You might remember that creative cake we featured last month, a commissioned creation of the South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) Pastry and Baking Arts program. This month, students, instructors, and supporters of the program are dealing with some not-so-sweet news: The program may be on its last legs. After getting word of this a few days ago, from a student who said, “The chefs told us … and it was a room full of crying people. A program that has been around for decades will be gone.” We sought confirmation from the college and received this statement today as confirmation:
After completing a program viability process, South Seattle College’s Vice President of Instruction (VPI) has made the recommendation to close the Pastry & Baking Arts program.
The VPI’s recommendation is based on low enrollment and high costs to administer the pastry program as the college addresses a challenging budget environment. The recommendation is not a reflection of the quality of the program or instruction provided to our students.
If the decision is made to close the program, the Office of Instruction’s main focus will be supporting currently enrolled students. Options to be considered include running the program until current students are able to complete their degrees or certificates, and transferring students to similar programs in the area. Human resources will provide support to impacted faculty and staff.
The VPI’s recommendation is made to the college president, who then makes the decision on whether to recommend program closure to Seattle Colleges’ chancellor. The chancellor makes the final determination.
Special Cabinet Meeting on April 10
South Seattle College’s president and cabinet are holding a special meeting from 2 to 3 p.m. on April 10 in the President’s Boardroom (RSB 30) to hear from Pastry & Baking Arts faculty, students, alumni and supporters. The meeting is open to the public. That feedback will help inform the president’s decision on making a closure recommendation to the chancellor.
A program graduate who contacted WSB says supporters plan to be there en masse to make the case for keeping the program. This is not the only manifestation of budget challenges at the college – before spring-quarter enrollment, some planned classes in unspecified areas were canceled, the college confirmed to us. Communications director Ty Swenson had told WSB at the time, “Looking at the big picture, South and many other community colleges have seen declining enrollment over the past several years with a strong economy and low unemployment (which typically drives potential and current students into the workforce instead). At the state level, funding for the community and technical college system has steadily declined. Locally, we’ve seen the cost of living rise dramatically in our service-area neighborhoods, causing lower and middle-income families we traditionally serve to move out of the area (which can also impact enrollment).”