From “Job hopefuls line up for Collaborative Consulting’s hiring event at NTC” — Mark Zyhowski began his drive from Rhinelander to Wausau at 7 a.m. Tuesday, eager to get in line to apply for a new job.

Zyhowski is a 53-year-old former plumber who is nearing completion of two computer programming degrees. He thought he would be the perfect fit for Collaborative Consulting, a Massachusetts-based software firm that plans to open a facility next year in Wausau and hire 200 people in three years.

Collaborative launched its recruitment and hiring blitz Tuesday at Northcentral Technical College, searching for computer programmers such as Zyhowski. The job fair continues today, and the company would like to hire 25 people from the fair, a company official said.

“They’re just taking names and information right now to see what everybody has got,” Zyhowski said after a brief meeting with a company recruiter.

On Tuesday, the fair attracted about 130 people with a wide range of professional experience. Collaborative Consulting plans to hire 50 people in the first year of operation, according to state documents. The company picked Wausau as the home for its new site, partly because of an incentive package that includes $2.25 million in state tax credits, a $450,000 city loan and $270,000 in local job-training grants.

Tuesday morning, a line of about 20 people, many dressed in suits and with their resumes in hand, waited for the recruitment blitz to begin at 9:30 a.m.

From “Milwaukee summit considers food production as next industry cluster” — Move over, water industry and wind technology enthusiasts: The latest idea for creating clusters of jobs in Wisconsin is to cultivate the food industry.

From raising crops and fish inside abandoned warehouses to retrofitting blighted buildings into coffee shops or Hispanic food stores, attendees of a community development summit on Tuesday in Milwaukee heard compelling arguments that food production could be the key to growing jobs and prosperity in the state, especially in urban areas.

Armed with a laundry list of ways that Wisconsin reportedly leads the nation in both farming and food and beverage production, the seven-county Milwaukee 7 economic development initiative is actively seeking a site for a “food industry campus” designed to attract manufacturers of food products or equipment as well as food growers, said Shelley Jurewicz, vice president of economic development for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

“We’re looking to secure up to 150 acres of land, and we would go out and aggressively attract either food manufacturers or food equipment manufacturers to create kind of a consolidation of employers and we’re working with (Milwaukee Area Technical College) on developing three different food manufacturing diplomas,” said Jurewicz.

While Jurewicz would not disclose locations under consideration, she said, “we want there to be proximity somewhere to MATC food school so that we tie these industry folks into a talent pipeline coming through the technical college system.”

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From “Western recognized for energy stewardship” — La Crosse, Wisconsin (WXOW) – For saving enough energy in 15 months to effectively plant more than 30,538 trees, Western Technical College was recently presented with The Award for Energy Stewardship from Energy Education. The award recognizes the college’s efforts to implement an organizational behavior-based energy conservation and management program. The program is administered through Energy Education, a national energy conservation company.

“Western Technical College President Lee Rasch, the board members, and administration are demonstrating wise fiscal and environmental stewardship by implementing this unique organizational behavior-based energy conservation program,” said Dr. William S. Spears, Chairman and Founder of Energy Education. “Using human resources to reduce energy use saves natural and financial resources for the organization and the community.”

The program delivers an environmental benefit from reduced carbon footprint. Energy not used prevents the emission of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. According to EPA/EGrid figures, in the first 15 months of the program, Western Technical College saved 11,219 MMBTU, the equivalent of 1,213 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions being prevented, 214 cars removed from the road, or 30,538 pine trees grown for 10 years.

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From “Boot camp planned for new entrepreneurs” — A four-day boot camp intended to help prospective entrepreneurs overcome roadblocks such as how to start, finance and market new businesses will be held this week in Wausau.

The camp, a collaborative effort by Wausau’s Community Development Department, Entrepreneurial and Education Center and Northcentral Technical College, will bring together marketing, law and accounting experts for people looking to turn ideas into companies.

“People may have a good product or a good business idea, but they just don’t now if they can pull a business together,” said Romey Wagner, manager of the Entrepreneurial and Education Center, formerly known as the Wausau Business Development Center. “But with the local instructors, they’ll get a good overview.”

