Crossing Rivers Health Recognized by Technical College System Board

L to R - Ellen Zwirlein and Gabe Oosthuysen, Crossing Rivers Health; Drew Petersen, WTCS State Board Chair; Bill Sexton, CEO at Crossing Rivers Health; Duane Ford; Julia Nelson and Dr. Steven Bush, Crossing Rivers Health

L to R – Ellen Zwirlein and Gabe Oosthuysen, Crossing Rivers Health; Drew Petersen, WTCS State Board Chair; Bill Sexton, CEO at Crossing Rivers Health; Duane Ford; Julia Nelson and Dr. Steven Bush, Crossing Rivers Health

FENNIMORE – The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board last week awarded its “Futuremakers Partner” award to Crossing Rivers Health of Prairie du Chien. The award recognizes the unique and dynamic partnerships between Wisconsin’s technical colleges and their employer partners.

Crossing Rivers Health is a comprehensive community health center providing medical, emergency, home health and hospice care, as well as community health and wellness education and related services. Crossing Rivers has a nearly 30-year partnership with Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, which CEO Bill Sexton described as one of continuous growth.

“Proactive development of the latest technology supports cutting-edge practice and is a hallmark of our joint success,” Sexton told those gathered for the presentation. The result, Sexton said, “has made this area of Wisconsin stronger and is ensuring a highly-trained and capable workforce.”

“This is exactly the type of partnership this award was designed to recognize,” said WTCS Board President Drew Petersen. “It has endured for 30 years and remains dynamic, delivering the skilled workers that Crossing Rivers needs to serve the region, and leading to great jobs for Southwest Tech graduates.”

Crossing Rivers staff actively participate on advisory committees in Southwest Tech’s health care programs. In addition, Crossing Rivers provides clinical experiences for students, has donated equipment to the college, and annually contributes more than $17,000 for scholarships and tuition assistance for employees who enroll in Southwest Tech’s health occupations training.

“Thank you for the great work you’re doing to develop the professionals who will be our future,” Sexton said.

The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) offers more than 300 programs awarding two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas and certificates. In addition, the System is the major provider of customized business solutions and technical assistance to Wisconsin employers. More than 340,000 individuals access the technical colleges for education and training each year.

Posted in General

Direct Entry Midwifery Program Granted Accreditation

Dionne Corcoran, Direct-Entry Midwife Alumna

Dionne Corcoran, Direct-Entry Midwife Alumna

On September 4, 2014, the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) granted initial programmatic accreditation to the Direct-Entry Midwifery Program at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. This is the first time a public institution of higher education in the United States has been granted such accreditation! Accreditation is effective immediately and will continue for five years ending September 3, 2019.

Congratulations to Ms. Sherry Devries, Instructor and Program Coordinator; the Program’s Advisory Committee members; Southwest Tech’s midwifery students and alumni; Katie Garrity, Dean of Health, Education & Public Safety; and everyone else involved!

You can also read my previous post about this program.

Posted in Uncategorized

Summer 2014 Law Enforcement Academy Graduation


FRONT: Sloane Becker (Mount Horeb), Nicholas Burch (Viroqua), Zachary Fischer (Argyle), Cole Gabrick (Fountain CIty), Dayne Hammerly (Wisconsin Dells), Hannah Terpenning (Waunakee), and Emily Kjos (Lancaster). BACK: Coree Lee (Monroe), Matthew Lochowitz (Oconomowoc), Kyle Schewe (Oregon), Kevin Sorenson (Reedsburg), Kyle Keller (Waunakee), Andrew Weber (Potosi), and Nathan Wendel (Cedar Rapids, IA).

Congratulations to the graduates of this summer’s 520-Hour Law Enforcement Academy! Family, friends, and instructors gathered in the Nohr Gallery of the Ullsvik Center on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus August 29, 2014 to celebrate with this year’s fourteen graduates.

