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Breaking Ground to Break into the Future

Summer 2008 | Archives

Institute for the Culinary Arts Celebration was in the air and shovels hit the dirt at the official groundbreaking for the Institute for the Culinary Arts and Alumni Conference Center on May 22 at the Fort Omaha Campus. MCC staff, faculty and administration as well as students and community members gathered for the event that marked the formal kick-off to the project.

The project will create a new main entrance to the Fort Omaha Campus located off Sorensen Parkway. While reflecting the Fort´s importance to the area, the entrance will complement the redevelopment efforts of the North Omaha Development Project.

Near the new entrance and easily visible from Sorensen Parkway, construction has begun on the new 38,000 square foot Institute for the Culinary Arts and Alumni Conference Center. The new building will allow the Culinary Program to grow from its current 9,000 square feet to approximately 17,000 square feet with state-of-the-art facilities rivaling those at other national programs.

The Alumni Conference Center spans the building´s second floor and offers much-needed conference space for up to 800 people, allowing alumni and other guests to offer students hands-on learning experiences through their conferences and events. According to the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, North Omaha is underserved in terms of quality dining and meeting and conference centers. It lacks a central convening place for people to gather, learn as large group and celebrate their accomplishments. A bistro with seating for 80 will also be open to the public.

Enrollments at the Institute for the Culinary Arts have grown steadily over the last decade and are projected to continue growing into the future. Student demand has already outpaced the Institute for the Culinary Arts facilities capacity. Though classes are currently offered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. with some online classes available, the College is unable to offer the number of classroom sections needed, and waiting lists are growing.

Adding to the facilities demand, Metropolitan Community College alumni and others in the workforce must update their training and skills each year. To meet this need, the Institute has developed a flexible array of short-term continuing education workshops. The growth of this aspect of the program has been limited, however, due to the need to offer classes at off-campus community locations where equipment and facilities are not state-of-the-art.

At the same time, Omaha´s economy is abounding with agriculture-value-added industry. Currently, restaurants and businesses must send their chefs to other cities and states because MCC isn´t able to offer the state-of-the art industrial training programs that could keep their employees working, learning and living right here in Omaha.

A learning place, a training place, a gathering place—the Institute for the Culinary Arts and Alumni Conference Center will be that place. The building is scheduled to open in November 2009.

Who attends MCC´s Institute for the Culinary Arts?
  • Students are from 27 states and 9 countries
  • More than 25 percent of students are minorities
  • Males and females participate in the program in equal numbers
  • 1/4 of students already have advanced degrees upon starting

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