From “Finalists named in search for tech college system president” — Morna Foy and Carol Spencer have been named the two finalists in the search for a new president of the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Foy has been a top administrator in the system since 1998, serving since 2005 as executive assistant and vice president of policy and government relations. She also worked in the Wisconsin legislative audit bureau from 1989 to 1998, serving as program evaluation supervisor.

Spencer is a former president of San Juan College in Farmington, N.M., a job she held from 2002 to 2011. Since then she has been executive director of a steering committee overseeing academic transfer programs for the Arizona Joint Council of Presidents.

She has leadership experience at two other colleges. She was a dean at Milwaukee Area Technical College from 1987 to 1991 and was president of Cedar Valley College in Texas from 1991 to 2002.

One of them will be chosen to replace president Dan Clancy, who announced his retirement in July.


Getting a jump on college

December 10, 2012

From “Getting a jump on college” — MISHICOT — When Gabriella Cisneros, a junior at Mishicot High School, found out she could earn college credit in the pre-calculus class she already was taking at the high school, she decided to pay the reduced tuition and take advantage of that opportunity.

“It’s a lot cheaper than if I waited until college,” said Cisneros, who is earning three college credits for $300.

“You’re almost killing two birds with one stone ’cause you get college and high school credit for it,” said Quenten Haack, also a junior in the pre-calculus class.

They are among numerous students earning college credits as part of a dual enrollment program in place at Mishicot High School.

Dual enrollment is different than other programs that allow students to earn college credit in high school, such as Youth Options and Youth Apprenticeship. With Youth Options, students apply to the school board to have the district pay for a college class that is not available at the high school, and Youth Apprenticeship involves coursework at a technical college and work experience at a participating business.

The dual enrollment program offers the opportunity to earn college credit by taking high school classes – at the high school, taught by high school teachers. It differs from the traditional Advanced Placement program in that students taking AP high school classes have to achieve a designated score on the AP exam in that subject in order to receive college credit. The rest of the work they do in the class doesn’t count for college purposes, and in fact, students can take the exam without even taking the class.

Program expanding

While Mishicot High School has offered a couple of dual enrollment courses through Silver Lake College for many years, the program has expanded dramatically in recent years. The number of dual enrollment classes available at Mishicot High School has increased from four classes that could be taken for a total of 12 college credits in 2010-11 to 10 classes for 33 credits this year, according to Marci Waldron-Kuhn, academic adviser and psychology teacher. Another three credits will be added for 2013-14.

Students who enroll in the classes can take them just for high school credit but most opt to pay tuition and earn college credit as well. They pay around $400 or less for each three-credit course, as opposed to about $1,000 if they took it at college, she said.

Mishicot has agreements with four four-year colleges. The school is offering Advanced Chemistry and Honors English through an agreement with Silver Lake College; business management and AP Psychology through UW-Green Bay; pre-calculus and AP Calculus through Lakeland College; and Spanish and sociology through UW-Oshkosh. The credits transfer to other colleges, but whether they transfer and how they transfer – in that subject or just as an elective – varies among the institutions so students are advised to check with the school they’re planning to attend.


Mishicot High School also has arrangements with Lakeshore Technical College whereby students can earn LTC credits without paying tuition. Two classes – marketing and medical terminology – are available at MHS as transcripted courses. Students who earn at least a C in the class receive LTC credits, and the course and grade are recorded on a transcript at LTC. The credits can be transferred to other technical colleges and four-year universities that choose to accept them.

Advanced Standing courses allow students who earn at least a B to avoid taking the same class at LTC, but the classes aren’t recorded on an official LTC transcript. Other technical colleges may accept the classes, but four-year colleges do not. Mishicot offers 11 Advanced Standing classes through LTC.

Glimpse of college

Senior Shelby DeRoche is paying $700 to earn six credits through Silver Lake College for Honors English. She’s planning to attend Madison Area Technical College so she’s not saving as much as students going to a four-year school, but “it’s easier just to get it done right away,” she said.

Her classmate, senior Dalton Derenne, said he would have to pay $1,800 to get the same six credits at UW-Whitewater. And there’s a benefit beyond the cost savings, according to Derenne.

“They try and prepare you the best they can for college,” he said, referring to the high school, “and offering these college courses really gives you a perspective of what it’s going to be like.”

“It gives the kids a glance at the curriculum that they will see in college so it prepares them for that,” said Honors English teacher Jessica Brossard.

The amount of content differs slightly from the equivalent class at Silver Lake College because of time constraints with Mishicot’s block schedule, but “the skills are essentially the same,” she said. “The curriculum keeps changing to keep up with Silver Lake.”

The students “definitely take it more seriously” because they know they need to get at least a C in order to earn college credit, Brossard said. “And they know that it’s the same work that’s being done in college so they know it’s going to be much more rigorous, so they go into it with that mindset and that prepares them then to be successful.”

And there’s another advantage: “I’m in communication with the colleges so I know what my students need,” Brossard said.

