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Community Corner: Southwest Tech in 201314
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Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is a unit of local government, owned by the approximately 127,000 citizens within its District, governed and held accountable by a Board comprised of nine local citizens, and devoted to preparing or retraining people for family supporting jobs and careers.

What follows is a high-level review of SWTC’s 2013–14 accomplishments. These speak to and reflect the outstanding work done day-in-and-day-out by SWTC’s excellent employees. They are the folks that make highlights as scintillating as these a reality. Thank you and congratulations to each and every one of them.

In 2013–14, Southwest Tech showed increases in all of the following:
•    Full time equivalent student numbers were up about 1 percent. Indeed SWTC appears to be the only Wisconsin technical college to show enrollment growth.
•    SWTC graduated 761 students.
•    Through dual enrollment it awarded college credit to around 1,500 high school students.
•    It received 52 state and federal grants providing $2.95 million in grant.
•    It helped improve the knowledge and skills of the region’s incumbent workforce, awarding nearly 10,000 credits for customized instruction.
•    Through the generosity of its donors, the Southwest Tech Foundation awarded 200 scholarships worth a total of $130,000.

While growing in those, Southwest Tech held its own in several areas where it has traditionally excelled, including total student headcount, graduation rate, job placement rate, and employer satisfaction. SWTC serves more than 11,000 students per year and places more than 90 percent in jobs within six months.

Significant projects included the completion of its Systems Portfolio, a critical self-assessment, required by the Higher Learning Commission as part of SWTC’s application for reaccreditation; expansion and equipment upgrades in its Platteville and other outreach centers; renovation of Creative Elements Salon, the laboratory supporting cosmetology training; implementation of a new website, improved online registration and other services, and a customizable e-brochure system.

SWTC also entered into new strategic partnerships. Franklin University now provides 3+1 baccalaureate degree completion programs in Allied Health Management and nursing on the Southwest Tech campus. Crossing Rivers Health opened a health clinic in Southwest Tech’s Health Occupations Building with plans to expand into dental and mental health services. The Southwest Health Network was established to support the education and training of health information technology professionals.

Finally, the hard work of many instructors, staff members, and administrators has set up Southwest Tech for a brilliant 2014–15. New programs are opening, specifically, associate degrees in health information technology, cancer information management, and supply chain management as well as technical diplomas in industrial mechanic and laboratory science technician. Additional sections will be offered in welding, agribusiness/science technology, and practical nursing to meet employer and student demand. “Learn Your Way,” SWTC’s initiative for providing flexible learning opportunities for busy people, has rolled out.

Since starting in July 2011, I have consistently said that Southwest Tech must accomplish three things, and it is doing so. Student numbers, revenue from sources other than taxes and tuition, and SWTC’s image and reputation have all improved.

The Community Corner is a weekly column of opinion written by guest columnists UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields; Platteville School District Superintendent Connie Valenza; Platteville Regional Chamber Executive Director Kathy Kopp; Main Street Program Director Jack Luedtke; State Rep. Travis Tranel, Platteville City Manager Larry Bierke and Police Chief Doug McKinley.