Presidential Transition

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Dr. Kristen Raney with trades students
Dr. Kristen Raney with trades students

My welcome to NWTC and Northeast Wisconsin has truly been amazing. When I became the eighth president of the College, I knew I was joining an extraordinary college with a long history of innovation and excellence. I also knew that the best way for me to lead the College forward was to learn as much as I could about the College and the communities we serve.

I am grateful for the opportunities to meet with College employees, students, community leaders, and educational partners. One conversation at a time, I heard stories and examples of different ways NWTC has changed the lives of students and strengthened the area workforce. One proud NWTC graduate described his successful career in IT—a career his younger self never thought possible. “I was a hot-headed teenager who somehow found my way to NWTC. The faculty and advisors stayed with me and kept me going. I’ve had an incredible life because of it.”

I will carry these stories with me. In turn, I will tell everyone I have discovered that NWTC is an award-winning college for many reasons, but people and community are at the top of the list. We have dedicated faculty and staff who are deeply committed to students. The community support for the College, the innovative partnerships, and collaborative initiatives create pathways for students that improve the economic vitality of our region.

I am proud and humbled to serve this college and our community. It is a privilege to learn from and work with all of you who make NWTC so amazing.

Community Conversations

The Community Conversations tour brought me to NWTC’s regional learning centers across the nine-county district. It was a great opportunity to meet area residents and industry partners, but it also provided me the chance to learn more about the unique needs of our rural and urban communities.

The conversations were engaging and informative. We collected feedback from each of the meetings that will be integrated into NWTC’s next strategic plan. We consistently heard participants report NWTC as a vital community partner in their region. There were several themes that emerged as opportunities in our region.

NWTC and K12 Pipeline. Every community expressed appreciation for the pathways that exist for high school students to earn college credits at NWTC. There continues to be a desire to find innovative ways to increase access to dual enrollment and increase the number of students who enroll at NWTC after high school graduation. We have committed to working with our K12 districts to find innovative ways to bridge high school and college.

Workforce Demand. Employers and industry partners consistently cited a shortage of skilled workers as an ongoing challenge. This shortage is compounded in rural regions, where attracting and retaining employees is harder than ever. Community members worry about not filling healthcare jobs, K12 teaching positions, and skilled trade jobs at local employers. NWTC is seen as a partner who can help close the gap between education and employment.

Student Needs. Helping students access NWTC at times means navigating complex community issues like access to licensed childcare providers, transportation, mental health support, and housing. There are other hidden barriers like confidence that must be addressed for students to find academic success. Many conversations explored opportunities to work with community-based organizations in new ways to remove barriers for students and ensure students will be successful at NWTC.

Over the coming months, NWTC will be developing its new strategic plan. The Community Conversations have identified new opportunities to ensure NWTC is responding to the needs of students and community partners.