This archived article was written by: Nathan Manley
Riding the wave best describes USU Eastern’s cosmetology department which has proven an uncertain tidal wave in recent weeks. Rumors of cancelling the program altogether became a sobering reality for instructors and students three weeks ago. But after a barrage malcontent, an all-faculty/staff meeting, phone calls and emails from the governor’s office, legislators and community representatives, the decision was overturned to keep the program on Monday.
According to a press release, Chancellor Joe Peterson said many factors went into clipping the program. Many schools across the state are making cuts due to overwhelming deficits in their budget, and USU Eastern is no exception. Salt Lake Community College is still dealing with the fallout after cutting cosmetology one year ago.
Another area of concern is the job market and wage after graduation. Statistics from the Department of Workforce Services are not in favor of cosmetology graduates, but this is up for debate by many professionals in the industry.
During an advisory board meeting for cosmetology on Monday night, Robin Quinn, General Manager of Great Clips, spoke of a much brighter future for graduates entering the job field. Varying starting wages are outweighed by benefits, which include a 401K. Quinn says, “associate’s degree holders are more qualified and ready for continued training and promotion opportunities.”
Price City Mayor Joe Piccolo understands the challenge of convincing the academic community the value and worth that these vocational programs have in the community. The automotive program was on the chopping block 10 years ago, but a similar decision to keep the program has proven effective over subsequent years. He said, “the demand for those jobs is overwhelming, and colleges like USU Eastern must meet the demand first.”
Piccolo suggested to the board, a focused effort on continuous growth of the program. Coming up with a budget is key to successful growth in the future. Following up with a two- and five-year budget review with the advisory board.
Bottom line is the perpetual demand for educated individuals in the cosmetology industry, and the responsibility that colleges have to meet those needs. Associate professor Debbie Prichard appreciates the ideas presented by the committee and is looking forward to continuing and growing the program in the next years. She starts interviewing local students who want to be in the program next week. She is also working with three high schools in the Salt Lake Valley to help their students complete cosmetology training.