Cascade Culinary Institute is five years ahead of enrollment predictions.
New plans are being set in motion as an increase in student enrollment has filled Jungers Culinary Center nearly to its capacity, according to Chef Gene Fritz, the director and executive chef of the Cascade Culinary Institute. Fritz is well aware of the situation CCI has been served.
“Currently, we have 200 students enrolled in the program,” Fritz said.
Because CCI is a program offered through Central Oregon Community College, the culinary program does not have the “privilege to have a selective process” when admitting student applicants, according to Fritz. If a student meets the minimum math and writing requirements, they are allowed into the program. This admissions process and the esteemed reputation of the Cascade Culinary Institute has led to this sudden increase of student enrollment in the program.
“We want to provide quality education over quantity of students,” Fritz explained, “We want to be a boutique-style, high-quality education facility.”
Jungers lacks storage space and sufficient areas for faculty members. Currently, five instructors are sharing one office space, and as enrollment increases at CCI and more instructors are estimated to be hired, the number of instructors to office ratio will rise, according to Fritz.
“First we would like faculty to have a safe area where students can meet with staff privately,” Fritz said. “We also need student space to allow collaborative learning among students.”
Faculty members are not the only ones who are expressing their concerns about the effects of the growing enrollment on Jungers Culinary Center. Culinary students like Gabriela Candia are feeling the restrictions of the overtaxed facilities.
“They only have 80 [lockers], and they are all taken up right now. So it’s kind of like, ‘where do I put my stuff?’” Candia explained. “I could go to my car, but what if I need something right then for class?”
Candia also expressed her concern about the faculty offices in Jungers Culinary Center.
“I needed to talk to Chef Darwin earlier in the term about some things and there were four other people in there and I am sitting towards the wall, mumbling to Chef Darwin,” Candia explained. “It is kind of uncomfortable.”
Right now, there’s no set plan for moving forward, Fritz said. While future plans for expansion are being discussed, the faculty and students have decided to make the most of their present situation.
“I don’t blame the college,” Fritz said. “We just grew faster than we expected.”
Emily Frances Kalei