Jason S. Wood, Ph.D., will become the sixth president of Southwest Wisconsin Technical College later this year.
Southwest Tech’s District Board of Directors announced last week that Wood has accepted the position as president of the college. He will begin service on July 1, following the retirement of Dr. Duane M. Ford, who has led the college as president for the past four years.
Eileen Nickels, Board Chairperson, shared that the Board of Directors are pleased to bring an experienced educator with outstanding leadership qualities to serve as college president. The District Board was looking for a president who would share the vision and mission of the College.
“Dr. Wood is an established academic leader, and we are excited to have him join the College as President. We are confident that he will inspire the staff, students and stakeholders to advance Southwest Tech’s tradition of continuous improvement,” Nickels stated.
Wood currently serves as the Executive Vice President for Student and Academic Services at Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyoming.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as president of Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. Thank you to the Board of Directors and the members of the search committee for their time and diligence in the search process. I will do my best to exceed their expectations,” stated Wood.
Wood believes in collaboration, innovation, integrity, and excellence, as cornerstones of a healthy culture that helps students achieve their goals. He looks forward to meeting the many people who make Southwest Tech a great place for students.
“You can expect an emphasis on quality learning for students, a commitment to the community and workforce, and a reputation for institutional excellence. Our greatest resource will continue to be the caring and highly competent people who serve our students and our communities to the best of their ability. We will continue to keep students and their success as our top priority,” Wood shared as his vision for the College.
The selection of Wood ends a five-month national search process. Nickels, along with a committee representing the Southwest Tech District Board, students, faculty, staff, Foundation Board, and regional economic development guided the process for selection of finalists.
“There were many qualified candidates, but we know we have chosen well,” Nickels expressed.
Wood was one of three search finalists who met with Southwest Tech staff and community members during on-campus activities and interviews held in late March and early April. The two other finalists included Dr. Kevin Bernhardt, director of the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement and professor/teacher at University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and farm management specialist for University of Wisconsin Extension and Dr. James Eden, vice president for academic affairs at Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac.
Wood’s career began as a high school Spanish teacher followed by experience in higher education as a recruitment coordinator, senior director of college preparation, college dean, and as a dean for student services at various colleges in the Northwest and Western United States. Under Wood’s leadership, Central Wyoming College has increased course completion rates, student academic progress, and satisfactory academic progress for financial aid eligible students. Wood currently leads the college-wide student success initiative and new academic program development, has aided in the transition to a state-wide performance funding model, oversees the writing of federal and state grants, and is leading Central Wyoming College’s participation in the Higher Learning Commission’s Persistence and Completion Academy. He has extensive experience working with K-12 partners, creating learning communities that link academic courses with local employers, developing and teaching service learning curriculum to enhance academic course content while connecting community partners, and leading efforts to secure new grant funds. Wood earned a Ph.D. in Community College Leadership from Oregon State University and holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Idaho and a Bachelor of Art in Spanish with a minor in History from Brigham Young University.
Southwest Tech’s main campus is located in Fennimore and has over 1,565 full-time equivalent students and serves approximately 11,000 Southwest Wisconsin residents each year. Educational offerings include degree and certificate programs, basic education, high school equivalency preparation, professional development, customized labor training, and emergency responder training.