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Johnson & Wales quietly seeking $15 million.

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. [05.26.04] — Set to open its Charlotte campus on September 7, Johnson & Wales University has been raising money quietly for a $15 million capital drive that will kick off publicly in the first quarter of 2005.

The drive, which is chaired by Jim Hance, vice chairman of Bank of America, already has raised $6.5 million, says Art Gallagher, president of the Charlotte campus.

Funds from the drive will help offset a $112 million investment by the Rhode Island-based school to create the Charlotte campus, which already has expanded its inaugural class to 1,200 undergraduate students from 900, and expects that to grow to 4,000 to 5,000 by 2007, Gallagher says.

The school expects its annual impact on the region’s economy to total more than $60 million when the campus is completed by 2007, when it will employ more than 250 full-time faculty and staff, he says.

Founded in 1914 in Providence, R.I., the nonprofit school has focused on culinary arts, and counts celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse as an alumnus.

The Charlotte campus will consolidate campuses in Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va., created two decades ago to provide training for chefs in the U.S. Navy.

In addition to a two-year culinary arts program that initially will enroll 600 undergrad students, the new campus also will offer a two-year baking and pastry arts program for 120 students, and a college of business and hospitality college offering two- and four-year programs for 270 students and 200 students, respectively.

Johnson & Wales initially will employ 110 full-time faculty and staff, half of whom are being relocated to Charlotte from Charleston and Norfolk.

Investment in the new campus includes construction of a new $40 million academic center that will house 16 kitchen labs, 24 traditional classrooms, administrative offices and support staff.

The school, which is located in Gateway Village, also is building a $25 million residential complex for 750 students that will include a 300-seat dining center.

It is spending roughly $15 million to improve leased space in Gateway Village for its library, bookstore, career-development office and academic services center, and another $5 million to relocate faculty and staff.

Funds raised in the capital drive, co-chaired by David Dooley, president of R.T. Dooley Construction and advised by Charlotte fundraising firm Vandever Batten, will be used to defray construction costs and provide scholarships for students.

At least half the students who attend Johnson & Wales, which also has campuses in North Miami, Fla., and in Denver, tend to be the first in their families to attend college, Gallagher says.

The school also borrowed $50 million in the bond market last summer and used some of the university’s $150 million endowment to help pay for construction costs.

The new campus plans to use nearby Frazier Park for outdoor recreation space, has an agreement with Gateway YMCA to let students become members for a year, and plans to build a recreation and sports complex in two to three years.

The school aims to field men’s and women’s teams to compete with colleges and universities that are members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, golf, softball, baseball and tennis, Gallagher says.

With nearly half its first class coming from the Carolinas, the school also is drawing students from big population centers such as California, Florida, Texas, Illinois and the East Coast, including its home state of Rhode Island.

The drive has received $2 million from Compass Group, which has its North American headquarters in Charlotte and is the biggest food-service contract operator in the world, and $1 million each from Wachovia and from the Bank of America Foundation.

Including in-kind contributions, Bank of American has contributed $5 million, Gallagher says.

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