Connecting with Prospective Students

What a joy it was to attend FVTC’s annual Community Open House event this week.  The energy was just terrific and I enjoyed talking with prospective students, sometimes with their parents, with our faculty and staff, a few graduates, and several of our current students who were assisting tremendously with this event.  It’s no small undertaking to welcome over 2,500 guests to not only the Appleton campus, but simultaneously to our campus locations across five counties.  As always, many wonderful people helped to make this a great event.

It was interesting talking with high school seniors who knew exactly what they were going to pursue and getting some details about enrolling next fall, as well as some who were attending to explore a wide range of career options.  Some parents came with a list of prepared questions; others were as interested in pursuing new career options themselves as they were their son or daughter’s post-secondary plans.

With so many great career opportunities available in our region in the technical fields, it was gratifying to see the keen interest by both students and parents in jobs available, our connections with employers, graduate placement rates, and future growth opportunities.  In fact, many companies in our area are counting on them pursuing technical fields like automated manufacturing, machining, diesel technology, IT, administrative professional, nursing, and many more.

While we can’t hold an open house event like this every month, our doors are always open to both individuals and employers who are looking to improve their futures with skill sets that are in demand.  Do you have ideas about ways we can strengthen our community connections in an effort to connect more people with these opportunities?

Open House photo gallery
Choosing a College

Highlighting Hospitality and Tourism

Our Culinary students create a mouth-watering entree at the event.

Our Culinary students create a mouth-watering entree at the event.

Two weeks ago I, along with our Interim Dean for Service and Hospitality, Kim Olson, attended an event in Sheboygan that focused on the hospitality sector of our state’s economy.  The event, sponsored by the Wisconsin Technical College System, featured savory food items prepared by Culinary Arts students and led by the faculty from Fox Valley Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College and Lakeshore Technical College.  It also featured several speakers who each brought an interesting perspective regarding this industry—Morna Foy, WTCS President; Paul Bartelt, President/CEO of Vollrath Company; Chef Stefano Viglietti, Restauranteur; and Jason Mengel, Championship Director for the PGA of America.
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Dedicated to Students

Guests assemble during the dedication to check out the expanded Library.

Guests assemble during the dedication to check out the expanded Library.

It was such a pleasure this past week to dedicate the new Student Success Center on the Appleton Campus.  Joining us for this brief event were community leaders, students, faculty and staff, elected officials, and members of the Board of Trustees, and the Foundation Board of Directors, all who helped to make this impressive facility a reality.

This is a remarkable two-story facility that has involved both new construction and remodeling of existing space.  For the first time since the early 1970s, we now have opened up the center core of this building and, I believe, have provided our students and community with a warm, welcoming, open, and free-flowing space! Continue reading

What a Train Wreck!

Last week, a visit to the Public Safety Training Center that’s currently under construction represented another first for me!  I happened to be there on the day that three rail car tankers were being moved on site to create one of our outdoor training props—a tanker car derailment.  These tank cars had the capability of transporting several different products such as ammonia and chlorine.  The cars came from Indiana and were formerly owned by the Canadian National Railroad.  We purchased two of them and the third was donated by the Ergman Corporation, a scrap dealership from Lake Bluff, Illinois.

Rail car tanker

A huge Miron crane positions one of the rail cars at our new Public Safety Training Center.

Each of these rail cars is 60 ft. long and weighs 65,000 lbs. empty.  They were each lifted by crane from a rail spur in downtown Appleton and transported by about a 70 ft. trailer bed to the PSTC site at the airport.  When I was visiting, the enormous Miron Construction crane was lifting one of the cars from the truck transport onto the tracks that had been laid for this prop.  It was magnificent to see this thing dangle in midair!  What was truly amazing was to see this tanker right next to our FedEx Boeing 727 aircraft prop.  The tanker car’s circumference actually was larger than the fuselage of that airplane!

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A Powerhouse in Agriculture

As I was working in my landscape this weekend, I was thinking about a state report that I read last week on technical college enrollments by various disciplines.  One fact in all of these numbers really stood out to me.  FVTC serves 25% of the total student enrollment in Agriculture within the 16 colleges of the Wisconsin Technical College System.  I’ve always known we’ve had a strong program, but supporting Wisconsin’s ag industry with one quarter of the WTCS total enrollment is pretty incredible.

Speaking of our ag programs being strong, earlier this summer our faculty and staff in the Agriculture Department were honored by the Wisconsin Association of Agriculture Educators (WAAE) with the 2014 Outstanding Post-Secondary Agriculture Program Award at their state conference.  Congratulations to this great team!  We are very proud of your work and your collective accomplishments.

Members of FVTC's Ag team gathered to receive their state award.

Members of FVTC’s Ag team gathered to receive their state award. Front row L to R: Tim Duel, Tom Yost, Jason Fischer, Sara Maass-Pate, Lynn Jerrett. Back row L to R: Joe Sinkula, Randy Tenpas, Jeremy Hanson, Mike Cattelino, Dale Drees, Nick Schneider, Kevin Rauchholz. Not pictured: Jim Beard, Roxanne Rusch-Olesen, Corey Lee, Jerry Fischer, Nancy Buchholtz.

I look at both quantity and quality when I think about the powerhouse our ag department really represents.  The quality recognition comes in the form of the WAAE award, which was based on our student employment outcomes, the department’s commitment to advanced technology, and the outstanding industry partnerships they’ve formed with companies such as Case IH, Service Motor Company, and others.  The quantity factor comes by serving so many students who are clearly finding value and opportunity through these programs in an industry with significant need for technicians and operators.

Just as my landscape and gardening work never seems to be done, we have much to do to support our agriculture industry!  I can’t think of a stronger team to lead the way.

Success Has A View

I feel like I don’t really leave the office sometimes because I see our college wherever I go.  Most visibly, it’s hard to avoid noticing the college’s name when you see our truck driving students navigate their way around roads and highways in semis and other specialized trucks.

Every time I see our trucks around the community, for starters I remind myself to be patient!  Most recently though, I found myself reflecting on the distinctiveness of this career and how it’s changed with new technologies and better comfort.  On the other hand, one thing that hasn’t changed is the high demand for these skilled drivers.

When thinking about truck driving as a career, it’s easy to focus on the challenges associated with moving big, bulky vehicles across the country on little sleep.  I’ve learned, for example, that perceptions like these, albeit sometimes true, do not represent the big picture when it comes to this important segment of the transportation industry.

Take, for instance, how today’s skilled truck drivers themselves look at the profession.  One of our recent completers of the college’s Truck Driving program, Robin Grapa, touched many of us here when she shared her story in a recent issue of Women in Truckingmagazine.

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Rubbing Elbows with Global Businesses

Workplace training is one area that flies a bit under the radar in higher education, but it is certainly a vital part of what we do at Fox Valley Technical College.

I’m amazed at the different types of businesses that our expert workplace trainers get to rub elbows with on a regular basis.  In fact, I often stop in my tracks and take a step back to ask myself, “Wow, we really do this for that company?”  In particular, I marvel at the number of global businesses, many of which are Fortune 500 ™ companies, that look to Fox Valley Tech to train their employees.
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