Johnson and Wales is shutting down its Denver campus

Classes will end in the summer of 2021.
2 min. read
Johnson and Wales University, South Park Hill. June 25, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Johnson & Wales University's Denver campus is shutting down next summer.

In a video announcement posted on the web site of the Providence, R.I.-based university, Chancellor Mim Runey said that officials at her North Miami, Fla., campus, which also is closing, and in Denver had been unable to increase enrollment and find enough new revenue sources to reach the goal of becoming self-sustaining by the end of 2022.

"This is sad and challenging news," said Runey, who leads a university known for its culinary programs.

Johnson & Wales classes will end in the summer of 2021 at the Denver campus, which opened in 2000 where Colorado Women's College and later the University of Denver Law School once stood, and in Miami. The university will not be enrolling an incoming class this fall on either of the two campuses. Returning students there will be able to continue through the 2020-2021 school year and, if they are not scheduled to graduate by then, can transfer to the 106-year-old university's Providence or Charlotte, N.C., campuses or finish their degrees online or remotely.

Runey said changes in higher education have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The university projected a 15 percent decline in the number of U.S. high school graduates between 2025 and 2029 due to lower birth rates following the 2008 recession, and noted that distance learning technology is reducing the need for brick-and-mortar classrooms.

Alan Bilsborough, a university spokesman, said the board of trustees made the decision Tuesday and that plans were still being made on the future of the Denver campus grounds in Park Hill.

The campus's Centennial Hall, originally named Treat Hall and built in 1886 for Colorado Women's College, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The building, shuttered for 30 years, reopened in 2015 after Johnson & Wales completed a $17-million renovation to make it the heart of the campus with administrative and other offices.

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