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JCCC raises $3.29 million in support of a new culinary academy

Posted on Jun. 17th, 2011
Story by Julie Haas
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Johnson County Community College's Foundation has met the "Wysong Challenge" by raising $3,291,032 to support the construction of a new hospitality and culinary academy on the college campus.

The "Wysong Challenge" is a set of initiatives intended to distinguish JCCC's hospitality program at national and global levels. Former Kansas Senator David Wysong and his wife, Kathy, announced in May 2008 a $750,000 challenge gift to help raise funds in support of JCCC's hospitality program, which eventually included the construction of a new facility.

In 2010, the college's board of trustees challenged the Foundation to raise $3 million over 18 months to support the construction of such a facility. If the Foundation was able to raise the money, then the trustees pledged to give favorable consideration toward its construction. The monies would come from the college's capital outlay fund and capital reserves, which are restricted to capital projects.

At the trustees' meeting June 16, Kate Allen, executive director, Institutional Advancement, and Steve Wilkinson, Foundation president and CEO of Menorah Hospital, presented the results of the fundraising campaign to the trustees. To date, the Foundation and the hospitality management program have raised more than $3.29 million from almost 20 donors to support the new facility.

DLR Group, Overland Park, will provide architectural, engineering and food service consultant services for the new academy. The $10-million, free-standing facility will serve up to 700 students enrolled in the college's nationally recognized hospitality management program and provide space for noncredit classes and community activities, including new opportunities for workforce development and partnerships. Construction of the 40,000-square-foot building would begin in 2012, and the academy would open for classes in fall 2013.

"We're grateful to all our donors for their generosity," said Terry Calaway, JCCC president. "But we must give special recognition to the Wysong Family for giving us such a solid basis on which to raise funds."

Over the past few years, JCCC's culinary program boasted the National Student Chef of the Year in 2009; won the National Junior Chef Culinary Team competition in 1997, 1999 and 2002; saw students win six international Gold Medals in 2007; and provided the National Culinary Olympic Team in 2000.

This month, JCCC students Jordan Rainbolt and James McCausland, apprentices at Hallbrook Country Club, were selected as one of the five teams for the 2011 Student Culinarian Invitational. They are mentored by Edward Adel, assistant professor, hospitality management. This invitational is a fundraising event at the national convention for students who hope to attend the 2012 World Association of Chefs Societies International Congress in South Korea.

JCCC's is the largest apprenticeship program in the American Culinary Federation; its chef apprentices are employed in 79 locations throughout the metropolitan area as part of their education. JCCC culinary graduates include well regarded local chefs and nationally known chefs such as Kevin Rathbun, of Kevin Rathbun Steak and Grog Bar in Atlanta, who was named Chef of the Year for 2009 by Chef Magazine.

"We must also recognize Lindy Robinson, our dean of business, and Ona Ashley, director of hospitality management, for their tireless dedication to this project," Calaway said. "This new facility will strengthen JCCC's highly acclaimed culinary program and the college as a whole."