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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 2:39 am | Fair 50º


Brooks Institute Announces It Is Shuttering Operations in Ventura

After 70 years of educating college students aspiring to pursue careers in media, visual and communication arts, the Brooks Institute in Ventura has closed its doors indefinitely.

The for-profit school announced classes won’t continue in the fall, and that it has stopped enrolling new students.

“After considerable discussion and deliberation, the difficult decision has been made to close Brooks Institute,” transitions officer Kristen Howard wrote in a letter to students last week. “The campus will close completely, effective Oct. 31, 2016.”

Economic and regulatory pressures have had a significant negative impacts on the institution, according to Howard.

“We have attempted to mitigate this impact through contraction, strategic planning, and innovation, but with only limited success,” Howard said. “Because we do not expect the adverse conditions to change in the foreseeable future, our only remaining, responsible course of action is to proceed to closure.”

According to the letter, the closure is subject to approval from the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, and other regulators.

Howard said funds received to pay for the fall semester would be returned to students. Faculty is working to assist students to transfer to other schools, along with helping students find schools to finish their programs.

Student Adrian White, a 10-year U.S. Navy photojournalist who started in spring of 2015, is left without a school to go after Brooks abruptly closed.

White is participating in Paris in the Paris fashion and street photography summer classes offered at Brooks. He was in the middle of a photo shoot when a friend texted him the school was closing.  

“I almost dropped my camera. I couldn't believe it,” he said. “It's difficult to weigh my options when you're that far away. I don't even know what my options are at this point. This was kind of sprung on us. We all have major decisions to make.”

The 37-year-old father had five classes to complete before he graduated from Brooks Institute, and said he felt “devastated” when he found out.

“Yesterday as I walked the streets of Paris completing one of my final projects, I couldn't think of anything else except this huge thing that I'm dealing with,” White said. “Every step I took another question came up.”

As a military veteran, White qualifies on the G.I. Bill to help cover his education costs. He said he could pick any school internationally to attend, but Brooks was his choice because it had a reputation as one of the world's top photography schools.

“I separated from the military to attend the best photography school in the country,” White said. “The technical knowledge they bestowed on their students was second to none. Sadly, there's a chance that my military benefits were wasted on a school that I will not receive a degree from.”

The Ventura County Star reported that the school’s shut down occurred more than a week after the institute’s president, Edward Clift, was ousted, and a majority of the board of directors had also resigned.

Brooks was founded in 1945 by Ernest Brooks as the Brooks Institute of Photography.

Last year, the institute was bought by Gphomestay, a company known as Green Planet that specializes in finding homes for foreign exchange students studying abroad in the United States.

Brooks was the Massachusetts-based company’s first campus purchase.

The school relocated all of its Santa Barbara students, faculty and campus in 2015 to one larger location at 5301 N. Ventura Ave. in Ventura.

Before Career Education Corp. bought the school from the Brooks family in 1999, officials sold the campuses, stating “declining student enrollment and financial losses,” according to a statement released by Ron McCray, chairman and interim CEO.

Brooks graduates could receive a bachelors in film, graphic design, professional photography and visual journalism. Graduate programs offered master’s degrees in fine art photography, and scientific and technological imaging. 

Undergraduate tuition held a price tag of more than $80,000 without loans or scholarships.

Officials from Brooks Institute did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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