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. 

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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.

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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.

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Southwest Wisconsin Technical College – Year in Review

This is a high-level review of last year’s accomplishments at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. It was a great year!

Though focused at a very high level, these accomplishments speak to and reflect the outstanding work done day in and day out by the College’s excellent employees. They are the folks that make highlights as scintillating as these a reality. Thank you and congratulations to each and every one of them!

In 2013-14, Southwest Tech increased in all of the following areas relative to the prior year. The 2013-14 increase or actual numbers are noted.

Student numbers

  • Full time equivalent – up about 2% over 2012-13
  • Graduation numbers – 761

Articulation

  • 171 advanced standing and transcripted credit agreements with K-12 schools
  • 122 agreements with 29 universities

Grants and grant dollars received

  • 52 grants awarded
  • $2.95 million grant dollars received

Contracts and contract revenues

  • Nearly 10,000 customized instruction credits
  • $1.76 million in contract revenue

Foundation activity

  • 200 scholarships with a total of $130,000 awarded
  • 108 student housed

Simultaneously Southwest Tech held its own in the following areas relative to 2012-13. The College performs at a very high level in these areas.

  • Student headcount
  • Graduation rate
  • Placement rate
  • Employer satisfaction

Significant projects accomplished included the following.

  • Completed and submitted the Systems Portfolio, a critical self assessment report, required by the Higher Learning Commission as part of the process for College reaccreditation
  • Expanded the Platteville as well as the Dodgeville Outreach Centers
  • Renovated interactive television classrooms on campus and replaced, added, and upgraded equipment in those classrooms as well as in the classrooms at the College’s Outreach Centers
  • Renovated Creative Elements Salon, the laboratory that supports the Cosmetology program
  • Added a Shooting Range storage building
  • Completed and implemented a new College website, the Continuing Education registration portal, and the customizable e-Brochure system

Southwest Tech entered into new partnerships with the following organizations and network.

  • Franklin University agreed to co-locate for the purpose of offering 3+1 baccalaureate degree completion programs in Allied Health Management as well as Nursing on the Southwest Tech campus
  • Crossing Rivers Health was awarded the bid and opened a health clinic on campus with plans to offer dental and mental health services in coming years
  • The Southwest Health Network was established to support the education and training of health information technology professionals in Southwest Wisconsin

Based on work done by many instructors, staff members, and administrators this year, the College will have a brilliant 2014-15. The following are programs that will roll out or facilities that will open this year.

New programs

  • Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology
  • Associate of Applied Science in Cancer Information Management
  • Associate of Applied Science in Supply Chain Management with embedded certificates and diploma
  • Industrial Mechanic Technical Diploma embedded in the Associate of Applied Science in Electro-Mechanical Technology
  • Laboratory Science Technician Technical Diploma embedded in the Associate of Applied Science in Medical Laboratory Technician

Additional sections

  • Welding in 2014-15 and 2015-16
  • Agribusiness/Science Technology
  • Practical Nursing

Other exciting things coming this year

  • New directions in Public Safety training
  • Completion of the Learning Center
  • Organizational development based on information gleaned from the Employee Satisfaction Survey
  • Learn Your Way, the College’s initiative aimed at providing more opportunity to busy people unable to attend daytime classes in Fennimore

Since starting at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in July 2011, I have consistently said that the College must act to accomplish three fundamental things if is to thrive into the future. Here are those three things and my dashboard summary of how the College is doing in each.

  1. Student numbers – up
  2. Alternative sources of revenue (including grants, contracts, donations, conservation/lean practices) – up
  3. Fun – up and being worked on

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College has plenty of challenges and a few threats. It also has opportunities and plenty of room for improvement.

But as its employees work to address these, no stakeholder should ever lose sight of the College’s abundant strengths and manifold successes. Southwest Tech is accomplishing its mission and purposes. The state of Southwest Wisconsin’s local technical college is strong and improving.

Posted in General

Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board Leadership Change

Duane Ford and Bob Borremans sharing a few stories.

Duane Ford and Bob Borremans sharing a few stories.

Congratulations to Dr. Robert “Bob” Borremans on the occasion of his retirement from the position of Chief Executive Officer for the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board. Bob has served in that role for the past eleven years. Ms. Rhonda Suda has been selected by the Board of Directors to fill Bob’s shoes.

Rhonda Suda, SWWDB Chief Executive Officer

Rhonda Suda, SWWDB Chief Executive Officer

The mission of the SWWDB’s is to “build a workforce development system through partnerships that is responsive to local business needs and promotes regional economic development.” Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is proud to be counted among SWWDB’s partners for this essential work.

Best wishes to Bob, Rhonda, and all our friends at SWWDB.

Posted in General

Welcome, Students!

Today (8/19/2014), Thursday (8/21), and Saturday morning (8/23) are Welcome Days at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. This week is Southwest Tech’s run-up to the start of classes on Friday, August 22, 2014. Students will also participate in program specific orientation activities.

Welcome Days provides opportunity for new or returning students to come to campus for a tour, pick up their textbooks, get their student ID card, find their way around, meet classmates, have questions answered, and otherwise get oriented to the Southwest Tech campus and life as a Charger.

These days are also an opportunity for students to win prizes through College’s #swtcselfie contest. Here are a couple of selfie shots with me by Katelyn Mathews in criminal justice and Sarah Ferrel  in physical therapist assistant (also in this picture is Stephanie Brown, Student Advisor).

Posted in Celebrations, General