New England Culinary Institute to Close After 40 Years

NECI and other culinary schools have struggled with declining enrollment

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The Vermont-based New England Culinary Institute is closing its doors after 40 years partly due to added challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

In an undated letter to the school community posted on the NECI website, President Milan Milasinovic said the school is discontinuing all credit bearing programs and will immediately start a teach-out of all those programs so that current students may complete them. 

"Unfortunately, the pandemic proved to be the burden that we could not overcome," Milasinovic wrote. "As directed by the State of Vermont we closed all our retail operations in March 2020, which severely limited our ability to continue to deliver a college level, hands on culinary education, on an economically viable basis."

NECI and other culinary schools have struggled with declining enrollment. NECI's enrollment dropped from 800 in 1999 to about 200 in the fall of 2017. This year it had just 25 students continuing from summer and did not enroll new students in the fall, Milasinovic said by email on Monday.

"Enrollment was deeply impacted by the pandemic," he said. 

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He told vendors in a Nov. 6 announcement, that the pandemic "proved to be the final straw" for NECI after multiple years of declining enrollment, an expansion of higher education offerings and the federal regulatory environment impacting higher education institutions.

The school tried to find a partner institution in New England but that was not viable, he said. 

Most of the students graduated at the end of December and remaining five students are scheduled to graduate by the end of April, he said. 

A closing date has not been set, Milasinovic said. 

The North Coast College in Cleveland, Ohio, will be the institution of record for New England Culinary Institute once the teach-out is completed, Milasinovic said.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott called the students' work an "inspiration to people everywhere."
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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