Brightwater culinary school hires new executive director

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,307 views 

Marshall Shafkowitz

Marshall Shafkowitz has been hired as the new executive director of Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food. The culinary school in Bentonville is a division of NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) and is the hub of the burgeoning 8th Street Market in the city’s market district.

Shafkowitz was previously the executive dean of Washburne Culinary and Hospitality Institute at Kennedy King College in Chicago.

NWACC made the announcement Thursday (Aug. 15).

“Marshall brings a blend of culinary and higher education experience to his new role at NWACC,” said Tim Cornelius, NWACC’s vice president of career and workforce education. “I am excited about the great opportunities and experiences ahead for our culinary students under his leadership.”

Cornelius had been Brightwater’s acting administrator.

As the executive dean of Washburne Culinary and Hospitality Institute, some of Shafkowitz’s work included developing and implementing the academic strategy for three programs, creating a program advisory council to assist in curriculum relevancy, developing a formal externship program, as well as expanding a new purchasing model and reducing academic expenses.

“I’m excited to be joining the NWACC family as the new executive director of Brightwater,” Shafkowitz said. “It is a rare opportunity to work with such a dedicated and talented team where I’m able to combine my passion and experience.”

Thursday’s announcement comes 10 months to the day after former executive director Glenn Mack abruptly tendered his resignation to NWACC President Evelyn E. Jorgenson. The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal reported later that NWACC prepared two options for Glenn Mack: resign or be fired.

Mack was hired as Brightwater’s first executive director in June 2015 after a nationwide search. He is now campus director of the Norfolk campus of the Culinary Institute of Virginia.

NWACC’s culinary school had been housed in the Center for Nonprofits in Rogers since 2009 but was relocated to a state-of-the-art facility inside the 8th Street Market — a repurposed former Tyson Foods plant — four years ago and took on the name Brightwater. The idea of the proposed academic shift for the program, NWACC said at the time, was to reposition its existing offerings to focus on farm, agriculture and nurturing the next generation of food entrepreneurs.

The expansion of the culinary school was made possible by three related grants from the Walton Family Foundation totaling more than $15 million. The grants helped pay for new facilities, enhanced programming, professional development, rebranding, equipment, staff and faculty.