Winter 2020 Meeting Summary

Laverne Hays - Blackhawk Technical College

Laverne Hays

On Thursday evening, Steve Tenpas hosted the New Member Orientation. We welcomed new Trustee Renee Almeida – Moraine Park – who is also an Alumni of her College. Layla noted that the District Board’s ‘reason for being’ is to provide Trustees a greater voice through collaboration. Members are referred toour Association history book, For the Good of the Cause Also noted was that the Presidents Association meets monthly vs our quarterly meetings.

Friday morning began with an excellent presentation by Ben Konruff – WTCS Education Director – on Understanding Institutional Research All sixteen Districts employ Staff who engage in Institutional Research activities (for Blackhawk – think Jon Tysee ) to develop College metrics used for Strategic Planning, Continuous Process Improvement, Student Success practices, Grant Writing. State and Federal Accountability reporting, New Program development, and Marketing. These metrics include enrollment, retention and course completion, graduation and job placement, and are accessed through a Dashboard which – when drilled down through – track by College, year, enrollment, gender, grades, county, course delivery method, and even Institutional transfer data. This was indeed, an impressive demonstration of the collaboration between our Wisconsin Technical College System and its sixteen districts.

Tracy Dryden, Executive Director of Planning and Organizational Excellence for Western Technical College, followed up with how Western utilizes this type of data in their Experience 2025 Initiative. This initiative combines personal and organizational commitment, workforce and community engagement, equity and inclusion support, and the goal to make Western a College of First Choice. They observe that 50% of their students are 1st Generation learners and 24% of them are 18-24 years old as compared to the U-W system where 88% of students are that age. Data also shows that 46% of the student make-up at the technical colleges is over 25 years of age vs 12% in the U-W system. It was pointed out that the number of embedded credentials within the WTCS has increased by over 200 during the last 5 academic calendar years.

After lunch, a panel presented the External Partnership between Western and the city of La Crosse to help transform the community through their wood program. In this program, students learn how to use wood tools, read blueprints, frame a house, and finish the interior – including the kitchen cabinets. In this building & construction trades curriculum, students have built 37 houses since 1996.

During the evening banquet, we heard a Student Ambassador presentation from Evan Whalen, a graduate of the Western Technical College Accounting Program who transferred 65 credits to Vitterbo with sights on B.S. / MBA and CPA degrees.

WTCS Insurance Trust Chair Ron Bertieri, who is stepping down, was also recognized for his twenty-five years of service. During his 50 years of community service, Ron has served on the Menominee school board, the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, WCTS advisory committees, the ACCT Central region nominating committee, has attended 91 Commence exercises, and over 100 DBA meetings. We admire and thank Ron for his years dedication to Technical education.


Systems President Dr. Morna Foy spoke about upcoming Policy and Legislative work for the Systems Board ahead of the new State Budget cycle which will include more Credit Transfers, Program and Dual Credit approvals, Grant awards, and College 5-year strategic plans. Wisconsin has one of the strongest apprenticeships in the nation and those programs are up 40% since 2016. However, as those programs are often cost-prohibitive to small businesses, State Tax incentives are needed to expand those programs even further.

Western President Dr. Roger Stanford shared a success story from the Presidents Association’s Incarcerated Individuals Taskforce. Twelve students from the Jackson Correctional facility completed an electro-mechanical program using a trailer for a classroom. The taskforce is still working to increase program availability to all Special Populations groups within the WTCS.

Layla Merrifield summarized Act 46 which expanded the Universal Transfer Agreement from 30 to 72 credits. There are now 51000 High school students taking transcripted credit courses - not including Youth options courses. Layla asked all of us to begin thinking through our College’s priorities and relay them to her for use in planning

The Benefits and Health consortium continues to grow. Per Committee Chair Ron Bertieri, the savings to Colleges and the 4300 employees over the four year existence is approaching $10 million – mostly through stop-loss savings.

The By-Laws Committee reviewed section 2.00 and 2.01 / State Funding and Revenue Controls and recommended to the Board to leave as is now written. Discussion moved to sect 2.05 / Technical College Capital Financing Authority and review of that section is ongoing within the Colleges.

The Board of Directors reviewed the 2020-21 association budget. As proposed it has a 2% increase. There was discussion to raise salaries to 2-1/2%, and that will be looked into. The Budget will be approved at the April/Spring meeting.