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Architectural rendering of new culinary arts building

In May of 1996, the first and only bachelor of science degree program in culinary in the state of Mississippi was approved by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of High Learning. The Culinary Arts Institute at Mississippi University for Women was created and designed by a 14-person national advisory board that was chaired by alumna Vanessa Johnson (’79) who was head of the test kitchen at Southern Living magazine. Other notable members of the board included nationally televised chef Nathalie Duprie, John Bryan III of Bryan Foods and Proctor and Gamble consultant Marilyn Harris (’61). Viking Range Corporation assisted with igniting the program with a more than $40,000 donation for ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers, warming drawers and wok rings to the program.

Almost three decades later, JBHM Architecture was selected to design a new facility specifically for the next generation of culinary students at The W. The program’s current location dates back to 1910.

Shattuck Hall was originally a four-story senior dormitory and dining hall. The building fell victim to a fire in the early 1950s, and Shattuck was reduced to a two-story building. The northside of Shattuck is home to the culinary department which includes one kitchen area with multiple work stations and stoves, a single demonstration kitchen, storage, and walk-in refrigeration. In the midst of the semester, student chefs are often dancing and maneuvering around each other—careful not baste one another in their daily creations. What may look like chaos, turns into delicious creations.

THE NEXT 40,000

Rendering of the interior atrium of new culinary buildingTotaling over 40,000 square feet and two stories, the new facility will feature multiple kitchens, equipped with the latest commercial-grade equipment. Located in the center of the two large prep kitchens, students will access an island of stoves that will host dozens of stove eyes. Each island is surrounded by four different pods that will include a custom table equipped with cutting boards and washing stations.

Each pod will have a specific instructional white board for instructions and notes. They are strategically distanced to allow adequate space while maintaining instructional oversight. The two prep kitchens will be divided by three walk-in storage spaces, a dishwashing center and a dining room. Also found on the first floor will be a full-sized kitchen dedicated solely to baking with a linear layout and a chocolate room. Space in the kitchen or the classroom will not be an issue.

The new site will host a tiered classroom, demonstration kitchen with filming and streaming capability and a traditional classroom. An 80-person event space and commons area also will be found on the first floor for university events. Culinary students will have access to personal locker space upon entering the first floor. The second floor will feature an additional classroom, library with computer lab, two conference rooms and 10 offices for faculty. Located on the east side of campus replacing recently removed Taylor and Keirn Halls, the new culinary space will provide better logistics for delivery of fresh foods and supplies as well as provide additional campus parking. The first floor will feature a common area highlighted with wood cloud ceilings and front plaza area for indoor/ outdoor events.


Rendering of new kitchen spaceFor President Nora Miller, a new culinary building creates an abundance of possibilities for students and the university.

“With one kitchen, it's very difficult to schedule classes and give the culinary students the opportunity to really have as much experience working in kitchen. Now we will be able to have a food prep class, baking class and a traditional class simultaneously,” said Miller. “Everyone will have space, equipment and supplies. They will be in a professional kitchen and be prepared to succeed.”

The need aligns with one of the recently introduced priorities at The W. The university further dedicated itself to with the renewing of the Academic Excellence Priority.


Academics are at the heart of a W education. Our dedicated faculty, respected in their fields, champion a commitment to teaching shaped by their research, scholarship and creative expressions. Partnered with an equally committed staff, they foster a learning environment that is both broad and highly personalized. For The W, academic excellence results in graduates who are equipped for the competitive and diverse global economy. A new culinary building creates an active and personalized learning environment. Student chefs will have the opportunity to learn and practice in the best kitchens with the best technology and tools with personalized instruction. The result will be prepared chefs entering kitchens across the state and region sharing a taste of The W.

The new multi-million-dollar culinary facility will offer the opportunity to host more university events, guest speakers and lectures, and doors will be open for state and local organizations. University community members could partake in student-catered events, cookbook release parties and the always popular final’s dinner. Everyone will have the ability to taste courses from around the world in Columbus, Mississippi.

President Miller looks forward to that day. “Our campus is excited to see the new facility. I’m ready to tour it. I think it's going to capture students’ interest.”



In Focus: The W's Strategic Priorities

The University's Priorities:

Pillars of Purpose: Priorities 2021

In Fall 2021, a task force of 25 people from throughout the campus community revised the university's strategic plan, guiding The W for the next five years.

Priorities 2021

Academic Excellence:

A United Liberal Arts Voice

Academic Excellence

Advancement Excellence:

University Challenges Donors to 'Be The Light'

Advancement Excellence

Community Connections:

A Summer of Enrichment

Community Connections

Degree Completion:

Building a Bridge

Degree Completion

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion:

DEI Council Committed to Change

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Financial Sustainability:

Mise en Place

Financial Sustainability

The full plan can be found at www.muw.edu/priorities.