From “MSTC centennial events scheduled central Wisconsin campuses” – WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Mid-State Technical College is celebrating its centennial as a leading provider of higher education and training in central Wisconsin.

Smaller beginnings 100 years ago have evolved into a network of educational opportunities throughout what is now known as the Mid-State Technical College District. Today, the college provides more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates, including 10 Wisconsin Technical College System programs you will only find at MSTC.

In celebration of the centennial, people throughout the college district are invited to attend centennial celebrations at each of MSTC’s four locations.

The first of the four centennial celebrations will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Wisconsin Rapids Campus, 500 32nd St. N., Grand Rapids. A re-dedication ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. in rooms L133/L134, followed immediately by a commemorative outdoor photo.

Visitors can experience hands-on demonstrations, visit high-tech labs and classrooms, explore career programs and certificates, discover new learning technologies, and meet faculty, staff, students, and college leaders, according to Centennial organizers. Approximately 600 to 650 high school students also are expected to be on campus that same morning for centennial themed events.

A similar celebrations also is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at Marshfield Campus, 2600 W. Fifth St., Marshfield.

Each celebration event is open to the community and honors MSTC’s past while celebrating its future. Attendees can enjoy a traveling historical display and a local flavor of snacks and refreshments from businesses throughout the college district. The Stevens Point Campus Centennial Celebration will be held on the new Stevens Point Campus and coincide with the grand opening and ribbon cutting.

The MSTC Foundation kicked off the year’s celebration by hosting a Centennial Bike Ride & Walk on Sept. 14. This non-competitive event which included 100K, 50K, and 10K bike routes and a 10K walk option drew 150 bikers, walkers and volunteers. More than $8,000 was raised with all event proceeds going to student scholarships. About 80 percent of all MSTC students receive some kind of financial assistance.

MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin with campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams. MSTC students often save money and graduate with less debt than their four-year institution counterparts—a big reason why 95 percent of MSTC graduates say they are satisfied with their MSTC education. Instructors are industry experts who are passionate about sharing their skills and insights. Smaller classes and flexible scheduling foster student success. Students gain the real-world skills and experience employers seek, contributing to the fact that nearly 9 out of ten MSTC graduates are employed within six months of graduation.

Go to for more information about these centennial events or to learn more about MSTC’s history.


From “Event inspires administrators to go two-wheelin'” — GRAND RAPIDS — These days, Sue Budjac, of Rome, and Connie Willfahrt, of the town of Arpin, might consider riding their bikes to their Wisconsin Rapids campus office as a simple jaunt.

That might not have been the case last spring, when Budjac, Mid-State Technical College president, and Willfahrt, vice president of student affairs and information technology, decided to participate in Saturday’s centennial bike ride, a kickoff event to the college’s 100th anniversary celebration.

The ride will highlight the employee wellness program and offers a ride — or walk — at three levels: a 100K and 50K bike ride and 10K ride or walk, Budjac said.

“It (also) allows us to extend an invitation to community members throughout our district in hopes of engaging them in our celebration,” Budjac said.

The noncompetitive event benefits the college’s scholarship program.

“In addition to celebrating the college’s 100 years, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate and help reduce barriers for our students, because the funds that, either through donations that have been made or through registration fees, those funds are going to go to assist students through emergency loans and scholarships,” Budjac said.

More than 80 percent of the college’s almost 9,000 students at its four campuses get some type of financial assistance. The average age for students is about 28, and many are working and have families, Budjac said.

“They struggle every day to achieve their education goal, and a scholarship makes a huge difference in them being able to continue with school,” she said.

It might have been easy for the administrators to sit back and be content to help facilitate and support the event from a bystander aspect. But these two women decided to lead by example. They bought bikes, helmets — even bike wear.

“If I were a designer, I would design much more complimentary bike shorts,” quipped Budjac.

Willfahrt laughed.

“It’s not about fashion; it’s about comfort,” she said.

“What really motivated me was the excitement that has been brewing throughout the weeks and months of planning and wanting to jump in and be part of that,” Willfahrt said.

It’s been a work in progress, but both could be considered accomplished bikers. Willfahrt participated in her first official event, a 70-mile ride in Door County, which she proudly finished in just more than five hours.

Budjac’s practice route was a 60-mile trek around Lake Petenwell.

“That’s a lot of butt-to-seat time,” Budjac said, regarding the length of the rides.

