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Brooks Institute Comes to a Screeching Halt

Curators’ corner

Brooks Institute Comes to a Screeching Halt

After 70 years of supporting young photographers looking to gain a higher education in the media industry, Brooks Institute announced on Aug. 12 that the school will not reopen for the 2016 fall semester.

The sudden news of a permanent closure (officially set for Oct. 31) came the morning after an abrupt change in leadership when the three year contract of then-president, Edward Clift was terminated. According to PetaPixel, four board members resigned in response to Clift’s ousting.

Many students are now left with no contingency plan and only an incomplete education to show on their resumes. As you can imagine, they’re not happy.

In efforts to rally morale, Brooks professors and staff managed to host a college fair Aug. 17 and 18 with representatives from several institutions including Santa Barbara City College, San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, and Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design, among others.

Formerly known as Brooks Institute of Photography, the privately-owned, Ventura, Calif.-based school offered four majors (Professional Photography, Film and Video Production, Graphic Design, and Visual Journalism), as well as two master’s programs. Brooks had struggled with dwindling enrollment for the past decade, from 2,563 students in 2005 to 350 students in 2016, prompting the school to plan a move to downtown Ventura to make the campus more desirable.

Clift, who was just hired on July 1 to organize the move, responded with confusion.

“Given the large size of the incoming class of 150 new students, I am puzzled,” Clift said, pointing out a 25 percent increase in enrollment over last year. “A turnaround was in progress.”

It’s disheartening to see a photography institution close, much less in this fashion. Duggal Visual Solutions offers its encouragement to the many students who must now switch gears. Don’t give up on your passion! This is only a bump in the road.

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The building that was planned as the new Brooks Institute campus in downtown Ventura.

Do you have any recommendations or advice to share with the students of Brooks Institute? Leave a comment below.

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