Each post-secondary institution has its own criteria for approving teachers to instruct dual enrollment classes, according to Waldron-Kuhn. For instance, UW-Green Bay requires all teachers to have a master’s degree in the subject they’re teaching or in a related field.

Preparing for college

About half of the dual enrollment classes are taught in a blended format, meaning they include an online component along with traditional instruction, Waldron-Kuhn said. When students get to college, they’re going to have online assignments, such as class discussions on message boards.

“We want to expose our kids to that before they get to the university level,” she said.

Expanding the opportunities for earning college credit while in high school is one piece of the puzzle when it comes to Mishicot’s efforts to prepare students for life beyond high school, according to Waldron-Kuhn. Other initiatives in recent years are group advisement sessions, requiring students to complete a career portfolio to be used when applying for college or jobs, and an increase in credits needed for graduation.

From “US Department of Labor’s OSHA renews alliance with Chippewa Valley Technical College in Wisconsin” — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has renewed an alliance with Chippewa Valley Technical College that focuses on health and safety training for college staff, students, local employers and community members.

OSHA and Chippewa Valley Technical College will provide information, guidance, and access to training and related resources to improve employee safety and health as well as develop training programs.

“This alliance presents a great opportunity for OSHA and Chippewa Valley Technical College to continue working together to train employers, workers and students about safety and health issues,” said Mark Hysell, OSHA’s area director in Eau Claire. “Our mutual goal is to protect Wisconsin’s workers.”

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with businesses, trade associations, unions, consulates, professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. For more information, visit

Chippewa Valley Technical College has four campuses in Eau Claire as well as facilities in Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls.

Employers and employees with questions about this or other OSHA alliances and partnerships may call the agency’s Eau Claire Area Office at 715-832-9019.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

From “Walker wants tech schools to address skills gap” — As Gov. Scott Walker looks to technical schools to address the skills gap, some colleges say they’re already doing what’s being proposed.

Walker has been making a continued case for performance-based funding for education, including for tech colleges, to send more skilled workers to businesses that say they can’t find qualified workers to fill needed positions.

“Whatever the reason is, we need to find a way to say not just offer the classes, not just have kids in the classes, but make sure they graduate and get plugged into those jobs,” Walker said on Monday.

But officials at Madison College said they’re already taking strides to do that, including having a business advisory board for every occupational program offered at the college in order to match curriculum and course offerings to what businesses need.

Turina Bakken, associate vice president for learner success at the college, said Madison College wants to be able to offer a diversity of programs but would be open to additional funding to target the skills gap.

“Certainly, there are going to be industry-specific areas where maybe things change more quickly than we’re able to react to, so that’s why any additional funding or creative partnerships we can get and build that will allow us to work in partnership with industry to meet those gaps more quickly, then we’re all for it,” said Bakken.

But the skills gap issue isn’t as simple as that at the college level.

Madison College said it’s graduating as many students as it can given the resources in some programs. In 2011, the college graduated dozens of automotive technicians, machine tooling techs, welders, maintenance technicians as well as medical lab technicians and IT positions. Based on surveys returned from those graduates, most of them got jobs right away.

But the college said that’s not all it can focus on.

“One of our dilemmas is when you get into saying, ‘OK, there’s a need for welders,’ but there’s also a need for child care workers and vet techs and paralegals,” said Bakken. “It’s difficult for us to start to put more value on one industry than another.”

Welding is one of the most popular programs at the college. But meeting the demand for some programs isn’t the only problem.

“For retiring and aging workers, we’re not getting the initial interest from younger (students). There are fewer younger students entering the manufacturing workplace,” said Lisa Delany, associate dean of applied technology at Madison College.

Dan Schmidt, of Lake Mills, is in the welding program at Madison College in hopes of starting a new career.

“The main reason I got into the program was because I lost my position I had after 26 years,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt’s career at Madison Kipp Corporation had given him years of experience but his layoff had him see the light that experience wasn’t enough for some employers.

“I had 12 interviews in a 10-month period, and nobody said, ‘Hey, you’re just the guy I’m looking for,” Schmidt said.

Now as a student at Madison College, he said he hopes a degree in welding will lead to re-employment.

The welding program is one of the most in-demand areas Madison College sees right now.

“We have hired three additional faculty. We’ve expanded our physical capacity here in Madison and at Fort Atkinson,” Bakken said.

Madison College officials said they’re already working with local employers to see workforce trends and to design programs around those trends.

The college also said that manufacturing, health care and IT are also the most expensive programs to fund, so that should be kept in mind when allocating funding to schools in the next budget.


From “New medical college effect will be significant” — The proposed new Medical College of Wisconsin campus in Wausau could have a significant impact on other  higher education facilities in the region.

The announcement of the new Medical College campus is welcomed by Bernie Patterson, Chancellor of UW Stevens Point, who says the two schools are already working on joint research projects.

“There’s a big research component at the Medical College, as there is here,  and in fact we’ve already sent practically a busload of faculty and staff to Milwaukee to meet with their faculty and staff to begin the collaboration two months ago,” he says.

