Food for Thought

In September of 2015, Johnson & Wales University named Robert C. Mock Jr., 50, as president of the university’s Charlotte campus. Mock brought a wealth of higher education experience to the role, as well as big and creative ideas for the university. We caught up with him on campus to talk programs, plans, and where he likes to dine.

dsc_1678Tell us about new programs you’re working on to expand student offerings.

I’ve been able to establish a three institution relationship between Johnson & Wales, UNC Charlotte, and Johnson C. Smith University allowing our students and JCSU’s students to participate in the established ROTC program at UNCC. This is a win all around. The students get the ROTC curriculum and credits and we’re able to add attractive programming using shared resources.

I eat regularly with the students to hear directly from them about concerns and challenges they face. One issue they raised was not having enough to do on campus. They said they wanted more opportunities with Greek letter organizations. I engaged Alpha Phi Alpha, the oldest African American Greek Letter organization in America, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council to hold an open forum session on campus one evening last December. We had standing-room-only crowds and this fall we’ll have four additional Greek organizations (they currently have three) starting on campus.

JWU is known primarily for its culinary programs, but the university has other offerings. Can you speak to that?

I want people to know that we are much more than a culinary school. We have over a hundred year history in higher education with roots back to 1914. Clearly the branding of our institution is culinary. We’re very proud of the fact that we’re able to impact the very culture and health and welfare of the Charlotte community. We have almost 2,300 students and almost half are enrolled in Bachelors degree programs outside of culinary.

Where do you like to dine in Charlotte?

Charlotte is a great restaurant town with many of our student and graduates helping shape the dining scene. I love Heirloom where chef-owner Clark Barlowe (JWU ’09) has a great menu and delightful ambience.