Fashion degree program cut due to low graduation rates

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Professor Marguerite Erlandson and students in the Textiles class one week after the announcement of the program’s discontinuation. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez
Professor Marguerite Erlandson and students in the Textiles class one week after the announcement of the program’s discontinuation. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez
Professor Marguerite Erlandson and students in the Textiles class one week after the announcement of the program’s discontinuation. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez

By Kayla Tucker – A&E/Features Editor

What now exists as the Fashion Merchandising degree at Grand Rapids Community College is being discontinued. The announcement was made by Provost Laurie Chesley at the March 16 Board of Trustees meeting.

A noticeably small number of graduates and a “lacking of a clear focus” were the strong points for the discontinuation of the program, according to Chesley.

Last year, four students graduated from GRCC with a Fashion Merchandising degree.

“I feel it’s a great loss to the college,” said Marguerite Erlandson, Associate Professor of Fashion and Interiors, who was informed of the administration’s decision to discontinue the program in a letter from Chesley dated March 13.

Chesley said that students enrolled in the degree program will “receive a communication soon from the college” about how to complete the program at GRCC.

“The students…are going to be communicated with and given time to finish the program that they started,” Chesley said. “It doesn’t mean that there can’t be a different kind of fashion certificate or degree brought forward at the college.”

The next decision to be made is whether the college will make the fashion courses into electives or the degree will be reconstructed to be more applicable and transferable. Erlandson is hoping for the latter.

“(What I’d like is) to recreate some of our programs, continue some of our classes and come up with new classes,” said Erlandson, who describes herself as an “eternal optimist.”

Erlandson said she has not been informed of her employment status or the schedule of fashion courses for next semester.

Chesley said that the college will need to have a discussion soon to make the technical decisions. The time of the discussion has yet to be announced.

“It could be reasonably expeditious, it could be a longer discussion,” Chesley said. “It all depends on how the department wants to take this up, how long it takes to examine alternatives that might lead to better outcomes, (like) more jobs for students or better transfer for students…It’s really hard to predict how long that will take.”

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