The Boards Association presents several important awards each year. A number of years ago, we began a very special award, the Technical Education Champion, or “TECh,” Award. The TECh award goes to the heart of what the colleges are all about in our communities. It recognizes key community and industry leaders who demonstrate an exemplary level of partnership with us to promote technical education and economic development.
The Technical Education Champion award is based on five criteria:
We were honored to review a number of nominations for this year’s TECh Award. From the nominees, the committee selects deserving TECh Award winners.
We are honored to present this year’s TECh Award to Mr. Wilson Jones, CEO of Oshkosh Corporation.
Promotion of WTCS or Individual Technical College
Most CEOs of Fortune 500 ® companies don’t, or simply can’t due to scheduling, spend enough time with organizations in their communities. That’s not the case with Oshkosh Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Wilson Jones.
As leader of the largest defense provider for the United States Armed Forces and related interests, Mr. Jones exemplifies a champion of technical education through his company’s hands-on partnership with Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC). The partnership begins in the trenches. Fourteen members of Oshkosh Corporation representing different divisions serve on Advisory Committees at FVTC. Their expertise is vital in shaping curriculum designed to meeting the unique skill set needs of the company and its vendors.
The Oshkosh Corporation umbrella regularly hires FVTC talent. Pierce Manufacturing, the corporation’s largest division dedicated to building fire protection equipment, vehicles, and related apparatus, alone brings on FVTC graduates in the areas of vehicle refinishing, welding, information technology, mechanical design, and administrative support on a regular basis. This example radiates a level of trust and confidence in FVTC graduates. Just last year, Mr. Jones attended a workplace training initiative involving technical colleges, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), and Governor’s office. At the function held at the Appleton International Airport, Mr. Jones commended that any economic-building effort would not be possible without technical colleges.
Not only is Oshkosh Corporation generous in supporting FVTC financially, under Wilson Jones’ leadership the giving is diverse—extending into the in-kind arena as well. His authorization of engines from military vehicles and fire equipment, along with other materials used for training purposes in fields of study like collision repair, vehicle refinishing, welding, and more, are valued in excess of $100,000.
The most recent cash contribution involved Mr. Jones’ personal attendance at a program reception at FVTC. A $50,000 donation from the company’s foundation toward the college’s Promise initiative jumpstarted a million-dollar fundraising campaign over two years (which was met in one year thanks to the momentous lead gift). The Promise program provides free tuition and books for eligible incoming high school students who come from lower-income families.
When FVTC opened its new Public Safety Training Center (PSTC) in 2014, Oshkosh Corporation seized the opportunity to invest $25,000 in scholarships for students entering that sector. Shades of Pierce red fill the inside of the Fire Safety Training Bay at the center from a variety of the latest firetrucks. They are provided to FVTC on rotating consignment so students and fire professionals can always train with the latest technologies. In fact, Pierce’s logo proudly hangs in prominence inside the facility as a symbol of such an innovative private/public partnership.
Lastly, Mr. Jones’ organization supports two summer staple events each year at the college: a youth-oriented Manufacturing Camp and the FVTC Foundation’s Golf Outing for Scholarships.
Utilization of System/College
FVTC’s 80-acre PSTC is one of the best facilities in the nation for integrative training involving law enforcement, firefighters, and paramedics, in addition to being home to specialized programs like Wildland Firefighting and Forensic Science. From day one, Oshkosh Corporation and Pierce Manufacturing have utilized the facility to test its fleet of one-of-a-kind military vehicles and large inventory of firetrucks on the College’s state-of-the-art driving course.
The same equipment is offered to the college for training purposes in both degree programs and continuous education with existing public safety practitioners. Looking ahead, construction is underway at the PSTC to house the Midwest’s only Airport Rescue Firefighting, or ARFF, training center. Anchored by a $10.4 million federal grant, Oshkosh Corporation will bring super military-grade style vehicles into the equation for training exercises once the project is completed.
Oshkosh Corporation and FVTC also collaborate regularly on DWD Fast Forward grants. These awards help train incumbent employees in skill set developments like electrical applications required to build customized fire and emergency vehicles (one the latest project examples). In addition, DWD recently approved a grant to fund the “GED to Work” program that helps Pierce fill a labor shortage while simultaneously assisting people of all ages earn a high school credential through FVTC instruction. The accord ultimately leads to full-time employment for the students upon successful completion of the GED aspect of the program and by way of meeting Pierce’s work requirements.
Advocacy on the WTCS’s Behalf
One of the most impressive leadership traits of Mr. Wilson Jones is his ability to grow talent and mobilize a management team to advance important issues pertinent to higher education. Recognized publicly as one of the top CEOs in the nation in 2018, Jones believes in building transparency through personal advocacy for technical education and training. For example, when the “GED to Work” initiative was conceptualized, he sent a member of his leadership team to present before FVTC’s Board of Trustees about the program. Jones even delivered FVTC’s commencement address in 2017, which included several references to the significant role technical education plays in Wisconsin.
Enhancement of the Community as a Whole
Under Jones’ “roll up your sleeves and get out in the community” persona, Oshkosh Corporation employees are everywhere. The company sustains a vibrant social media presence to promote the volunteerism of its workforce. Recent activities include service to Feeding America, Veterans Storytelling Project, and International Women’s Day. In all, employees donate more than 7,500 hours a year toward local causes. In fact, Jones was acknowledged for his leadership in having Oshkosh Corporation named one of the most ethical places to work in 2019 for the fourth consecutive year by the Ethisphere Institute.
|1994||Banta Corporation - Cal Aurand, CEO||Menasha|
|1995||Doboy Packaging Machinery||New Richmond|
|1997||Miller Electric Manufacturing||Madison|
|1998||Kell Container and the Kell Family||Chippewa Falls|
|1999||Webcrafters and the Frautschi Family||Madison|
|2000||Dr. H. Victor Baldi||Appleton|
|2001||Fred W. Lenz||Blue River|
|2002||J.J. Keller & Associates||Neenah|
|2003||Ministry Health Care||Milwaukee|
|2006||Workforce Connections||La Crosse|
|2009||ProHealth Care, Inc.||Waukesha|
|2012||Kewaunee Power Station - Dominion||Kewaunee|
|2013||Mike Weller - Miller Electric||Appleton|
|2014||John Miller - Miller St. Nazianz||St. Nazianz|
|2015||Jim Sommer - Service Motor Company||Dale|
|2017||Greenheck Fan Corp.||Schofield|
|2019||Oshkosh Corporation - Mr. Wilson Jones||Oshkosh|
|2019||Russ Davis Wholesale||Hammond|
|2019||Cummins Emission Solutions||Mineral Point|