Updated July 7 at 9:26pm

Johnson & Wales a growing force in R.I. economy

Guest Column: John J. Bowen
Many people in the local business community are unaware of the positive impact the higher education sector has on Rhode Island. We have a total of 11 institutions of higher education – three public and eight private. In the fall of 2010, the three public institutions enrolled 43,412 students, and the eight private institutions enrolled 41,321 students, for a total of 84,733 higher education students in this state. Of these institutions, the University of Rhode Island is the largest public, and Johnson & Wales University is the largest private, institution.

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OPINION

Johnson & Wales a growing force in R.I. economy

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Many people in the local business community are unaware of the positive impact the higher education sector has on Rhode Island. We have a total of 11 institutions of higher education – three public and eight private. In the fall of 2010, the three public institutions enrolled 43,412 students, and the eight private institutions enrolled 41,321 students, for a total of 84,733 higher education students in this state. Of these institutions, the University of Rhode Island is the largest public, and Johnson & Wales University is the largest private, institution.

We are diverse – from our student bodies to a variety of academic offerings. Higher education brings in billions of dollars from out of state, and we provide a better-educated, more-diverse work force, including a large number of individuals from around the world.

We are charged with producing well-rounded, highly educated and experienced individuals for professional jobs.

Johnson & Wales University was started in 1914 by two women – Miss Johnson and Miss Wales. What began as a tiny secretarial school with two students and one typewriter has blossomed over the past century into a full-fledged university. We currently have four campuses, in Providence; North Miami, Fla.; Denver, Colo.; and Charlotte, N.C. We enroll more than 17,000 students, in programs from associate degrees to doctorates. In Providence alone, we have 10,849 full-time students (63 percent of our total enrollment), 2,077 of which are from Rhode Island. Of those full-time students, 1,090 (6 percent of our total enrollment) are in our graduate school.

Johnson & Wales students are from 49 states and 94 countries. Yes, 49 states. (If anyone knows a student in North Dakota, come and talk to me.) Approximately 44 percent of our students live on campus, and this year alone, we have committed more than $130 million for scholarships.

There is a common misperception I would like to address. Johnson & Wales is much more than a world-renowned culinary school. We offer degree programs in our College of Business, the Hospitality College, our School of Technology and our Graduate School, as well as our College of Culinary Arts.

Johnson & Wales has an entrepreneurial spirit, and we are constantly working with and listening to the business community for new ideas for relevant programs to offer our students. In fact, the College of Culinary Arts would never have existed if David Friedman, a prominent Rhode Island businessman, hadn’t approached the school in 1972 to ask us to consider offering culinary training as an academic program.

We are aligned with business. Over the past year, Johnson & Wales students participated in 3,700 internships at 1,600 host employers, and we sent 550 students to study at over 25 different international sites.

We are not only responsible for producing educated, experienced individuals for the professional work force: We also work hard to produce well-rounded, community-minded citizens.

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