Completion of the demolition phase of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Academy of Culinary Arts long-range building plan is targeted for August 2025, four months sooner than originally expected, according to a new timeline from the Department of General Services.

Advertisements for demolition bids for the project are expected to be posted by July 2024 and bids announced in September 2024, when demolition is set to begin.

The Academy project will provide state-of-the art facilities—and increased opportunities for enrollment growth—by locating all the educational facilities for the Academy of Culinary Arts to new or renovated buildings in downtown Punxsutawney adjacent to the Academy’s Fairman Centre along West Mahoning Street.

“This project is moving forward in great part because of the incredible support of our legislators,” IUP Council of Trustees Chairman Sam Smith said. “Rep. Brian Smith and Congressman G.T. Thompson have been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition, and Sen. Joe Pittman has been a champion of the Academy and this project from the beginning. Sen. Pittman has been critically important in keeping the construction schedule on target,” Chairman Smith said.

“The Punxsutawney community and leadership groups like the Punxsutawney Area College Trust have never wavered in their support, and we continue to appreciate everything they do for IUP, the Academy, and for our students,” Chairman Smith said. “Private donors—including PACT, the Fairman Family Foundation, and the Hardy Family Trust, along with financial support from so many other individual donors—have been critically important for this project,” he said.

“This updated timeline is wonderful news for the project, for the Academy of Culinary Arts, and for IUP,” IUP President Michael Driscoll said. “The potential for growth for the Academy is almost limitless, and Academy graduates—already in high demand—fill an important workforce need,” he said. “This building plan provides the facilities that our talented faculty and students need and deserve,” he said.

“The abundance of community and state support for this building plan is a testament to the shared vision of providing increased opportunities for students in this growing field,” Sen. Joe Pittman said. “I’m very pleased changes to the timeline of this project will ultimately help to provide access to a new facility sooner than was anticipated.”

The Academy of Culinary Arts’ long-range plan, approved in March 2022 by the IUP Council of Trustees, includes a new, 45,000-square-foot education and multipurpose commercial site anchored in downtown Punxsutawney, with the facility to serve as the main educational, retail, and experiential hub for students and the surrounding community. The new facility will offer between 32,836 and 36,644 square feet of instructional space for Academy students.

Academy students currently have classes at the 36-year-old facility on Gilpin Street in Punxsutawney and at the Fairman Center (the former J.B. Eberhart building) in downtown Punxsutawney.

The long-range building plan calls for the demolition of buildings at 105, 115, 117, and 119 West Mahoning Street (these buildings were gifted to IUP from the Foundation for IUP in 2018); and buildings at 131 and 133 West Mahoning Street, the Dorothy Miller property, that were acquired and gifted in part by building owners Jesse J. Miller and Duane A. Miller in 2021. All of these buildings are adjacent to the Fairman Centre.

A total of $4.75 million of governmental support and $1.36 million in private support and gifts in kind have already been received for the project. Remaining funds for the building project are included in the State System of Higher Education capital allocations budget.

In October 2022, the State System of Higher Education announced that $2.9 million would be released in the 2022–23 budget year for the project; $16 million for construction is in the 2023–24 budget; and $2 million for furnishing and equipment is included in the 2025–26 budget.

About the Academy of Culinary Arts Program

Since its founding in 1989, more than 4,200 students have studied at the Academy of Culinary Arts. Graduates of this program continue to be in high demand, working in four-star resorts and facilities, featured in national publications, and even in nationally televised cooking competitions.

The 16-month program offered at the Academy of Culinary Arts is nationally recognized and accredited by the American Culinary Federation. After completing a final semester at a paid externship, graduates earn a certificate in culinary arts and can also complete a separate baking and pastry program through the Academy. The Baking and Pastry Arts program became a stand-alone program in 2019 to allow for additional growth in this program.

Academy of Culinary Arts graduates of either the Culinary Arts program or the Baking and Pastry program are eligible to complete an associate degree in Culinary Arts with an additional semester of study at IUP Punxsutawney. Students who successfully complete the Culinary Arts or the Baking and Pastry program also have the option to apply up to 38 credits toward a bachelor of science degree in hotel, restaurant, tourism, and event management at IUP or 32 credits toward a bachelor of science degree in nutrition. Admission into the nutrition track is guaranteed for culinary graduates.

Graduates can also apply 21 credits toward a bachelor of science degree in education with a major in K–12 family and consumer sciences. Graduates of the program can choose to take advantage of applying their credits toward any of these bachelor's degree options any time within 10 years after culinary graduation.