Both said they have relished the training journey and look forward to Saturday’s ride. They’ll both participate in the 100K ride — just more than 62 miles.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying this, so I anticipate participating in an event at least once or twice a year,” Willfahrt said.

Budjac is along for the ride, but more as a recreational biker.

“I don’t see another 100K in my future, but I’ll keep riding,” Budjac said.

From “MSTC celebrates centennial with ride/walk” — In celebration of 100 years of central Wisconsin education and training in what is now known as the Mid-State Technical College, or MSTC, District, the MSTC Foundation is hosting a Centennial Bike Ride & Walk on Sept. 14. This non-competitive event includes 100K, 50K and 10K bike routes and a 10K walk option. All routes begin and end at MSTC’s Wisconsin Rapids Campus.

The 50K and 100K bike routes meander throughout north Wood County. The 10K bike and walk routes go around Lake Wazeecha in South Wood County Park. Beverage and snack stations will be provided for participants along each course.

Registration costs $25 per person and includes opportunities for prizes. Children 12 and younger are free and must be accompanied by an adult. An event T-shirt will be provided to all participants who register by Aug. 21. All biking participants must wear helmets.

Proceeds of this event support the educational programs of the college through educator and student grants and scholarships. Contributions are tax-deductible.

Additional information and the event registration form are available online at or call the MSTC Foundation office at 715-422-5322 or email

MSTC’s Centennial Celebration includes a total of five events during the 2013-14 school year. In addition to the Bike Ride & Walk, people throughout the college district are invited to attend centennial celebrations at each of MSTC’s four locations: Wisconsin Rapids Campus on Oct. 10, Marshfield Campus on Oct. 22, Adams County Center on Nov. 5, and Stevens Point Campus on June 4, 2014. Each celebration event honors MSTC’s past and celebrates its future. Centennial organizers say visitors of the final four events will have the opportunity to learn about new technologies, view fascinating hands-on demonstrations, tour facilities, and explore MSTC student services and academic programs.

MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, is a leading provider of higher education offering more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates, including 10 Wisconsin Technical College System programs you will only find at MSTC. Student-focused and community-based, MSTC serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin with campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams. Smaller classes, flexible scheduling, and instructor involvement all foster student success and contribute to the fact that nearly 9 out of ten MSTC graduates are employed within six months of graduation.

From “CVTC buries time capsule Monday” — A message for the future was left underground Monday at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

The school dedicated and sealed away a time capsule that’s going to be opened in 25 years. The capsule contains items ranging from a pair of a scissors from the barber-cosmetology program to student handbooks to a copy of the college’s budget.

CVTC President Bruce Barker told us “September of last year was actually our 100th anniversary and so we think it’s fitting to pay tribute to all those who came before us and honor what they accomplished and to look forward. Also to savesome of the memorabilia from today so that the people can look at it in the future.”

The group also re-dedicated a 1987 time capsule that was opened last year.

The time capsules were sealed in large plastic canisters and placed underground in chambers, and identified with a stone marker.


From “Centennial celebration planned for MSTC” — By Sue Budjac, president of MSTC – Warm summer days and the presence of students heading to summer classes remind me that a new academic year is right around the corner.  Yet this Fall Semester will be a little different.  While every year is important, this one has special meaning because Mid-State Technical College (MSTC) celebrates its centennial in 2013-14.

MSTC’s Centennial Celebration is an opportunity to honor and treasure our past and celebrate our exciting future.  I can’t imagine commemorating this milestone without our former and current students, retirees and current employees, board members, and many business and community partners.  MSTC’s 100th birthday illustrates the value and significance of the training and services that MSTC provides to Central Wisconsin.

Each of MSTC’s four locations will host a centennial celebration during the upcoming academic year.  These free events offer fascinating, interactive, hands-on demonstrations and display new learning technologies and facilities.  Wisconsin Rapids Campus will lead off the festivities on October 10 with a program showcase for middle and high school students/staff in the morning and a variety of afternoon and early evening activities for members of the community.

Marshfield Campus and Adams County Center will host similar events on October 22 and November 5, respectively.  Stevens Point will close out the festivities in the New Year with the grand opening of the new Stevens Point Campus (1001 Centerpoint Drive), tentatively scheduled for January 30, 2014.  Bookmark to learn more about MSTC’s Centennial Celebration as details become available.