The new campus will also affect the curriculum at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.  President Lori Weyers says there will be hands on opportunities for the medical students with  her school’s health sciences and public safety programs.

“We will be able to simulate a natural disaster and be able to bring the medical students in with our students, paramedics, EMT’s, our nurses, our search techs, that if it would ever happen in real life, they would be prepared to handle it,” she says.

Dr. Brian Ewert, President and CEO of the Marshfield Clinic, sees a win-win, with the new medical students learning at the clinic, and then practicing medicine in the region.

“We’ve been around since 1916 and we’ve been educating doctors for 80 of those 96 years, because we recognize that where physicians train is a strong predictor of where they will practice,” he says.

And Dr. John Raymond, President of the Medical College, says the other institutions could even have teaching space on his new campus.

“There’s the opportunity to bring in other programs, and they wouldn’t necessarily all need to be owned by the Medical College of Wisconsin,” he says.  “We’re up to helping maximize those possibilities.”

The new Medical College campus is expected to open in 2015.

From “Column: MSTC helps close Wisconsin’s skills gap” — Wisconsin’s technical colleges are essential to closing the state’s skills gap, a term used to describe the mismatch between workforce skills and available jobs in business and industry.

Despite persistent unemployment, the Department of Workforce Development estimates there are 32,000 to 45,000 unfilled jobs statewide.

The “Silver Tsunami,” an industry term referring to the impending impact of the retirement of the baby boomer generation, only adds to this workforce shortage.

To help address Wisconsin’s skills gap, Mid-State Technical College continues to offer and advocate for the educational resources MSTC students need to be successful in the workforce.

Half of all jobs require a two-year degree, making MSTC a preferred destination to learn skills for a new career or enhance skills in your current career. Our college serves about 9,000 students per year. In fact, the 16 colleges that make up the Wisconsin Technical College System, or WTCS, serve 370,000 students and form the largest higher education system in all of Wisconsin.

MSTC offers 10 unique career programs that can be found nowhere else in the WTCS. We regularly assess our more than 100 career programs and certificates to ensure they are relevant to today’s economy, enhanced by flexible technology and easily accessible to individuals in our district communities.

Recent survey results indicate that 86 percent of MSTC graduates were employed within six months of graduation. An MSTC associate degree graduate earns an average of $31,000 in their first year, and in their lifetime can expect to earn $400,000 more than those with a high school diploma.

Student success is priority number one at MSTC. Our students experience small class sizes, hands-on instruction, engaging faculty with industry experience, and programs of study tied to local workforce demand. Interested in learning more? Stop by any of our four locations, call 888.575.MSTC, or visit Spring semester classes start Jan. 14. Enroll now!

Sue Budjac is president of Mid-State Technical College.

From “Department of Labor grants to help fill skilled labor gap” — Will it work? Mark Tushar, marketing manager at Derby Molded Products in Neenah and Oshkosh Marine Supply in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, hopes so. “We’ve been looking for some skilled labor, but we’ve been unable to find it,” he reports. His companies, contract manufacturers of injection-molded plastic and of metal parts, need machinists and programmers, but lately has had little luck finding them. He blames a cultural push away from skilled trades. “Kids are pushed toward a four-year college and they’re not given the opportunity, I believe, to try something else that may require going to a technical college or a trade.”

Just seven miles from his plant, however, is Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) in Appleton. Through the second installment of the $2 billion, four-year initiative, FVTC received $3 million to develop the Advanced Manufacturing Pathways PLUS project, a program that focuses on developing skills in electronics/automation, welding and metal fabrication, printing and publishing, and machine tooling. Part of the federal grant dollars are going toward changing that cultural perception says Chris Jossart, spokesperson for Fox Valley Tech. On National Manufacturing Day, the technical college that serves about 53,000 students each year, organized a bus tour of its Oshkosh facility and three area manufacturers. “Immediately,” says Jossart, “when these students come into our Advanced Manufacturing Center, they’re looking at digital, high-tech welding resources that totally change their perception of welding and fabrication as a career.”

Twenty-three-year-old Valarie Wocjik is one of Fox Valley Tech’s success stories. She graduated from the welding program in 2009, transferred to Ferris State University in Michigan through an articulation agreement, and obtained a bachelor’s degree in welding engineering technology. Wocjik is now a project engineer at Hirotec America in Auburn Hills, Michigan, an assembly line fabricator for the automotive industry. “She goes into these manufacturing settings,” says Jossart, “and blows people’s minds when they find out she can weld.”

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants are awarded to partnerships between colleges and employers to promote skills development in fields like advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation. They are targeted, at least in part, at workers who have been displaced by trade policies and outsourcing. The programming developed by the colleges will not remain those schools’ exclusive property. To accept the funding, the partners agree to make all educational materials they develop available for use by the public and other education providers through a “Creative Commons” license.

Every state in the nation has received some level of funding, but more is available with two more rounds to go. Applications for the next round will be reviewed in the spring of 2013. A complete listing of grants awarded to date is available at


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