Chief Troy Loeffelholz, Cuba City Police Department

Chief Troy Loeffelholz, Cuba City Police Department

Zachary Fischer, Class President & Leadership Award Winner

Zachary Fischer, Class President & Leadership Award Winner


Backup Officer Awards: (L to R) Nicholas Burch, Dayne Hammerly, Emily Kjos, Coree Lee and Kevin Sorenson.

Mr. Troy Loeffelholz, Chief of Police in Cuba City, Wisconsin, provided the keynote speech. Mr. Zachary Fischer, Class President and this summer’s Leadership Award winner, spoke for the graduating class. There was a five-way tie for the Backup Officer Award with Mr. Nicholas Burch, Mr. Dayne Hammerly, Ms. Emily Kjos, Ms. Coree Lee, and Mr. Kevin Sorenson all being picked by their peers to be the person they would most like at their side in a difficult situation.

Kris Wubben, Criminal Justice Supervisor

Kris Wubben, Criminal Justice Supervisor

Many thanks to Ms. Kris Wubben, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College’s Criminal Justice Supervisor, to the many instructors whose ability and hard-work makes the College’s law enforcement academies a success, and to UW-Platteville for its long-standing collaboration with Southwest Tech for the Summer Law Enforcement Academy.


Best wishes for much success to all fourteen graduates. View additional photos from the event here.

Posted in Celebrations

News About Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges

Here are a couple of media pieces of interest. First, Ms. Morna Foy, President of the Wisconsin Technical College System, was a recent guest on “WisBusiness: The Show.” (I encourage you to watch the entire piece, but her interview starts at about the 4:30 mark.) Second, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez continues to say really good things about Wisconsin’s technical colleges. This piece mentions Northcentral Technical College’s coordination of the “INTERFACE” grant (TAACCCT 3) of which Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is a part. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Teaching, Learning, and Academic Outreach

This article first appeared in the August 21, 2014, Fennimore Times as part of its “Buzz About Town” series. It is reprinted here with permission from Fennimore Times Editor Rob Callahan.

Thanks to an outstanding faculty and staff, many good things are happening at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. This is the second in a series providing highlights from around the College.

Today’s spotlight shines on Southwest Tech’s Department of Teaching, Learning, and Academic Outreach led by Ms. Julie Pluemer, Supervisor. I am grateful for her help writing this article. Because of its long name and unwieldy acronym, I will refer to this unit as simply “the Department.”

At Southwest Tech, the Department might be the one unit with the most balls in the air. It is responsible for accomplishing numerous, different, and important tasks. To organize the work, it’s split into two sub-units, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Basic Education.

Basic Education provides adult basic education (ABE) and for youth, alternative high school (a.k.a., “118.15 contracts”). It includes three full-time and eleven part-time instructors offering programming on the Fennimore campus as well as at Outreach Centers in Boscobel, Darlington, Dodgeville, Platteville, Prairie du Chien, and Richland Center.

ABE serves adults, who for one reason or another, have not mastered the basic knowledge, skills, and aptitudes usually obtained in elementary and secondary education. ABE programs are free of charge to eligible students and aim to help students gain whatever basic reading, writing, mathematics, thinking, speaking, listening, or computer literacy skills they need and want. Last year the Department served about 310 ABE students.

Different ABE students have different learning goals. Some seek specific skills. Others prepare for a specific job. Some study toward earning a General Education Development (GED) credential or a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED). Last year, the Department helped 80 adults and youth earn a GED or HSED. Still other ABE students seek the preparation needed to enter and succeed in one of Southwest Tech’s career and technical education programs. All eligible students are welcome!

The Center for Teaching and Learning includes five faculty and staff members. They fulfill numerous responsibilities lumped into three categories. The CTL helps: (1) faculty and staff members develop professionally; (2) online students succeed; and (3) Southwest Tech engage with youth, high schools, and four-year universities in mutually beneficial ways. However, these catchall categories do little justice to what actually goes on.

