H. Jeffrey Rafn, Ph.D. is the president of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), managing the operation of NWTC’s three campuses and six regional learning centers, which serve over 30,000 students and more than 900 businesses annually.
Under Dr. Rafn’s leadership, the 100-year-old college has been transformed into a team-based, customer-focused organization and enrollments have risen 62%. He led two successful referenda which created industry-leading facilities in health sciences, business and information technology, traditional and renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, construction trades, public safety, and general studies.
Dr. Rafn serves on the executive boards of Community Colleges International Development and the Workforce Development Commission of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and several local and regional organizations. He is a champion of industry and K-12 partnerships, and has been instrumental in the development of the NEW Manufacturing Alliance, which has over 200 members.
Under his leadership, NWTC has been recognized as an Achieve the Dream Leader College for student success initiatives, and has been a finalist for several American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Excellence Awards. He received the 2015 Pacesetter of the Year award from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, and 2016 Giving Back Award for Presidents and Chancellors from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
Dr. Rafn has created a culture that is data-driven and evidence-based, both in academics and in operations. NWTC was selected by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and partners for the Frontier Set, a small group of high-performing colleges that are leaders in transformational change for student success. NWTC also received a Gates Foundation iPass Grant, which promotes student success through advising, degree planning, alerts and interventions. Achieving the Dream awarded NWTC the OneMain Financial Award for coaching students for success, and the Government Finance Association (GFOA) awarded NWTC a national Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
Grant support for the College’s initiatives has come from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Labor, Lumina Foundation, the Green Bay Packers, and other national and regional funders. This has built student success opportunities including record scholarship awards, faculty professional development, international exchange, free tuition for low income high school seniors, College Comeback Program for returning adults, and an employee giving program with 89% staff participation.
Dr. Rafn came to NWTC in 1997 from New Hampshire, where he had been state Commissioner of the New Hampshire Community Technical College System. He had also served for 18 years as an administrator and educator in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He earned his PhD from Boston University.