Heather Wessling, assistant community development director for the city of Wausau, said the boot camp, which officials plan to run twice a year, is just a piece of a larger effort to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in Wausau.

During the camp, which will include numerous speakers, participants will develop business plans they can pitch to investors or banks as they seek financing.

From “Respiratory therapy among promising careers in booming health care field” — Crystal Krueger is more “E.R.” than “Marcus Welby.”

A respiratory therapist at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, Krueger enjoys the fast pace of a hospital, compared to the slower home health-care setting, which she tried for a while.

It’s a career choice that provides about any speed and any care-focus a person could want, said Kathy Schlitz, respiratory therapist program director at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

“We work with heart and lung disease from newborn to the end of life,” she said. “Plus, we run ventilators, so we do life-support.”

Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay graduates 16 to 20 respiratory therapy students a year and most of them find jobs, Schlitz said.

“We have a waiting list. I think most schools in the state do have a wait list,” she said. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Students are able to get general education credits out of the way.”

The demand for respiratory therapist jobs, as well as all health care industry jobs, is expected to grow as baby boomers age.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in April that the health care industry continued to grow despite job losses in other sectors of the economy. It will create 3.2 million jobs between 2008 and 2018, according to the bureau’s 2010-11 Career Guide to Industries.

From “New ImproMed office on Ohio Street to create jobs” —  Veterinary software developer ImproMed has started construction of a new, 10,000-squre-foot office on its Ohio Street campus as it prepares to create more than 20 new jobs in the next 24 months.

The new, two-story building gives ImproMed, a Butler Schein Animal Health subsidiary, space to consolidate its Oshkosh operations and to prepare for anticipated job growth as the company continues to add to its market share, ImproMed President Ron Detjen said.

“We saw a good opportunity in our community to grow thanks to city management and improvements in the state’s business climate,” Detjen said. “There’s a great local education system, a great work ethic and the city (of Oshkosh) was a good partner as we developed our plans.”

The two-story building will complement surrounding office buildings, including ImproMed’s existing headquarters at 304 Ohio St. Detjen said the design of the site would also accommodate another 4,000-square-foot expansion if needed to accommodate additional staff beyond the new jobs Detjen expects will be created in the next two years. Construction is expected to finish in March or April and at that time employees working in leased office space in the 600 block of North Main Street and a building in the 200 block of Ohio Street will move into the new building.

From “Return to the U aims to bring adults back to class” — A handful of adult students have returned to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to complete their degrees, thanks to a new program aimed at bringing them back.

The university partnered with Fox Valley Technical College to encourage former University of Wisconsin System students to finish their degrees through the Return to the U initiative. Over the summer, school officials sent letters to former students who had UW-Green Bay credits asking them to consider a return. Another round of letters was mailed to people with some UW credits who live near UW-Green Bay. About 13,500 invitations were sent.

Return to the U received about 100 inquiries, and 13 students signed up for the fall semester, said Steve VandenAvond, associate provost of outreach and adult access at UW-Green Bay.

Almost three-quarters are women, with an average age of 37. Most live in Brown County and have some credits from UW-Green Bay.

“We’re pleased with the response so far,” VandenAvond said. “We expect things to get rolling as we move forward.”


From “Nicolet College already looking for savings in 2012-2013 budget” — The exact deficit Nicolet Area Technical College will face in the 2012-13 budget may not be known yet, but college officials know one thing: the state imposed property tax levy freeze that already affected this year’s budget planning will still be in place. Considering the recent trends of increasing enrollment and other costs that typically see a jump every year, for Nicolet officials it all means, as the adage says, finding a way to do more with less.

While the effects the second year of the tax levy freeze will have on Nicolet College won’t be felt for several more months, college officials have already begun looking at areas where cost savings can be realized in the 2012-13 budget. Tuesday night, during the monthly meeting of the college’s board of trustees, that discussion revolved around changes covering employee leave benefits, health insurance benefits for retirees, and the terms for instructors’ teaching assignments, all areas currently under a collective bargaining agreement that runs through June 2012.

