No Cutting Corners, USU Eastern’s Cosmetology Program Back on Track

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After being revived from the dead, the USU Eastern Cosmetology program is looking forward to not only surviving, but also building itself into a growing and vibrant community asset.

Tuesday afternoon, a small and dedicated group of community members gathered in the SAC building on Eastern’s campus to form an advisory board.

Cosmetology Director Debbie Prichard welcomed the gathering and thanked the community for its support and help. She explained that the focus of the advisory board would be to ensure the quality education the cosmetology program offers continues and enhances the campus mission.

Much of the discussion focused on the need to make sure the program continued to provide a quality education while allowing students who might not feel they are ready for a more traditional path to a college degree a way to participate in the secondary education experience. Since the program primarily enrolls young women, it can be the stepping-stone for women to begin the journey to self sufficiency and educational opportunities.

Pritchard introduced Suzanne Simmons, franchise owner of eight Great Clips stores along the Wasatch Front. Simmons will be opening a new shop in Price in the near future. She felt it was important to dispute the workforce services statistics that were used to originally close the program.

Great Clips is one of the largest employers of cosmetologists in Utah with over 60 stores and 600 stylists, and growing. Each salon employs eight-10 stylists. Super Cuts and Sport Clips franchises are also expanding at a robust rate. A stylist can expect to start at an hourly wage and can supplement that wage with bonuses related to productivity, product sales and tips. The mean wage of a Great Clips stylist is $15.60 per hour and the medium wage is $14.00. Stylists may also contribute to a 401(k) and receive vocational matching benefits. Opportunities to move into managerial, training and corporate positions are available as well. Simmons has employed many graduates from Eastern’s program.

Simmons said students that obtain their associates as part of becoming licensed have a leg up in advancing within the organization from daye one. The other statistic she felt was misleading was the number of licensed cosmetologist in the state, which is 30,000. The actual pool of those working or seeking work in the field is significantly less, said Simmons. She explained the number does not factor the individuals who obtained licenses but are no longer working in the field for various reasons. Many renew licenses just to obtain beauty products at significantly reduced cost. Some keep it renewed as a safety net in case a second job is needed or they lose the one they have. Simmons also feels that the statistic does not factor in the portion of licensed stylists ready to retire or are retired.

Price City Mayor Joe Piccolo was named a member of the board. He has both personal and community interest in seeing the program a success. He said would love to see it expand and wants Applied Technology Education (ATE) continue as part of the college curriculum as well as in high schools. He supports the mission of the college and Utah Governor Gary Hebert in raising the amount of Utahan’s that hold a post secondary degree, but wants to make sure ATE and certification programs, not just traditional college degrees, are included.

Kristine Ori and Rochelle Badback recounted how they were able to support themselves and their children with their cosmetology licenses during the years they were single parents.

Judy Mainord with the Carbon School District also expressed a need for ATE opportunities and is dismayed that the construction program is ending. She said 19 girls from Carbon High School are currently enrolled and would be devastated if it shut down. Mayor Piccolo felt the board could be a positive element between the department and the administration to set and help carry out a strategic plan to sustain and grow the program. The board will attempt to do so with four areas of emphasis including funding, marketing, recruitment and retention.

The group will meet again Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the SAC building on campus. Those interested in helping may contact Debbie Prichard at 613-5302.

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