Editor’s note: This article continues a series profiling nominees of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 2014 Awards of Excellence. Featured this week are the four finalists in the category of student success. Winners in each of the six categories will be announced at the AACC Annual Convention next month.
At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), student success is more than a concept – it’s a part of the culture. The college’s Dream…Learn It. Live It initiative ensures that student success is woven into every facet of the student experience.
Every employee at NWTC is responsible for finding ways to help students master their courses, remain in college and complete some kind of credential.
“For people who are willing to work and earn that credential, helping them succeed is both a smart policy and the right choice,” said NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn.
Program advisors work with students from application through graduation. Four-week courses allow students to concentrate on one subject at a time while maintaining full-time status. Supplemental learning with academic coaches and tutors is available for the most difficult courses. Struggling students are identified earlier and directed to the appropriate student services.
To help students struggling financially, college employees created a food pantry, a second-hand clothing store and an employee giving campaign on campus.
What the data show
The college also improved the quality of its data, allowing for more informed decision-making.
This transformation at NWTC wasn’t always easy or comfortable — systems and assumptions had to be changed — but college leaders, faculty and staff have found ways to turn challenges into triumphs.
“The business intelligence available to us has been significantly redesigned so that we can see what helps students succeed and where they may fall through the cracks,” said Matthew Petersen, associate dean for general studies at the college.
Prairie du Chien Memorial Health Clinic-Fennimore opened Monday in the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College campus’ Health Sciences building.
Nurse practitioner Peggy Barton will serve as the clinic’s primary provider. Barton has worked 32 years in nursing and has 19 years of experience as a nurse practitioner, certified in women’s health and family care, with an interest in diabetes.
Primary care services offered at the new clinic include annual health and wellness visits, health promotion and maintenance, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, general consultation and referral.
Dental services and behavioral health services will be added later this year.
— Automotive students at Fox Valley Technical College have made themselves at home in the newly expanded J. J. Keller Transportation Center.
With the goal of helping to meet a growing demand for automotive careers, the school enlarged the facility by more than 20,000 square feet. The $6.2 million addition created 10 learning bays for automotive programs; three drive-through learning bays for diesel programs; classrooms; an instruction bay for the school’s truck driving program; and a learning bay for a trailer technician program.
The bigger transportation center is the third of five major building projects completed at FVTC so far since 2012, when voters approved $66.5 million in spending.
Aric Van Ess, a second-year diesel technology student from Cedar Grove, likes having more room and using new tools.
“There’s a lot more activities you can work on,” Van Ess said. “You’re not all bunched up working on a truck.”
Van Ess works part-time in the industry, and he sees the same things in the classroom that he does on the job. Students work on trucks that are driven on roads, so the problems they fix in school are the same ones they would see in the real world.
Van Ess plans to take courses in the new transport trailer service technician program after he completes the diesel technology area.
The new program is possible because of the extra square footage added to the facility and was started at the request of local industries, said Dan Poeschel, associate dean at FVTC.
The referendum allowed the automotive program to double in size, accommodating every student who enrolls. In the past, officials had to put students on waiting lists because there wasn’t enough room.
Most students will have jobs lined up immediately after graduation. FVTC automotive students who graduated last year have a combined job placement rate of 98 percent, according to figures provided by the college.
Poeschel said graduates can earn starting wages of $15 per hour or higher.
“[The addition] provides education and good jobs to students coming in who can really have a lifelong career in this industry,” he said.
By Aaron Knapp – RACINE — Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht spoke alongside Chelsea Clinton and Melanne Verveer, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, at a United Nations-sponsored conference in New York City on Tuesday about how to expand women’s access to education.
In this and another conference on Monday, Albrecht discussed Gateway’s programs and efforts to get women educated for careers, especially in fields typically dominated by men.
“I was proud to be able to showcase some of our programs and at least acknowledge the fact that in any community around the world, whether it’s right here in Racine or if it’s overseas somewhere, there’s more that we can do to help young girls find opportunities and create greater points of access,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.
Albrecht was the primary speaker in the IDEAGEN Summit on Monday and led a discussion of about 60 industry CEOs on broadening opportunities for women to be educated.
The U.N. summit on Tuesday, “Turning Inspiration into Action: Next Steps for the Private Sector to Empower Women Globally,” gathered political, business and educational leaders to discuss how to give women greater access to education around the world, said
Albrecht, who represented the American Association of Community Colleges.
Although Gateway has more women enrolled than men, Albrecht said school programs are focused on getting women into historically masculine career fields.