“We’ve had our flexibility taken away (with the levy unable to change this year and next year) and we have to be able to fit our operations into that,” said Sandy Kinney, Nicolet’s executive director of communications. “It’s too early to tell (what kind of deficit there will be for 2012-13), but it’s planning ahead. We know our revenue will not substantially change and some costs go up every year. A majority of our money is spent for salaries and benefits.”

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From “Major efforts afoot to help students navigate voter ID law” — The state’s spring primary is nearly three months away, with more high-profile votes — including a possible recall attempt of Gov. Scott Walker and the 2012 presidential election — even further down the road.

Yet major efforts already are underway to make sure college students who want to vote will be able to do so under the state’s new voter ID law. State elections chief Kevin Kennedy says the law is the biggest administrative change for voting since 18-year-olds were granted the right to vote in 1971.

Some fear that it could keep students away from the polls.

“While the law is not a positive in terms of helping students vote, I think it has spurred a sense of motivation and determination that will hopefully allow us to spread the word to students across Madison about what they’ll need to do to be able to register and then vote next year,” says Sam Polstein, a UW-Madison junior who helped form the Madison Student Vote Coalition, a non-partisan organization dedicated to registering and motivating area students to vote.

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From “Fox Valley Technical College students earn honors” — GRAND CHUTE — Students from Fox Valley Technical College’s dental hygienist program earned first- and fourth-place finishes in a state competition as part of the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association Indigo annual conference.

The first-place winners were Macey Griffith of Menasha and Karleah Edseth of Neenah, whose research topic focused on stem cell tooth regeneration. Fourth-place winners were Hannah Boushley of Neenah and Amber Jentz of Appleton, who presented information on oral human papillomavirus.

The students are preparing for potential participation at the national American Dental Hygienists’ Association research project competitions in Phoenix in June 2012.

From “Technical college students prepare for global economy” — Wisconsin’s technical colleges are expanding opportunities for international education to support a growing number of Wisconsin companies doing business worldwide. As companies expand operations and distribute products globally, they are looking for more graduates with international competencies.

According to local industry representatives, graduates of any business program should demonstrate the following international competencies: Political and legal affairs, language and communication, intercultural communication, economics and trade, geography, current events and study or travel abroad.

However, the vision for international education goes farther than just business programs. Technical college staff are researching curriculum mapping of international education content in all departments of the colleges.

“Colleges are making a wide variety of offerings available, from on-campus events, study abroad opportunities, bringing in international students to our campuses and student exchanges,” says Kelly Holtmeier, chair of the Wisconsin Technical College System’s International Education Committee.

From “Mid-State Technical College considers cutting three health care degree programs” — As health care continues to evolve, Mid-State Technical College might discontinue three degree programs offered at the Marshfield campus, to follow industry trends.

In December, the board will consider suspending the Medical Transcription, Health Unit Coordinator and Medication Assistant programs.

“If conditions in health care change, we can bring the program back for the approval process,” said Janet Newman, dean of MSTC’s service and health division. “If at the end of the three years, conditions haven’t changed, then they would be discontinued.”

The Medical Transcription program, which has been offered since 1979, would be suspended effectively for fall 2012 if approved by the board. The program trains students to transcribe reports in hospitals and clinical settings.

“The number of graduates in the that program have been in the single digits for the last few years,” Newman said. “There really isn’t a real opportunity for employment with the medical facilities located in our district. When we look at our whole program mix, we want to be sure that we are serving the interests of our students as well as employers in our district.”

From “Madison College receives grant from Thermo Fisher Scientific” — Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis., has received a $10,000 Thermo Fisher Scientific Inspire Grant to support student participation in Renewable Energy for International Development. The course, which is offered through Madison College and the Consortium for Renewable Energy Technology, examines energy and economics in developing countries with special consideration to renewable energy sources. The class combines eight weeks of online instruction with 10 days of study and hands-on work in Costa Rica. Students design and install working renewable energy systems that can be applied in developing countries. The Inspire Grant provides six $1,500 scholarships, as well as a $1,000 stipend that will be given to a program participant from Costa Rica to offset their expenses to attend related workshops in Madison.