Future students will have many opportunities to explore MSTC’s 100+ career programs and certificates to determine which one right for them.  Former students can also reconnect through MSTC’s new alumni association; visit to sign up!

You are also invited to attend this summer’s Centennial Bike Ride & Walk Event on September 14.  This event includes 100K, 50K, and 10K biking routes and a 10K walk option, with all routes beginning and ending at MSTC’s Wisconsin Rapids Campus.  The cost is $25 per person and proceeds benefit student scholarships/grants and college educational programs.  Contact the MSTC Foundation Office at 715-422-5322 or visit for additional information and registration.

As I pause to reflect on 99 years of MSTC education and job training, I am humbled by the quantity and quality of talent that has passed through our hallways over the years.  A century of experience has refined our ability to maintain a vibrant selection of programs and respond quickly to changing employer needs.  This is a key reason why 85% of MSTC graduates are employed within six months of graduation and 95% of employers believe an MSTC education meets or exceeds their expectations.  If you are seeking a new job or career and want to get back into the workforce quickly, consider an affordable education 100 years in the making.  Call Mid-State Technical College at 1-888-575-MSTC, visit, or stop by the MSTC location nearest you.  Fall Semester begins August 19.

From “Lakeshore Technical College celebrates 100-year mark” — CLEVELAND — Lakeshore Technical College celebrated its 100th anniversary Wednesday afternoon with an hour-long program that included a student’s tearful testimonial, a Lakeside Foods representative toasting the college with a can of the company’s peas, and two retired LTC presidents helping to unveil a plaque that will be used on an outdoor centennial monument.

“I never thought I would say it, but I love being in college,” said Alyssa Young, a student in the Administrative Professional program. “I love going to class and that I don’t really mind doing my homework. And it’s all thanks to amazing staff and faculty here at LTC. My teachers are very understanding, and if I have to miss class because my son is sick … they understand because they’ve been there, too. … This place is like a second home to me and it’s going to be … a sad day when I graduate, but I will always be proud to say that I’m a Lakeshore Technical College graduate for the rest of my life.”

Young decided to enroll after seeing her mom and sister graduate from LTC last year. She said she hadn’t been making enough money to support her 5-year-old son and herself, and when she saw her family members graduate she decided she wanted to earn a degree.

“I want to be able to support my son and give him a better future,” she said.

“Please know that you are the reason that we do what we do,” LTC President Mike Lanser told Young after her emotional remarks.

Alumnus success

Dean Halverson, CEO of Leede Research, which has offices in Manitowoc and Minneapolis, attributed the direction his life has taken to his time at LTC. After earning an associate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc in 1980, Halverson decided he wanted to pursue a career in marketing, and someone suggested what then was called Lakeshore Technical Institute.

“A lot of people say something changed their life, but I can honestly say it did change my life,” he said.

As a student, he worked on market research surveys for WCUB radio two years in a row and decided he enjoyed it. The day after graduating in June 1982, he typed 96 letters to Wisconsin radio stations announcing the formation of Leede Research. The company will celebrate its 36th anniversary in June and has a staff of just under 85.

He attributes his ability to make a living through his own company “to what happened here, and really what happened here that was so unique was bringing together students, instructors and thebusiness community and doing it in a way that was very hands-on.”

‘Uniquely adaptable’

Richard Opie, an instructor in the paralegal program, speaking on behalf of the faculty, said technical colleges are “uniquely adaptable to the changing needs of the community. We come up with new programs … within six months of their request. … If there’s a need in the community we come up with it.”

Technical colleges also are open to students of all ability levels and allow students to meet their goals within a year or two, Opie said.

Tom Reilly, senior vice president-human resources for Manitowoc-based Lakeside Foods, which has been in operation for 125 years, provided employer remarks.

“What Lakeside and LTC know is the secret for longevity and success, and that is satisfying your customers, especially with their changing expectations and demands,” Reilly said.

Lakeshore Technical College achieves success through “phenomenal facilities” and “a terrific staff,” he said just before toasting the college with a can of Lakeside peas.

Centennial monument

Retired LTC presidents Dennis Ladwig, who served in that capacity from 1988-2003 when Lanser took over, and Fred Nierode, who was president from 1967-88, assisted with the dedication of a plaque that will be used for a centennial monument. The monument will be part of a garden that will be designed and developed by the school’s horticulture students on the west side of the Lakeshore Building “that we hope to have in place by the fall,” Lanser said. A time capsule will be placed under the monument.

