We'll Remember You, Discover U

Don't be gone for long.

Sure, the Quickbooks and business Web site–building classes were useful, but those classes are available at any community college. What made Discover U great were the more personal, practical, niche offerings, like Introduction to Stand-Up Comedy, Tantra II, Beginning Ornamental Steel Welding, and Pole Dancing. The institution commenced instruction 16 years ago in founder Debbie Mellen's living room. It subsequently moved to Northgate before settling into a campus on prime downtown real estate, offering to teach you anything you might want to learn and then some, often for less than the cost of dinner and a movie. But early last week, the school's Web site had only this message: "Discover U has decided to close its doors. Thank you, Seattle, for your patronage." Now the site is down completely, and the school along with it. Goodwin Deacon taught grant writing, one of the more practical classes offered by Discover U. She says the institution went through a series of changes shortly before an e-mail arrived to all instructors on Valentine's Day from Program and Marketing Director Cheri Jessup. "It is with a very sad heart that I am sending you this note," wrote Jessup, before announcing the school would close immediately. Deacon says she contacted Jessup about the closure and was told the development team hadn't come up with anything in awhile. Deacon says Jessup didn't clarify what "anything" meant, but apparently the decision makers at Discover U needed their own Getting More Out of Your Business class. Deacon was also a little leery when Discover U moved from its Northgate location to Belltown last fall. In addition to questioning the move, she says, no one responded when she pointed out that Google still listed the school at its former location. "It just sounds like another case of mismanagement," she says. "It's too bad because I think [Discover U] contributed to the community here." Terrence Lee Zehrer, who bought Discover U from Robert and Deborah Ederer of Redmond in August 2006, didn't respond to a request for comment—but there's already interest in resurrecting the school. James Fernandez, a real estate agent who taught Beginning Volleyball at Discover U, says he thought about buying it once before and would like to revisit the prospect. Discover U's Web site noted that refunds would be available, and included a number to call with additional questions. However, within four days of posting the note, no one was answering at the number provided. Sadly, for people grieving the loss of Discover U, the Course for Highly Sensitive People is no more.

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