Think Tank

Apr 28, 2017, 22:40

Think Tank: The Degree that Never Ends

What can the graduate do for the school? Says Chef Sorgule, the proper question should be, What can the school do for the graduate?

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

Considering the ongoing questions about the value of a degree and the ever-changing landscape of the food business, I am constantly giving thought to how administrators of culinary programs can increase the perceived and real value of an education in food.

Everyone is certainly aware of the pressure pertaining to value being passed on to institutions from accrediting bodies, especially those preparing students for technical trades. The answer moving forward might very well be in shifting how we look at a degree.

For far too long, earning a college education was a two- or four-year process that students went through in pursuit of a degree. In other words, students passed through the college experience, incurring significant debt, with closure coming on graduation day.

The connections that continue to exist between the college and the graduate are limited to alumni newsletters, reunions and gift requests from the Institutional Advancement Office. We might invite an occasional graduate back to speak to a class or provide a demonstration, but, for the most part, the theme is: “What can the graduate do for the school, rather than what can the school do for the graduate.”

Think Tank: It’s All about People

Graduates will not remember many specifics of their educations, and will even realize that so much they thought would be important to their life paths isn’t. But they will remember those who influenced their learning in meaningful ways.

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

Another academic year has come and gone. After students walk across the stage, every administrator, faculty member, student and parent has an opportunity to reflect on the two or four years that went into making graduation possible.

Deans and directors are beginning to plan time into their summer schedules for review of curriculum, some overdue maintenance on kitchen facilities, completing outcome assessment materials from the year coming to a close, and justifying budgets nearing the end of a fiscal year.

Faculty are putting course materials to bed and cleaning offices as they head into some well-earned time off. Students are breathing a sigh of relief combined with that uneasy feeling as they enter the workforce, and parents are still glowing with pride—knowing that their son or daughter has just completed another phase in his or her life.

Think Tank: Changing the World, One Student at a Time

As their career paths become clear, students will inevitably emulate what they’ve experienced in our classrooms and kitchens. Thus, our responsibility is great. Which attitudes, aptitudes and beliefs do we want graduates to portray throughout their careers as a result of our actions?

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

As many schools head into the final stretch of an academic year, I thought that it might be an opportune time to reflect on the responsibility we share as a catalyst for positive change in the food industry.

Each student who walks across that commencement stage in 2015 and beyond could be a person who helps to make our industry that much better; a person who may very well define what it means to be a successful restaurateur, chef, research chef, pastry chef, teacher, author or advocate for food integrity in America.

As educators we have an obligation and a wonderful opportunity to set the stage for this to take place. Students will inevitably emulate what they experience in classrooms and kitchens as their career paths become clear. You can, and do, make a difference every day and should never lose sight of the power and responsibility that coexist.

Think Tank: Your Program Brand Is Important

Everyone benefits from a well-branded program—from faculty and staff who take pride in their institution to employers who are able to hire well-prepared graduates to donors who line up to be on a winning team.

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

Jeff Bezos, CEO of amazon.com, once said: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.”

What is most important about this statement is that brand, when built and executed properly, is bigger than your college’s marketing campaign, more significant than what is printed in your collateral pieces or what appears on your website. Brand is what people believe you to be. Belief involves trust and loyalty, two components of success that carry any business, in this case a college culinary program, to a level of success that is measured in decades of exceeding expectations.

Think Tank: What Will Culinary Education Look Like in 2025?

What can we learn from Detroit automakers, BlackBerry and Blockbuster? Technology and other factors are gradually changing how we cook, what we cook, how it is served and to which audience it appeals. Culinary programs need to begin planning today to meet the future needs and demands of an evolving marketplace.

By Paul Sorgule, MS, AAC

It might seem odd to be thinking about an educational model 10 years from now, yet most successful businesses build strategies based on what they know and what they don’t know about the future. As deans and directors, are you asking the right questions? Are you spending enough time thinking about tomorrow while still dealing with the challenges of today?

Who should be involved in these discussions? Thoughts about tomorrow should (must) include all stakeholders in the educational process, and even those businesses and individuals who may offer insight through totally different disciplines. The stakeholders would certainly include faculty, employers, students and leaders from other institutions of higher learning, but should not be limited to this cadre of people who are directly impacted by your planning.