TopTech Awards

LTC used the occasion to present its first TopTech Awards, which will become annual and are designed to recognize K-12 educators. This year’s recipients from Manitowoc County are Ron Schneider and Dave Teske from the Kiel Area School District, and from Sheboygan County the recipient is Ed Hughes from Sheboygan Falls.

Other presenters

The celebration also included the national anthem sung by LTC student Ruby Garcia; presentation of the governor’s proclamation of May 8, 2013, as Lakeshore Technical College Day in the state of Wisconsin by Reggie Newson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development; remarks by LTC District Board Chairman John Lukas and Wisconsin Technical College System Board President Mark Tyler; and comments from LTC alumna Shirl Breunig and support staff representative Kelly Carpenter.

From “Editorial: Tech schools fill big need” — It’s a crown jewel in Wisconsin’s educational system, but doesn’t always get the attention, or the appreciation, it deserves.

The state’s 16 vocational-technical colleges collectively serve tens of thousands of residents, from teenagers to the elderly. Students come to learn scores of skills that help them obtain good jobs, from carpentry to high-tech positions.

One of the smaller — but more sophisticated of those 16 schools that serve Wisconsin is Blackhawk Technical College. Its main campus is on Prairie Road between Beloit and Janesville. Branch campuses are in Monroe and in the Eclipse Center in Beloit. There’s a smaller training center at Janesville, and an aviation unit at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

WE DRAW READERS’ attention to Blackhawk Tech because the college is observing its centennial next week. There’s a campus open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a celebratory dinner and scholarship fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 13. And there’s much to celebrate.

BTC currently has some 5,700 students. Enrollment tends to fluctuate from perhaps half that number to over 6,000. Since the General Motors plant in Janesville shut down in 2008, former GM employees have joined younger and older students to retrain for new careers.

Blackhawk Tech’s president, Thomas Eckert, proudly asserts that the school has dedicated itself to meeting current shortages of skilled workers, be it in construction, manufacturing, the medical profession or other fields. Meanwhile, there are assorted courses for those who simply want to find fulfillment in art, literature and so forth.

STUDENTS’ AGES VARY from the mid-teens to 90 and sometimes beyond. If there’s enough demand for classes in basket-weaving or parachute jumping, the technical colleges probably can provide the teaching required.

Blackhawk Tech’s student body currently consists of about 3,000 at the central campus, whose facilities constantly are being improved; to the Beloit campus’s enrollment of about 1,400 and a similar number at Monroe.

Eckert is proud to point to BTC’s record of having most who graduate with technical, associate or other forms of certification, find the right employment soon after they complete their one- or two-year stints at the college. Eighty-seven percent of grads find jobs within six months.

ALL OF WHICH suggests that the technical college system helps Wisconsin keep its manufacturing, construction, medical and service industries supplied with the workers needed. It’s been doing that since the state directed public school systems back in the Fall of 1912 to create “vocational schools” for young people wanting to find paying jobs instead of finishing high school, or older folks who were either under-employed or had no job-training.

Older Beloiters will remember the Vocational-Adult school on Fourth Street, which served until the 1960s. Other cities, including Janesville, had similar schools. The popularity — and productivity — of the local schools prompted the state to create 16 districts, each to be served by a central campus and branches as needed. The Blackhawk Tech district, serving primarily Rock and Green counties, is the fifth smallest of the state’s 16 tech colleges.

It turns out that the colleges have been a good investment. Blackhawk Tech’s current budget is about $50 million. That may seem like a lot, but consider that in a year’s time, as many as 4,000 get the training they need to enter the workforce. That’s a good investment. Tuition, often supplemented by financial aid, accounts for about half of the budget. Local property taxes and state aid make up the difference.

AGAIN, THOSE FIGURES may seem hefty, but Eckert says that the community, in one way or another, realizes benefits of $140 for every $100 spent.

Wisconsin’s public school system is, of course, vital as well as costly. And the University of Wisconsin system, with its two- and four-year campuses (including UW-Rock County) ranks with some of the best among the state. So do our private colleges, including Beloit College. We’re fortunate, indeed, that the Badger State’s technical college system bridges what would otherwise be a wide gap between the public schools and the colleges that not everyone wants, or can afford, to attend.

ANNIVERSARY CONGRATULATIONS go out to the technical college that serves our area so well, and to the foresighted leaders of earlier years, who saw the need, and filled it.

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