Fashion school flooded with new students


Students walk out of The Kent State Fashion Building Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. The increase of enrollment has faculty questioning what this means for the constantly growing fashion school.

Felicia Guadagni

Kent State’s school of Fashion has increased nearly 20 percent in the last decade. The increase in the Fashion School student body has been a gradual process, but the challenges of handling such a large volume of enrollment continues to test students and faculty alike.

Fashion School director and professor J.R. Campbell said enrollment in the school accounts for 11 percent of Kent State’s incoming students, and the school’s total enrollment has increased from about 1,100 students in 2009 to about 1,700 students today.

Over the past eight years, the school has experienced an almost 20% increase in new incoming freshman each year.  

To put it in perspective, 465 of the projected 4,200 incoming freshmen for all of Kent Campus this year alone are fashion students.

“We are victims of our success, which is a good problem to have, but a challenge that we are dealing with,” Campbell said.

The Fashion School has gained popularity in recent years and furthered its reach nationally and internationally, with international enrollment jumping to about 120 students.

Assistant professor Nöel Palomo-Lovinski said the Fashion School is attractive to prospective students due to its affordable and accessible nature compared to other top fashion schools in the nation.

In addition, Campbell said the Fashion School’s numerous study abroad opportunities are a reason for the school’s presence amongst the top fashion programs in the United States.

However, while the increase in popularity of the school is positive, dealing with the increase in student body has been a learning process for everyone.

Campbell said classroom stress has changed the way certain classes are taught and has caused some instructors to alter their teaching methods.

Palomo-Lovinski said she has personally changed her teaching style and occasionally has to give up opportunities for collaborative in-class discussions due to the large volume of students in the classroom. She also said how some instructors for studio and lecture courses have implemented video demonstrations that are uploaded to Blackboard Learn in order to ensure everyone is able to attain the information presented in class.

Lauren Pfieffer, senior fashion merchandising major, has noticed the classroom changes due to the large influx of students.

“I think it is exciting because we do have a great Fashion School and it’s wonderful to have so many people passionate about it and pursuing it, but it is hard when classes have to be moved to other buildings to accommodate,” Pfieffer said. “They do have to expand in the future to help with this increase.”

Palomo-Lovinski agrees with the call for expansion, “we need a new building,” she said. “We have faculty sharing offices because we have so many.”

For now, Campbell said the focus is in tracking the need for specific courses and being proactive about advising students on classes to take.

While there is a benefit for both students and faculty to have a robust and diverse student population, he said he hopes to balance out and have enrollment hover at around 1,500 students in the upcoming years.

Felicia Guadagni is the fashion reporter for The Kent Stater. She can be contacted at [email protected]