|Motto||The Wildcat Way; Pride, Courage, Character and Community|
|Endowment||$263.78 million (2015)|
|Chancellor||Mim L. Runey LP.D.|
|Campus||Urban, 176 acres (0.71 km2)|
|Colors||Blue and white|
Johnson & Wales University (JWU) is a private university with its main campus in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded as a business school in 1914 by Gertrude I. Johnson and Mary T. Wales, JWU currently has 12,930 graduate, undergraduate, and online students across its campuses. The university is accred by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Johnson & Wales Business School was founded in September 1914 in Providence, Rhode Island. Founders Gertrude I. Johnson and Mary T. Wales met as students at Pennsylvania State Normal School in Millersville, Pennsylvania. Years later, both were teaching at Bryant and Stratton business school in Providence (now Bryant University) when they decided to team up and open a business school. The school opened with one student and one typewriter on Hope Street in Providence. The school soon moved to a larger site on Olney Street, and later moved downtown to 36 Exchange Street to better serve returning soldiers after World War I. The curriculum in the early part of the 20th Century included bookkeeping, typing, shorthand, English, and Mathematics. The school admitted both men and women.
In June 1947, founders Johnson and Wales, facing old age and illness, sold Johnson & Wales Business School to partners (and Navy buddies) Edward Triangelo and Morris Gaebe. At this time the school had roughly 100 students.
During the 1960s and 1970s, as Providence hotels and department stores fled to the suburbs, Johnson and Wales took the opportunity to expand its downtown presence. The university purchased the former Crown Hotel in 1966, the former Dreyfus Hotel in 1975, and the Gladdings Department Store building in 1975.
Morris Gaebe served as president from 1969–1989, and later Chancellor. Gaebe introduced the hospitality program in 1972, despite skepticism from the college's board. Enrollment in the program grew from 141 students in 1973 to 3,000 in 1983. Eventually the school's culinary programs became widely renowned. The college officially became Johnson & Wales University in 1988, known informally as JWU.
By 2016, the university had 16,000 students and more than 2,400 employees across campuses in four cities. Degree programs were offered in business, culinary arts, arts and sciences, nutrition, education, hospitality, physician assistant studies, engineering, and design.
On June 25, 2020, the school announced it would shut down its Denver and North Miami campuses at the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Johnson & Wales University operates campuses in four locations:
Two previous campuses in Charleston, South Carolina (opened in 1984) and Norfolk, Virginia (opened in 1986), were gradually consolidated into the Charlotte campus, starting in September 2003 and ending in May 2006 with the closures of the Norfolk and Charleston campuses.
In addition to the on-campus academic buildings and dorms, the university also operates hotels used as practicum education facilities for the university's Hotel & Lodging Management, Food Service Management, and Culinary Arts degree programs. The university also owns the Doubletree Hotel Charlotte-Gateway Village at the Charlotte Campus.
The Wildcat Center is the athletic facility of Johnson & Wales University. Denver was the only campus to officially have that name, until the Providence campus renamed its gym as well (formerly the Harborside Recreation Center) and the construction of the Charlotte campus athletic facility. It is home to the athletic program of this branch of the university, and was home to the ABA's Colorado Storm in 2004. In Denver, Wildcat Center is located at the northwest part of the Johnson & Wales campus. The Wildcat Centers, fully renovated as of the summer of 2009, are NAIA and NCAA regulation size, and seat over 600. In Denver the fitness center has tripled in size, and the locker rooms have increased from two to four, to accommodate game day needs as well as general use. The Providence Wildcat Center is located on the Harborside Campus, and has many similar features. The fitness center is already large enough, at twice the size of the downtown center. The Charlotte Wildcat Center is located adjacent to the Cedar Hall South dorm building. The center covers 33,000 square feet and is the newest Wildcat Center to be built.
Providence now features the Scotts Miracle-Gro Athletic Complex, located on the Harborside campus, which hosts baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.
The Providence campus is home to the College of Business, the Hospitality College, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the College of Engineering & Design. This campus is home to several additional academic units: the Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate School and the College of Culinary Arts. It also has the School of Education, which offers specialized master's and doctoral degree programs. Students just entering the field can earn a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T. Program), and current teachers can earn a Masters of Education degree (M.Ed.). For current teachers who want to advance their degree, there is a doctoral program where they can earn their Ed.D. Johnson & Wales University also offers 11 online bachelor's degrees and nine online master's degree programs.