From “Company doubling jobs with defense contract” — A ship builder in northeastern Wisconsin was recently awarded a defense contract to build ships for the U.S. Navy, and locals are hoping the deal sparks a ship building industry revival. But as military spending faces massive budget cuts, questions about the long-term viability of Marinette’s mini-boom remain. As part of Front and Center, Patty Murray reports.

A shipbuilder in northeastern Wisconsin plans to double its workforce thanks to a contract with the United States Navy. Marinette Marine will build at least ten Littoral Combat Ships. Called the LCS for short, the ships represent a new direction for the Navy, according to company president Charles Goddard.

The LCS is small by military standards. The ships are less than 400 feet in length and are able to navigate in shallow waters close to shore. Each ship costs an estimated $400 million and takes a year and a half to construct. Once the initial ten ships are built and delivered Goddard says his company will have the opportunity to bid on more. He says the Navy may eventually want 55 littorals.

(U.S Navy/Tiffini M. Jones)The company is located in Marinette, Wisc. It’s a city of about 20,000 located 60 miles north of Green Bay on the shore of Lake Michigan. The region has a long history of shipbuilding dating back more than one hundred years. The company itself began making ships in 1942 and has employed generations of area residents.

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From “Language Lessons: Program merges family time, English” — Loreto Nava can be found at Jefferson Elementary School in Wausau most Thursday afternoons for two reasons.

First, he wants to “help my kids to improve at their school,” Nava said. Secondly, he wants to improve his own English skills.

Nava, 29, of Wausau, his wife, Irene, and his youngest child, Dulce, 8, are one of 18 families who regularly participate in an intergenerational educational program designed for Hispanic adults and their children.

The program, Familias Aprendiendo, or Families Learning, is offered through a partnership between Northcentral Technical College and the 21st Century afterschool programs of the Wausau School District.

Northcentral Technical College instructors provide English language lessons for the adults. The Wausau School District offers their children learning activities while the parents learn. And every other week, children and their parents come together for an intergenerational activity, often centered around reading.

The program works well because adults are more likely to participate because they know their children are cared for so they can concentrate on their own learning, said Familias Aprendiendo coordinator Claudia Antolik, who also works as a bilingual liaison at Jefferson Elementary School.


From “What would 200 jobs mean for Wausau?” —  “We have come here today to announce that we have chosen Wausau, WI as home,” CEO William Robichaud told a crowd of over fifty Wausau city leaders.

Collaborative Consulting, a Massachusetts based technical company plans to call Wausau home.  And the company may find a healthy talent pool at Northcentral Technical College.

“We have a great curriculum for Collaborative Consulting. They can see what type of grads this region can produce,” Dean of Business and Industry Solutions Mark Borowicz said.

The school has been working with the city of Wausau to recruit the company to the area. Borowicz says this will help NTC students stick around after graduation.

“They will gain valuable experience, stay in the community, spend dollars. It will really be an economic boom to the entire region,” Borowicz said.

So what did it take to get the company here? Mayor Jim Tipple says about 2 million dollars in tax credits, training money from the state and other incentives from the city.

“This is the step that shows we can handle the types of opportunities at a higher level,” Assistant Community Development Director Heather Wessling explained.

Wessling says Collaborative Consulting will bring in millions of dollars in salaries to the area. “It is a great return on the investment for the city of Wausau and the state of Wisconsin.”

The mayor says the company will pay its employees between 50 and 125-thousand dollars a year.  And that money, he says will boost the local economy.

“People will buy groceries, go to school, fill the schools and it just gets the economy rolling,” Mayor Tipple explains.

The company plans to start hiring next week.

From “Firm to add 200 software jobs in Wausau” — A Massachusetts technology firm will build a software development and support center in Wausau and add 200 jobs over the next three years.

The state offered Collaborative Consulting $2 million in job tax credits and $250,000 in job training credits through the public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to make the deal happen. Wausau will give up to $450,000 in local tax increment financing to help the company locate here.

Corporate executives will visit Wausau early next week to scout a location for their new facility. City officials are steering the company toward existing office space in the Dudley Tower downtown or in the Samuels Group building on the city’s west side.

The tech firm expects to add 50 jobs in the first year, 75 jobs in the second year and 75 to 100 jobs in the third year.