“Recognition by being invited to different events like this one I think help validate that we’re doing some positive things for our community and for our students,” he said.
Madison — Senate Republicans Tuesday narrowly passed Gov. Scott Walker’s $541 million tax cut proposal in a vote that guaranteed the cuts will become law.
The tax decreases — the third round of cuts by Republicans in less than a year — passed 17-15 with GOP Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center joining all Democrats in voting against the proposal. The proposal now goes to the Assembly, which passed a different version of the tax cuts last month with two Democrats joining all Republicans in supporting it.
With growing tax collections now expected to give the state a $1billion budget surplus in June 2015, Walker’s bill will cut property and income taxes for families and businesses, and zero out all income taxes for manufacturers in the state.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said his party was delivering on a promise to hold down taxes for the people of the state.
“The bottom line is what a great day for the state of Wisconsin — to finally be out of what was a dark time for Wisconsin,” Fitzgerald said, referring to the recent recession.
GOP lawmakers and Walker will use the unexpected windfall for the state as an occasion to trim overall state spending slightly for the next three years rather than increase it.
The votes on the tax cuts, which have split almost entirely along partisan lines in the Legislature, highlight the growing split between the two parties’ visions for the state.
Walker’s initial tax cut proposal would have drawn down the expected surplus and left the state budget in somewhat worse financial position in the future as measured by one commonly used method. To win over a holdout GOP senator concerned about the state’s finances, Walker agreed last month to cut state spending by $38 million to help offset the tax cuts.
Also Tuesday, the Senate voted unanimously to pass a second bill to increase spending on worker training by $35.4 million through June 2015.
Walker’s plan for the surplus prioritizes the tax cuts and a roughly $320 million overhaul of income tax withholding over calls from Democrats to decrease more than $1 billion in borrowing, strengthen the state budget and offset past cuts to schools. Democrats said that was a better approach to running state government and boosting the state’s economy.
“The property tax burden absolutely weighs down the citizens of our state,” Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said. “But you know what else weighs down the citizens of this state? Not having a job.”
Under Walker’s bill, the average income tax filer would receive a tax cut of $46 in April 2015 and the typical homeowner would save $131 over the existing law on this December’s bills, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office.
Also, the governor has separately had his administration alter income tax withholding rates so workers have less taken out of each paycheck — about $520 a year for a married couple making a total of $80,000 a year — starting in April.
“The more money that we give back to the taxpayers, the more money they can spend or save as they wish and the more our economy will grow,” said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chairwoman of the Legislature’s budget committee.
The bill would also lower income taxes for factory and farm owners by $36.8 million over the current two-year budget and $91.3 million over the following two years.
GOP supporters of this manufacturing tax cut in the bill see it as fuel for one of the state’s main economic engines.
Democratic opponents see it as a giveaway with a dubious payback to some of the richest people in the state, averaging about $800 for roughly 30,000 tax filers in 2015.
The deal between Walker and GOP senators would also use what is essentially an accounting maneuver to keep a chunk of the surplus — more than $100 million — in the state’s main account rather than shifting it to a rainy day fund.
Mary Burke, a former state commerce secretary and bicycle company executive running against Walker, has said the state should use about half of the surplus to set aside more money in the rainy day fund and reduce the state’s $2billion in new borrowing through June 2015. She would use the remainder for property tax relief and worker training programs.
Burke’s plan for property tax relief and separate plans put forward by Assembly and Senate Democrats would all funnel more money toward a state credit for parcels with a home or business on them. That would ensure low- and middle-income homeowners see bigger tax cuts than they would under Walker’s plan.
Republicans have said this so-called first dollar tax credit provides no relief to those who own undeveloped land and could draw a legal challenge to the credit if it is increased again.
Senate Democrats Tuesday offered their own plan for the budget surplus that would:
■ Provide a one-time property tax cut of $500 million through the first dollar credit. That means homeowners wouldn’t get the tax decrease in future years.
■ Double the transfer of money to the state’s rainy day fund by adding $228.7 million.
■ Provide $100 million more to the Wisconsin Technical College System and additional funding for rural K-12 schools and special needs students to offset past cuts to those areas.
■ Not provide the tax cut to manufacturers and not cut down on the amount of extra income taxes that the state is withholding.
The proposal would cut the state’s budget deficit in the next two-year budget to zero, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
“It’s hard to look past the next election toward the long-term interests of the state,” Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) said. “Let’s transcend the politics.”
“– The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recently announced that Fox Valley Technical College has met all requirements to become an NKBA Accredited Program provider of AAS Interior Design – Kitchen and Bath Design, and Kitchen and Bath Certificate.
