After registering on Thursday evening, I attended the new member orientation where I met seven newly appointed Trustees who were attending for their first time. Steve Tenpas, WTCDBA Assistant Director, hosted the meeting and has put together a very informative orientation explaining the State Board, the District Boards of the 16 colleges that make up the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), and the standing committees of the association which meet every quarter for in-service, legislative issues affecting our colleges, and sharing information on best practices and student outcomes around the districts. There were 58 Trustees in attendance and 10 Presidents registered, but only six attended.
On Friday morning after the general networking breakfast, we traveled by motor coach to Gateway Technical College’s (GTC) Kenosha campus and enjoyed a tour of the Safety Training Center. It is state-of the-art, includes weapons training, blood, clothing, and fingerprint investigation, and is even used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The in-service topic for this meeting was “Boardsmanship.” We broke into groups of eight, and while sitting around tables, each group was given a board game devised specifically for the purpose. It resembled the layout of Monopoly; however, as each player took their turn spinning and moving their game piece, they were given a “Board related” question depending upon where they landed. After giving an answer, the entire group could agree or disagree (some questions were simply true/false) and the game progressed until all players made it into the “Board” room. The game was simplistic, yet informative, and a pleasant departure from the traditional format of speaker/question answer time. Some questions asked the players to reveal their most rewarding experiences, while other questions specifically asked for a decision on a challenging situation. All came away learning something of how different Boards and Trustees have handled various situations, yet everyone was given a refresher on the proper way to conduct a meeting and deal with most issues.
We returned to the hotel and after lunch, we heard reports from Conor Smyth, Director of Strategic Advancement for the WTCS, and from Bryan Albrecht, President of Gateway Technical College. Layla Merrifield, our Executive Director, provided handouts outlining the WTCS Student Success Center and its primary objectives and gave a legislative update and its potential effect to our Colleges. Layla will make a presentation on Shared Governance and our Student Success model at the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) congress.
We then went into our committee meetings. I attended the By-Laws committee meeting, and there is still some confusion about the new/existing committees – especially in regards to the Awards workgroup. The new ones are the External Partnerships and the Internal Best Practices committees. The existing Bylaws, Policies & Procedures Committee carries forward in tack, and the remaining committees are either discontinued or continue “as a whole” – meaning all those at the quarterly meetings can participate. The Awards workgroup and the nominations group will meet as appointed when needed. After approving changes to committee restructuring and recommending still further changes to the committee descriptions, the meeting adjourned and I moved into the Internal Best Practices meeting where members were discussing future agenda items.
Reports from the External Partnership committee were greatly appreciated, and I’m sorry I had to miss attending the tour to Kenall Manufacturing that was set up to highlight one of Gateway’s partnerships with a local business. Gateway has 16 internal partnerships, and their students have logged over 10,000 hours of “giving back” to those sources and to the community. Kenall Manufacturing moved to the Kenosha area three years ago, and Gateway partnered with them to provide training for their employees. Kenall manufactures impact and vandal resistant lighting products, LED lighting, and Indigo-Clean – a continuous environmental disinfection technology that uses visible light to safely, automatically, and continuously kill harmful bacteria which can be easily installed in the ceiling of any room in a hospital.
On Saturday morning, WTCS President Morna Foy spoke to us regarding the system’s five-year plan, and our Student Success initiative – noting we are the 14th state to develop that through grant money from the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation. She gave handouts for each topic. Everyone has high expectations for closer partnerships with K-12 and student outcomes. Katy Petterson – former Marketing Director with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) – has joined the WTCS as the new leader of the Statewide Marketing Consortium. Her objective is to make the WTCS the first choice for education in our State.
Madison College President Jack Daniels III reported the Presidents’ group is focusing on four key issues – 1) Credentialed inmates, 2) Higher Learning Commission (HLC) taskforce on Teacher shortage, 3) Department of Workforce Development (DWD) focus on fast-forwarding and apprenticeships, and 4) Importing students – including our-of-state and foreign – through online and alternative teaching methods. They are also looking at fundraising additional monies for Colleges.
WTCS Insurance Trust Chairman, Ron Bertieri, noted that in its 11-year existence, the Trust has saved our Colleges over $14 million. This year, they have increased liability and cyber security coverage from $1 to $3 million and decreased premiums by $420.00. The Health Consortium remains at six member colleges (two more have expressed interest), and they are looking at adding dental coverage. The Fall Meeting will be in Pewaukee November 1st – 4th. Four breakout tracks are being planned.
In conclusion, I remind everyone that highlights of the meeting will be online at www.districtboards.org in the very near future. Also note that the State Board will meet here at Blackhawk Technical College on November 7th and 8th. It would be nice to have our Board members in attendance.
I would also like to note the article in the Summer 2017 issue of the Trustee Quarterly titled, "Basic Needs Insecurity: The Real Crisis Facing Community Colleges," by Sara Goldrick-Rab, which addresses the food and housing shortage facing many of today’s students. Kudos to our WTCS leadership who already brought Sara to our 2014 Fall Meeting at Nicolet College in Rhinelander nearly three years ago to facilitate that same in-service topic!