The company will hold a recruitment-hiring blitz at Northcentral Technical College next Tuesday and Wednesday.

City leaders began meeting with company officials in June. Mayor Jim Tipple was poised to make the job creation announcement three weeks ago but postponed it because officials in Oklahoma City countered with a higher offer, sources said.

The City Council held a special meeting in closed session Thursday afternoon to finalize the city’s investment in the project, sources said. Collaborative Consulting president and CEO Bill Robichaud signed an agreement with state officials the next day.

From “Western receives piece of $12.69 million jobs training grant” —  Western Technical College will be able to give extra guidance to dislocated workers transitioning into healthcare programs, thanks to money from a recent federal grant. The three-year $12.69 million grant was awarded to a consortium of seven colleges in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, including Western and two other Wisconsin Technical Colleges.

Western’s $2.1 million share of the “Bridges2Healthcare” grant will be used to create pathways and bridges for student success as they enter the healthcare field. The college hopes that redesigned student services and developmental education made possible by the funds will lead to better retention and achievement rates.

Some of Western’s specific goals include expanding classroom access within several healthcare career paths, designing a new instructional model for Anatomy and Physiology, and providing more intensive advising, tutoring, and intervention efforts. By September 2014, Western plans to increase the number of certificate and degree holders in areas of Personal Care Workers, Nursing Assistants, Central Service Technicians, Surgical Technologists, Human Service Associates, and Medication Aides.

“These new initiatives wouldn’t be possible without this grant,” said Lee Rasch, Western president. “The funds will allow the college to provide needed training that will open doors into good paying careers in healthcare. Ultimately our entire region will benefit.”

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From “Editorial: Jobs are there; let’s get them filled” —  We doubt that there is any one reason or any one area to place blame for the shortage of skilled workers in Wisconsin. But we do believe that everyone has to be part of the solution to the problem.

Gov. Scott Walker has spent a good amount of time traveling around the state in the last few months — including a stop here in Sheboygan a few weeks ago — talking with local business and industrial leaders about jobs.

The session at the Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center in Sheboygan was pretty much a mirror image of similar sessions around the state: business and industry are having a hard time filling jobs because people lack the necessary skills to do the work.

The ManpowerGroup, which tracks employment trends across the country, confirmed this in a recent survey.

It found that the hardest jobs to fill in the United States are: skilled trades, engineers, information technology staff, teachers and machinists and machine operators.

From “Governor’s tools bring ‘real morale problems’ to higher ed” —  Hiked pension and employee health insurance contributions failed to fully offset shrinking budgets at La Crosse higher education institutions.

Gov. Scott Walker’s “tools” dulled the full impact of extensive state aid cuts, but both Western Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse were forced to slash elsewhere to make up the difference.

“A lot of the flexibilities that they talked about have not been realized yet,” said Bob Hetzel, UW-L vice chancellor for administration and finance. UW-L saved about $1.1 million with the tools, but only in the face of $5.2 million in cuts. Then, this fall, the state announced a budget “lapse” for a number of government services, including UW System schools.

The lapse means UW-L will have to find $1.9 million to $3.2 million to return to the state. The state has yet to decide the exact amount.

Savings from Walker’s tools — increased pension and insurance contributions — come with a big downside, UW-L Chancel-

lor Joe Gow said. They hit the pocketbooks of university faculty and staff, especially those on the low-end of the pay scale.

“The effect of this is that state employees are taking home less compensation,” Gow said. “That causes real morale problems.”

The university has put off maintenance and improvement plans to fill the gap.

Western lost $2.3 million in state aid, and Walker’s tools saved the college only $1.5 million. Western was forced to cut classes and staff positions to make up the difference.

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From “LTC offers seminar for plumbers” — CLEVELAND, WI – Lakeshore Technical College will offer an evening seminar in December for plumbers who need to earn continuing education credits. The Plumbing Code Continuing Education seminar Dec. 12 will focus on plumbing codes for wastewater treatment devices in commercial kitchens.