NKBA Accreditation serves the professional needs of the industry and ensures consistent, quality education for students who want to become kitchen or bathroom design professionals. The NKBA currently recognizes over 40 schools in North America whose kitchen and bath curriculum meet the educational standards established by the association.
These established standards include the knowledge and skills necessary for competent practice in the profession, divided into four categories: Planning and Design, Construction/Mechanical Systems, Business Management, and Products/Materials. Each school seeking accreditation must adequately meet stringent NKBA standards in each of these areas.
These schools submit a self-study and an analysis of competencies as related to these areas of study. An onsite evaluation is conducted, consisting of classroom observations; a curriculum-review meeting with faculty; a presentation of projects; and interviews with students, faculty and administration. The educational institution must have accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or a provincial ministry of education in Canada.
NKBA Accredited Programs are evaluated with respect to mission, administration, curriculum, faculty, and resources to determine eligibility and the students’ aptitude toward fulfilling the Association’s required competencies. Industry professionals evaluate student work samples as a subjective measure of the program. Programs that meet the qualifications for accreditation or a preliminary status of supported are published in print and on the NKBA website.
Each year, the Association monitors the progress of these schools with the submission of student work samples, based on the NKBA Student Design Competition. This process provides an outcome-based assessment to the schools. Accredited Programs have a reevaluation period of seven years.
Fox Valley Technical College earned NKBA Accreditation by demonstrating that it meets these requirements, which represent the basis of a program the NKBA considers essential for quality education. Each student must complete classroom work as well as internships that enhance and extend the classroom experiences. These internships are monitored by the educational institution, which makes certain that they meet the NKBA’s required student competencies. Programs accredited by the National Kitchen & Bath Association must have an NKBA Certified advisor or faculty member.
NTC students get a jump on 4-year degree, save cash
February 28, 2014
Antigo area residents are getting a jump on a four-year college degree—and saving some big cash in the process—at Northcentral Technical College.
Next fall, three students from Antigo will become the first to take advantage of an agreement between NTC and Michigan Technological University that will not only help them earn their bachelor’s degrees in two years, but will save them more than $100,000 each in the process.
Ted Wierzba is one of the students transferring to Michigan Tech in the fall to receive his bachelor of science in electrical engineering. He says with the reputation of the engineering program at Michigan Tech he saw no reason to look anywhere else, plus he says, “The cost savings is crazy!”
Wierzba, Chris Lord and Loryn Becker are all transferring their electromechanical technology associate degree from NTC into the electrical engineering program at Michigan Tech as juniors.
Antigo campus dean Larry Kind said that NTC’s one-year industrial electrical maintenance program serves as the first year of the associate degree electromechanical program.
An additional agreement offers eligible NTC students scholarships that equals the difference between non-resident and resident tuition, saving them $100,280 by starting locally.
“The best part is being able to further my education without taking any steps back from what I’ve already done at NTC,” Lord said. “I didn’t think it would be this easy.”
All three men say with the help of NTC’s Transfer & Placement Office this has been a very simple step for them.
“They walked us through the whole thing. It was so easy,” Becker, who hopes to specialize in robotics and someday work for NASA, said. “It flowed perfectly.”
According to Jeffrey Chamberlin, who instructs the industrial maintenance classes at NTC in Antigo, the one-year program in Antigo allows students to gauge their interest in the career.
“It’s a nice step process,” Chamberlin said. “They can see how they like it, plus they can do it right here at home.”
Greg Neuman, who is currently enrolled in the one-year program in Antigo, said he is considering more training.
“I’ve thought about it,” he said. “I’m not quite that far along yet.”
Brandon Ingram, also enrolled at Antigo, agreed that studying here is a big money-saver.
The electromechanical technology associate degree program is just one of four programs with transfer agreements to Michigan Tech. NTC’s architectural design and technology associate degree transfers into the bachelor of science in construction management at Michigan Tech while the IT – network specialist associate degree transfers into the bachelor of science in computer network and system administration program.
Finally, NTC’s mechanical design engineering technology associate degree transfers to the bachelor of science in mechanical engineering technology at Michigan Tech.
NTC has a series of articulation agreements with public and private universities, allowing students to complete much of their education locally, at a far lower cost.
Examples include accounting, applied engineering, business management, criminal justice, human services, machine tool, marketing, nursing, sustainable architecture and woods.
Agreements are in place across the University of Wisconsin system as well as schools such as Minnesota State, Northland College, Viterbo University and others.
