Culinary school development sparks controversy for community college
- A $26 million investment in a culinary school extension of Niagara County Community College has turned into a federal lawsuit and federal inquiry into bid mismanagement, low enrollment and drained resources.
- The Buffalo News reports on the mounting criticism of NCCC President James P. Klyczek, who spearheaded the development of the school's Culinary Institute, which has failed to enroll even half of the projected 1,000 students it needed to break even in equipment and construction costs to the school.
- Former administrators accuse Klyczek of siphoning academic resources from other schools and departments to support the failing extension, which has led to dwindled faculty positions and a board discussion of his future status at the college.
NCCC leadership saw an opportunity in workforce development and support through culinary arts as a needed element for local industries which required catering and food service. This kind of industrial strategy is expected in higher education, but also requires long-term vision on financial management in the events of enrollment downturn, legislative divestment or changes in industry.
Colleges have the infrastructure necessary to adjust to social and industrial changes, but leadership must be constantly watching for these changes and working with lawmakers, donors and faculty to get comprehensive feedback and buy-in for growth and partnership building.