Johnson & Wales University is well known for its culinary arts program, but was first founded as business and hospitality programs. The university is the largest food service educator in the world. JWU is one of the top three hospitality colleges, according to the 2010 rankings released by the American Universities Admissions Program, which ranks American universities according to their international reputation. JWU is home to the 39th largest college of business in the United States.
JWU's academic year is divided into three trimesters, each 11 weeks long, where the standard fall and spring semesters are replaced with fall, winter, and spring trimesters. With the start of the 2018–2019 academic year, JWU is offering all graduate degree programs, except for the master’s level education programs, on a semester calendar. The conversion to semesters will be completed in fall of 2020 for all undergraduate, continuing education and master’s level education programs offered at the university. Classes are also offered during the summer months, creating a fourth academic period. This results in an earlier spring break and a typical summer break from May to September. During fall, winter, and spring terms, students usually take three to four courses a term. Students in the culinary program are enrolled in five nine-day lab sessions, which take place Monday through Thursday each week. Such courses are only available for full-time students.
The Providence Downcity and Harborside campuses currently offer membership in 15 fraternities and sororities as well as two social fellowships. These are organized within four groups who act as the governing bodies: the InterFraternity Council (IFC), the Panhellenic Council (PHC), the United Cultural Council (UCC), and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). While all of these organizations are nationally or internationally affiliated, the university oversees the Greek community on campus. Not recognized by the university, the Providence campuses are also home to a number of "off-campus" fraternities. Deeply rooted in tradition, some of these organizations make up the origins of Greek life at the university and continue to exist and recruit new members without the sanction of the school.
The teams of all campuses of Johnson & Wales University are known as the Wildcats.
Willie T. Wildcat (better known as Wildcat Willie) is the official costumed mascot. The suit was redesigned and revealed at the annual family weekend on October 16, 2013 as an early start to the school's centennial year (2014). Previously the costumes had been very different across the four campuses, but the new design replaced all former costumes. The new design came from Devon Tsinzo (Providence Class of 2015), who won the redesign contest. The new mascot was made by BAM! Mascots. Willie appears at home games, alumni events, and other special events. He is played by multiple students, meaning that JWU can accept requests for him to appear at many events. Although the various campuses compete either in the NAIA, USCAA, or NCAA Division III, Willie follows the rules of a Division I mascot, including never breaking character.
During the 1980s and 1990s the official mascot at the JWU Providence campus was Griff the Griffin, a creature with the head of an eagle, body of a lion and tail of a dragon.
JWU Providence (Downcity and Harborside) teams participate as members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Wildcats are a member of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, equestrian, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, sailing, soccer, tennis, volleyball and wrestling, while women's sports include basketball, cross country, equestrian, lacrosse, soccer, softball, field hockey, tennis, ice hockey and volleyball. The Wildcat men's ice hockey team competes as an associate member of the New England Hockey Conference.
JWU North Miami teams participated as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Wildcats were a member of The Sun Conference. Men's sports included basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and track & field, while women's sports included basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, volleyball and track & field. As part of the North Miami campus's closure in 2021, on July 28, 2020, JWU published a memorandum that detailed the discontinuation of all sports seasons and competitions there.
JWU Charlotte teams participate as a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) in the Eastern Metro Athletic Conference (EMAC). Men's sports include basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, tennis, and volleyball. JWU Charlotte Lady Wildcats Basketball team won the 2018 UCSAA Div II National Championship.
JWU Denver teams participated as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Wildcats were a member of the Association of Independent Institutions (AII). Men's sports included basketball, cross country, soccer, track (indoor/outdoor), and lacrosse, while women's sports included basketball, cross country, soccer, lacrosse, track (indoor/outdoor) and volleyball. Women's lacrosse was an affiliate member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
JWU Denver announced on February 21, 2017 that it would transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division III, a multi-year journey commencing with an "exploratory year" in fall 2017. The school plans to compete as a member of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference beginning with 2018-19 season, where it was paired up as a travel partner with the SCAC's Colorado College.
As part of the Denver campus's closure at the end of the 2020-21 school year, JWU announced on June 26, 2020 that all athletic programs there were terminated and that student-athletes were granted releases to talk with other schools.
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