WMC visits Western Technical College to discuss 20-year plan for Wisconsin
February 27, 2014
Skilled workers may be hard to come by in the state of Wisconsin over the next 20 years. The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation was in La Crosse Tuesday to highlight its 20-year plan to combat the issue.
Western Technical College is one of 16 stops the Manufacturing Commerce Foundation is making in Wisconsin. Technical colleges play a big role in giving students the education needed to become skilled employees in manufacturing.
With the baby-boomer generation coming to retirement age, there could be a higher number of job openings in Wisconsin.
“Well this is an aging state. We expect about 800,000 additional people in this state over the next 30 years but 95 percent of those are going to be over the age of 65,” Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation President, Jim Morgan said.
According to the Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation, skilled laborers are a dying breed.
“We’ve got some challenges coming down the road around talent attraction, around business competitiveness, that we’ve really got to start that conversation right now,” Morgan said.
The WMC Foundation wants to establish a 20-year plan called Future Wisconsin.
“The things that were outlined here today are trying to get people to think more about manufacturing careers as viable options,” Western Technical College President Lee Rasch said.
Schools like Western Technical College are big contributors to the plan.
“We’re key players because we do a couple things. We work very closely with area manufacturers, we have an existing network, we provide a lot of education and training for the next generation of the workforce in manufacturing and we also represent this region,” Rasch said.
Training the next generation may be tough. The WMC Foundation says keeping that age group in Wisconsin is not easy.
“Unless we do something to keep our young people here and figure out a way to attract more people here we’re not going to have the people available for the jobs that we’re going to have,” Morgan said.
The president of Western said he was glad that the foundation stopped in La Crosse. It allowed for more of the manufacturers in our area to take part in the discussion.
The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation will be working with colleges and universities throughout the year.
WMC Foundation looks into 20-year strategic plan for Wisconsin
February 26, 2014
LA CROSSE – With the baby boomers retiring, Wisconsin will soon lose it’s largest group of workers.
The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation is looking for ways to replace them.
WMC Foundation President Jim Morgan traveled to Western Technical College Tuesday to find out where there is a job shortage in La Crosse, and discuss ways to train students to fill those positions.
The foundation will use that information to create a 20-year strategic plan for the state, called “Future Wisconsin.”
“And we’re trying to look at a couple of key areas like talent attraction, business competitiveness, globalization, entrepreneurship. The types of things that I think if we’re going to be successful in 20 years, we’ve got to start planning for now,” Morgan said.
There’s already a need for welders and machinists, he added.
The WMC Foundation will be meeting with 16 technical colleges, along with other schools, businesses and commerce associations for input.
Increasing demand for apprenticeships as aging workers retire
February 25, 2014
Want to get paid to go to school? With an apprenticeship — you can do just that! Through an apprenticeship, an individual has access to on-the-job training and related classroom instruction. A participating employer teaches the skills of the trade on the job. The classroom instruction is theoretical and practical knowledge pertaining to the given trade. It’s an option more and more students in Wisconsin are taking — with the growing need for skilled manufacturing workers in the state.
“The student works 32 hours a week and goes to class eight hours a week, but they’re paid for 40 hours a week,” Debbie Davidson with Gateway Technical College said.
In a nutshell, that’s how an apprenticeship works. Students get hands-on and in-classroom training in a service, construction or industrial field. Typically, the programs run anywhere from three to five years.
“Apprenticeship is really unique in that you start with an employer with a need and match them with an individual to go through the training,” Davidson said.
Officials with Gateway Technical College say the demand for apprenticeship opportunities has grown, as has the number of students enrolling in programs at the school.
“In 2012, we had a total of 49 apprentices. Then, a year later, we had 80 apprentices. Now we have 140,” Davidson said.
“We’ve already started plans on four brand new programs coming up and we know that we’re going to be doubling our numbers within a very short time,” Wisconsin Apprentice Training Representative Sandy Briezman said.
So what’s driving the renewed interest in apprenticeships? We’re told it’s a skills gap, fueled at least in part by soon-to-retire workers.
“The skills gap that we’re seeing now is what was projected even before the downturn in 2009 because people were planning to retire at that point. They stayed a little bit longer, but they kept aging, so now we’re seeing people are actually at that point of retirement and companies are seeing that we need to fill that gap — and before our people leave and retire how can we utilize them to train that next generation of worker?” Davidson said.
Davidson says the late 90s were really kind of the high point for apprenticeship programs.
The Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards says statewide, there were more than 15,000 apprentices in 2001. By 2012, they had dropped to about 9,700.