As part of our continuing series of profiles of APC member colleges that stand in stark contrast to the considerably misinformed and misguided blanket negative opinions held in some quarters toward proprietary colleges, we shine a spotlight on New York City-based LIM College, initially called the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising when its doors first opened in 1939.
People on the business side of the fashion industry know LIM College as one of the top institutions for preparing students for vibrant careers in the their line of work. Given its highly specialized niche focus, the institution is admittedly probably not particularly well-known outside the fashion industry. The fact that it was ranked by The Princeton Review as one of the “Best in the Northeast” for the past ten years serves as testimony to the caliber of its programs.
Another strong testament to the quality of an LIM education comes from no less than WWD — the daily “must read” of the fashion industry. The well-respected publication profiled LIM earlier this month in celebration of the college’s 75 years of innovative partnership with the fashion world. The well-deserved multipage spread pays tribute to LIM’s impressive track record as the educational standard-setter for the fashion business community.
To be sure, LIM has carved out a strong and unique niche for itself, focusing exclusively on the intersection of business and fashion. As Mark Mendelson, former CEO of Ellen Tracy, recently observed about the institution “So little of the business is just the fashion designer, and so much of the business is the business of fashion. The kids at LIM may not be the ones out there at the end of the (fashion) show waving, but they’re the ones who got the show to happen.”
When LIM was founded in 1939 by Maxwell F. Marcuse, a former advertising executive and educational pioneer with a vision, it offered a solitary certificate in merchandising. The students enrolled in the one-year program were all women. Today, women still make up more than 90 percent of LIM’s student body, but they are pursuing a much broader array of degrees. The college has greatly expanded to offer undergraduate programs in International Business, Fashion Merchandising, Management, Marketing and Visual Merchandising, as well as MBA and MPS graduate programs.
WWD best summarizes the career success of the college’s graduates by ticking off the names of just a representative sampling of its alumni and their impressive roles: “…LIM alumni hold many leadership roles in the fashion industry, namely Neva Hall, executive vice president of specialty stores for Neiman Marcus Stores; Daniella Vitale, chief operating officer for Barneys New York; Doug Jakubowski, chief merchandising officer of Perry Ellis; Dianne Vavra, senior vice president of press relations at Dior Beauty; and Kathy Nedorostek, group president of global footwear ad accessories at The Jones Group Inc.” It also notes that Pamela Mufson is a graduate; she started a jewelry line while at LIM that has been sold at Henri Bendel under the Ela Rae brand.
A look at recent graduates’ employment rates tells an equally compelling story. While the data for 2014 graduates will not be fully compiled until the end of the year, LIM College President Elizabeth S. Marcuse is cited in the WWD story as stating that nearly nine out of 10 Class of 2013 LIM College graduates responding to a survey said that they had found employment within the first six months of graduation. That figure jumped to 95 percent when asked over a one-year time horizon. For comparison sake, in the Accenture 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey, only 46 percent of the more than 2,000 college grads surveyed reported having a full-time job.
LIM is just one of many proprietary institutions within New York State alone that defies the negative headlines. Indeed, even a cursory understanding of its clear dedication to students, the respect and admiration it enjoys from the industry it serves, and the enviable program outcomes it delivers will shatter even the most entrenched negative pre-conceived notions held by the unfamiliar and ill-informed about the value that for-profit colleges provide every day.