NWTC President Rafn writes on designing buildings to boost student success

Wednesday August 24, 2016
Dr. Jeff RafnDr. Jeff Rafn, president of NWTC, has an article in the latest issue of Community College Journal about how building design can affect student success. Rafn was invited to write the article on managing culture change by the American Association of Community Colleges for its national higher education magazine. 

Read Dr. Rafn's article: "Facilities Facilitating Culture" in AACC's Community College Journal

NWTC is in the midst of constructing and remodeling several buildings to create more capacity in career areas that are experiencing the most acute shortages. Career areas most affected include information technology (IT) and digital media, energy and transportation. All construction is on target to be completed by 2018 so that needed skilled employees can enter the Wisconsin workforce and support Wisconsin employers. 

However, facilities are remodeled for reasons other than fitting in new chairs or equipment. Buildings erected in 1972 and 1978 did not include space where students could work in teams, learning critical interpersonal and accountability skills that employers need. New designs promote conversations and information sharing between degree programs, preparing students for a modern workplace in which they will need to collaborate with people from other specialties and industries. They include more charging stations, wireless and plugged connections, study areas and relaxation spaces. 

This is the second referendum construction project during Dr. Rafn's tenure. The first wave, which followed a 2001 referendum, also transformed the student experience on campus. The college created revolutionary Student Center which brought nearly all student services together in one place, eliminating the need for students to wander from building to building to get all of their needs met. (The concept was so unusual that NWTC staff were making presentations across the United States for years after construction was completed.) The new building included the college's first-ever commons, which gave students a comfortable place to work together or relax between classes. Other projects expanded capacity in high-demand fields such as nursing, public safety and manufacturing.

Read Dr. Rafn's Community College Journal article about creating buildings that help students succeed


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