Belmont University is slated to assume control of Franklin-based O’More School of Design later this year.
The looming move, which was first reported by The Tennessean and will involve no money changing hands, will result in the ceasing of operations for what has been Williamson County’s only four-year college.
O’More offers bachelor’s degrees in fashion design and merchandising, graphic design and interior design. The programs and the O’More students will move this fall to the Belmont campus (pictured), which BU feels will allow it to potentially capitalize on Nashville’s fast-changing interior design and fashion industries.
Neither school has yet announced specifics regarding the future status of O’More instructors.
Founded in 1970 and home to about 150 students, O’More is led by President Shari Fox, who in a statement said “Belmont’s creative spirit and impressive growth have captured the attention of our nation, and we are delighted to now be part of that energy […] Mrs. O’More would be so proud to know that her legacy has come full circle, and I cannot wait to see what our students achieve as part of this wonderful university.”
Fox told The Tennessean the specialty college is financially stable while acknowledging that the administration has been working to determine a long-term plan in the face of various challenges. The previous O’More president, Dr. David Rosen, served for only about two years.
What will be called the O’More School of Design at Belmont University will be housed within the BU College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Belmont President Bob Fisher described the merger as offering “an incredibly exciting moment in Belmont’s history” as the university seeks to cultivate high-profile interior design and fashion degree programs.
“The possibilities for interdisciplinary collaborations are endless as O’More’s programs inspire natural partnerships with countless academic areas in which Belmont’s a proven leader,” Fisher said. “In addition, Nashville is already positioned as a rising star in the fashion world, and the O’More School of Design at Belmont will elevate that status as we anticipate our programs will quickly make a significant impact on our city and the design industry at large.”
Of note, O’More offers the only BFA Interior Design program in Middle Tennessee to be fully accredited by the international Council for Interior Design Accreditation. In addition, O’More’s Interior Design department is home to nine winners of the Angelo Donghia Foundation Scholarship, considered among the nation’s most prestigious scholarships of its type.
According to a 2017 economic impact study released by the Nashville Fashion Alliance, fashion businesses in the city have contributed an estimated $5.9 billion and 16,200 jobs to the area’s economy. The report suggests those numbers could reach $9.5 billion and 25,000 jobs by 2025.
Similarly, Nashville now offers the largest per capita concentration of fashion companies in the nation outside of Los Angeles and New York, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
O’More had not yet announced what it will do with its seven-acre downtown Franklin property, which is anchored by the historic Abbey Leix Mansion (also known as the Winstead House).