The CTL helps lead the delivery of faculty and staff professional development opportunities. Last year, the Department organized three employee learning academies which offered 28 different sessions to about 200 faculty and staff participants. It also ran the College’s all-employee in-service programs, Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) instructor certification courses, and worked individually with 93 different employees to help them improve their individual skills.

The CTL oversees Southwest Tech’s Curriculum Projects, an internal grant program that allows instructors to apply for funds to support special curriculum development projects. Last year, a total of $30,000 was distributed among 36 projects involving 50 instructors.

The CTL leads Southwest Tech’s Worldwide Instructional Delivery System (WIDS) and Technical Skills Attainment (TSA) projects. Both are local components of WTCS-wide initiatives.

WIDS is a system designed and used by Wisconsin’s technical colleges for the purpose of standardizing, storing, and sharing curricula between and within colleges. The CTL helps instructors input and use WIDS information.

TSA is a program-level assessment initiative. In education, “assessment” refers to protocols designed to determine if students have actually acquired the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes they are supposed to learn. A “program-level” assessment is designed to determine if the courses and learning experiences within a particular diploma or degree program together achieve the desired learning outcomes of that program. The plan is to develop TSA protocols for all Southwest Tech programs.

Online learning is growing nationally and locally. Last year Southwest Tech offered 152 online courses serving 1550 students. This coming year the College will add three new entirely-online programs: Cancer Information Management; Health Information Management; and Supply Chain Management. So, the College’s number of online students will increase. Someone has to help instructors design and deliver as well as students succeed in online courses. It’s yet another job admirably done by the CTL.

Finally, the CTL manages Southwest Tech’s services to youth (e.g., Camp Tech Trek and Camp Extreme), partnerships with high schools (e.g., dual enrollment and Southwest Academy for 21st Century Excellence), as well as articulation agreements with four-year universities. Last year around 1500 high school students earned college credit from Southwest Tech through dual enrollment. The College now has articulation agreements with 29 different universities, giving graduates a variety of opportunities to complete a baccalaureate degree should they want to.

The Department of Teaching, Learning, and Academic Outreach is busy and productive. Much is going on all over campus at Southwest Tech. These are highlights from only one unit and do not include all of the cool stuff happening there! Learn more by visiting campus or the College’s web or social media sites.

Posted in Buzz Around Town Column, General

Ron Brewer, Educational Director, Department of Corrections

Ron Brewer has been the Educational Director at Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution and Wisconsin Secure Program Facility for over seventeen years. Congratulations to him on the occasion of his retirement August 26, 2014.

He recently wrote, “One of my proudest accomplishments . . . is the cooperation and working relationship with Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.  Your cooperation and support of our Career and Technical Education programs has enabled us to continue to provide programming that provides inmates with tools they need to seek competitive employment and hopefully not commit new crimes and return to our institutions.”

On behalf of the entire Southwest Tech community, I want to express the College’s thanks to Ron for his partnership, friendship, and work on behalf of students. In the words of Dr. Phil Thomas, Vice-President for Student and Academic Affairs, we have always been impressed with Ron’s commitment to his students and work in their behalf as well as his passionate challenge to each successful completer regarding their need to be life-long learners. We wish Ron great happiness in his retirement.

Posted in General

Dubuque Proclaims “Welcome Students Week”

At the August 18th Dubuque City Council meeting, a proclamation was approved and signed by Mayor Roy Buol designating August 18 through August 29, 2014 as “Welcome Students Week.”

Mr. Rick Dickinson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, wrote, “This is part of the Dubuque community’s multi-faceted effort to recognize the treasure of higher education in our community combined with a sincere welcome to your students and their families. We celebrate the over 32,000 students in the Greater Dubuque area and their impact on our community and economy.” Those 32,000 students include those attending Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.

Southwest Tech Graphic and Web Design student Mary Turner will represent the College on the billboard and promotional materials created by Greater Dubuque Development Corporation.

Welcome Students Week is being supported by Dubuque Works which is funded by the City of Dubuque, the Mystique Casino, and Dubuque County.

Posted in Uncategorized