Friday morning – weathering the hailstorm- we traveled by motor coach to the SWTC campus at Fennimore for our in-service – “Understanding Regional Economic Development.” The presentation was led by Paul Jadin, President of the Madison Regional Economic Partnership ( MadREP ).
There are nine Economic Development agency regions in the State of Wisconsin, and MadREP is the agency for our eight county region here in Southern Wisconsin. A primary objective is to study asset data relating to Quality of Life, Workforce Development Initiatives, Government Leadership, Marketing, and Diversity and Business Retention and Expansion in each of the counties, and then to fill in the voids. Using the interactive dashboard, over 30 peer metrics can be analyzed from throughout the State and Nation. In addition to Business Retention and Expansion, Business Education collaboration data from private industry, K-12, Tech & Private College, the UW system, and Workforce Development Boards is studied. The resulting profile of this regional study offers the ability to market our area both nationally and internationally, educate both business leaders and elected officials, align future talent with workforce needs, and allows career pathway study for students at all levels.
Please go to madisonregion.org and/or careercrusing.com for an interactive experience and further understanding of this organization. The College needs a license/password for faculty and students to logon and navigate some areas of these websites.
Also noted - the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation gave out a record $300 thousand in Tools of the Trade scholarships - 15 recipients were from BTC. I came away from this in-service with a valuable measurement reference for Trustees: For every employee with a Masters degree, two employees are required with a Bachelors. However it will take seven workers with Associate degrees to support them and their business!
As part of the External Partnerships Committee program, everyone shared in a tour – which included a generous dinner – at Biddick, Inc. They produce seed for crops including corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, oats, popcorn, and chia. They also raise cattle which offer a means to ‘recycle’ byproducts of their crops. Their partnership with SWTC includes agricultural summer internships with student housing at the dormitory on the Fennimore campus.
Returning to the Ramada Inn, the Committees met for the remainder of the afternoon. I first attended the Bylaws Committee where we approved changes to our manual amending and incorporating our new committee structure. I then moved to the Internal Best Practices Committee where the guest speaker was Colleen Larsen, the Education Director for Student Services of our Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). She noted that Veterans appreciate having a single point of contact, which eliminates being given conflicting information. This can be a Veterans Benefit person who is knowledgeable about all of their benefits and who is a school-certifying official who reports directly to Veterans Services.
Today’s soldiers typically don’t identify with local American Legions or VFW groups. Thus, they often use the school to associate, and like having a separate area where they can gather. As a whole, veteran students in Wisconsin tend to be above average in GPA’s, but not necessarily in retention numbers. This may be because they expend all their benefits and are not aware of other resources available to them. Even though college application forms are uniform, our data may not reflect actual stats because some choose not to self certify, including the wives and children who may be eligible for benefits. Colleen said 19% of food pantry’s reported serving Veterans – indicating they classify as low income. Some of our TAACT grants were used to achieve credits for prior military learning including medical, IT, and MP. Other funds and grants are consistently available for our Veterans. We were encouraged to ask our Board Chairs to put an update on veteran services on a future agenda. For 2017, there were just over four thousand veterans in the WTCS system earning over sixty-nine thousand credits.
At our evening banquet, Blackhawk Technical College was pleased to introduce and present the co-recipient of the media award to Hannah Flood with WMTV channel 15 out of Madison. Her news clip featuring BTC and its collaboration with SSI industries of Janesville was shown, along with an equally impressive story featuring the Youth Build program at Western Technical College. The latter news-clip was done by WKBT/La Crosse co-anchor Lisa Klein.
Saturday morning – At the Annual meeting, Carla Hedtke (President), Vernon Jung (Vice President), and Betty Bruski-Mallek (Secretary-Treasurer) were reelected as Officers of the District Boards Association.
Morna Foy, WTCS State Board President, reported a 1.5% tuition increase allowance – This equates to approximately $20 per student although we compute this per credit hour. This was established through a budget workgroup that included four state board members, two College Presidents, and various stakeholders. Four public meetings were held with invitations to members of the State Finance Committee as well. Morna spoke at the National Association of Educators hosted by Gateway Technical College where Wisconsin was seen as the ‘Gold Standard’ among attendees. She also spoke at the Chippewa Valley Technical College Alumni Association dinner. This event started a decade ago with 30 attendees and has grown to 360 this year. She also spoke at the ’60 Forward’ event at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC)/New Richmond campus. Recall that the goal here is to have 60% of the workforce achieving postsecondary credentials by the year 2027.
Some discussion centered on closed meetings, and Jon stated that minutes do not have to be kept during closed sessions as long as no action is taken. Minutes are required for Actions items only.
Dr. Susan May shared the President’s report and stressed the importance of Colleges engaging and working with Economic Development groups in their areas, noting we are the ‘hidden weapons’ in workforce development! The Presidents group has standing sub-committees including HR, IT, and Student Services, and notes they are concentrating this year on Corrections Training, Dual enrollment and HLC faculty credentialing, DWD apprenticeships, and ways of importing students from outside of Wisconsin. They have also laid the groundwork in a meeting with legislators for the 2019-21 biennial budget. There were over 70 in attendance - the speaker was Bob Lang of the legislative fiscal bureau. This event was important for the new Presidents in the system. Pain points from college Presidents were assessed – including money to support federal regulation (including Cleary requirements), IT security issues, and student financial pressures.
Thirteen of the sixteen Colleges were represented at the National Legislative Summit (NLS) with over 40 Trustees and five Presidents. We might have to limit the size of the delegations meeting with Legislators in the future, but we also must maintain the recognition of our Central region.
Remember to take advantage of the District Boards Association website for information, reference information, and new Trustee orientation.