This seminar provides three hours of continuing education credit as approved by the Department of Commerce for those with credentials as master plumbers, journeyman plumbers, UDC plumbing inspectors, and commercial plumbing inspectors. The course will be taught by John W. Kollman III, a master plumber and plumbing instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

The seminar will take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 12 in the Wells Fargo Conference Room on LTC’s Cleveland campus. Cost is $50; refer to class No. 68172. To register by phone, call 888.GO TO LTC (888-468-6582), ext. 1366, or register online at For questions or detailed information, call Ruth at 920-693-1167 or email at

From “November 16 is MATC Day in City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County” — Elected officials from the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and the state of Wisconsin celebrated Milwaukee Area Technical College’s centennial at a luncheon Nov. 16 on the college’s Downtown Milwaukee Campus.

Close to 150 business and community representatives gathered to mark 100 years of innovative education MATC has provided to area residents and businesses. MATC President Dr. Michael L. Burke, MATC District Board Chairperson Melanie Holmes and MATC Foundation Board Chairperson Dr. Robert Davis shared remarks with the luncheon attendees.

United States Senator Ron Johnson remarked in a letter that was read at the luncheon, “MATC has served as the ‘bridge to a better future’ for countless students pursuing degrees, diplomas, certificates and apprenticeships in 200 program areas. I commend your milestone and congratulate you and the thousands of staff members and educations who have made MATC a distinctive leader in the service of higher education.”


From “BTC air mechanic program suspended” —  The Blackhawk Technical College Board on Wednesday suspended two programs that have graduated an average of 10.6 students a year at a cost of $470,000.

One of the programs—the Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic Program—will continue operating for at least a year using money from reserves until enrolled students can graduate, but not additional students will be enrolled.

BTC President Tom Eckert said he has a “glimmer of optimism” that he might find private money to retain the airframe program. It costs is $370,000.

About two dozen people spoke Wednesday in support of keeping the aviation program, and Eckert said Thursday nobody doubts its quality.

Russians travel to Wisconsin

November 18, 2011

From “Russians travel to Wausau” — A cultural exchange program has brought five  Russian visitors to Wausau. They are taking part in a cultural exchange program called Open World at the Northcentral Technical College.

The group met with members of the local media representing TV, radio and newspapers this morning. The gathering gave participants a chance to learn more about how news is covered in this country. The local news outlets provided a glimpse into what their work is like in North Central Wisconsin.

Dee Olsen coordinates the Open World Program. She says the participants have had a chance to see how the U.S. government works, through visits to Washington, D.C., Madison and the Wausau area.

The timing of their visit, prior to the 2012 election and with  recall efforts underway ( in response to the Governor’s  decision to take away most collective bargaining rights for public workers) offers the Russian visitors a glimpse of democracy in action. Olsen adds,”Our political scene in Wisconsin, is very diverse, there are people for and against and they are seeing and hearing both sides of the issue, and wondering what will happen.”

The Open World project dates back to 1999. Most participants are government workers. It is federally funded to promote cultural exchanges around the globe.

From “Grant supports program for CVTC to UW-EC transfers” — A UW System grant has made possible a pilot program at UW-Eau Claire to ease the transition for and success rate among students who transfer to UW-EC from Chippewa Valley Technical College.

The CVTC to UW-Eau Claire Transitions Program is funded by a grant of $47,350 from the 2011-12 Growth Agenda Grant Program, established to support initiatives to advance the goals of the UW System Growth Agenda for Wisconsin.

The transitions program serves CVTC transfer students both while they are still enrolled at CVTC and after they enroll at UW-Eau Claire, said Bonnie Isaacson, nontraditional student coordinator in Academic Advising at UW-Eau Claire. The grant supports a half-time UW-Eau Claire advising staff member who fosters cooperation among staff members at CVTC and UW-Eau Claire, a student-to-student mentoring program, more specialized advising for transfer students from CVTC, and information sessions about the transfer process for CVTC students thinking about transferring to UW-Eau Claire, Isaacson said.

More students transfer to UW-Eau Claire from CVTC than from any other school, said Debbie Gough, UW-Eau Claire’s director of Advising and New Student Initiatives and the Student Success Network. During the 2009-10 academic year, the last year for which data is available, 143 students transferred from CVTC to UW-Eau Claire. That number represented 15 percent of UW-Eau Claire’s transfer students, said Gough.


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