and Mary T. Wales. From its origins as a school devoted to business education, JWU has grown to a junior college, to a senior college, and ultimately to university status.

JWU was accredited in 1954 by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

In 1963 the State of Rhode Island granted a charter that authorized the university to operate as a nonprofit, degree-granting institution of higher learning and to award associate degrees in accounting, business administration, court reporting and secretarial sciences.

In 1970 the State of Rhode Island approved a revision in the university’s charter allowing it to award baccalaureate degrees as well as associate degrees.

In 1972 and 1973 the university announced the addition of new associate degree programs in the fields of hospitality and culinary arts. This led to additional two- and four-year degree programs in the hospitality and food service fields.

In 1980 the university was granted a legislative charter to replace its previous charter and became authorized to award advanced degrees.

In 1984, a JWU campus was established in Charleston, S.C., which offered a variety of two- and four-year programs in food service, hospitality and travel-tourism. A JWU campus opened in Norfolk, Va., in 1986, offering one- and two-year food service programs.

In 1985, graduate degree programs were introduced at the university. Today the Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate School offers an MBA degree program, as well as master’s degrees in criminal justice and education. An Ed.D. in Educational Leadership is also offered.

The university officially changed its name to Johnson & Wales University in 1988.

In 1992, JWU opened a campus in North Miami, Florida, offering two- and four-year food service, business and hospitality programs. That year also marked the university’s formal establishment of the College of Business, The Hospitality College, the College of Culinary Arts and the School of Technology. A new emphasis on general studies was introduced with the development of the School of Arts & Sciences.

The university’s School of Technology offered courses in Worcester, Mass., from 1992–2002.

JWU received regional accreditation from the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) in 1993. In that same year, JWU opened a campus in Vail, Colo., which offered an accelerated associate degree program in culinary arts to college graduates. The year also marked the beginning of a four-year bachelor’s degree offering in culinary arts.

From 1994–2004 JWU offered programs at the Institute of Higher Marketing (IHM) Business School in Göteborg, Sweden. This joint educational agreement allowed business and hospitality students to complete one year of study in Sweden and finish their degrees at one of the university’s domestic campuses.

The university consolidated its institutional accreditation efforts under NEASC on June 30, 2000.

September 2000 marked the opening of the Denver, Colo., campus, which offers two- and four-year degrees in culinary arts, hospitality and business, as well as an accelerated associate degree program originally offered in Vail. In 2000, the Vail Campus merged with the Denver Campus.

In 2002, the university made a strategic decision to consolidate its smaller Charleston and Norfolk campuses to build a campus in Charlotte, N.C. JWU’s Charlotte Campus opened in fall 2004 and offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in business, culinary arts and hospitality. The Charleston and Norfolk campuses officially closed in May 2006.

Beginning with the 2008–2009 academic year, JWU’s College of Business and The Hospitality College eliminated associate degrees and began offering only bachelor of science degrees that allowed students to customize their education. This decision did not impact the College of Culinary Arts and the School of Technology.

In 2009–2010 JWU recruited, admitted and enrolled the entering class for two online bachelor’s degree programs in food service management.

In fall 2012 the university began offering a degree in counseling psychology, the first bachelor’s degree program offered through the John Hazen White School of Arts & Sciences. This was followed in fall 2013 by the addition of two more arts and sciences degree programs.

That same year, the university restructured into three colleges and three schools: the College of Culinary Arts, the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Management, the School of Engineering, the School of Online & Continuing Education, and the Center for Physician Assistant Studies (to be incorporated into a future School of Health Sciences).

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