As we’ve been working with our Board to consider the possibility of a major capital referendum to support building expansions at the College, I couldn’t help but think back to the one other time in our history that we have asked our community for such an investment via public referendum. That year of consideration was 1997 and we went to referendum in April of 1998. It’s always easier to look at things in hind sight rather than to imagine what will be or the needs we need to be prepared to address over the course of the next decade or so.
My thoughts went to…“where would Fox Valley Technical College be today had we not had the community support we sought via referendum in 1998?” Then, I think about the incredible surge of enrollment we’ve experienced over the last 3-4 years and would we have been positioned to serve all those individuals without the facilities we have today. The answer is simple…no. The referendum funding of 1997 allowed us to create almost all of the JJ Keller Transportation Center that exists today, completely update the Agriculture Center, build most of what we see today in the Graphic Arts and Printing Technologies Center, completely retrofit and provide the space now dedicated to manufacturing-related programming and apprenticeship training, create the Criminal Justice facility, establish manufacturing and construction space at the SJ Spanbauer Center in Oshkosh, and completely refurbish the Oshkosh Riverside Campus. I’ve probably even missed a few things here. All of these areas have flourished in support of community needs ever since—through the individual people served as well as through tremendous industry partnerships.
We’ve certainly done other, smaller projects along the way to address needs, but nothing of the magnitude we need to address at this time. We are in a similar situation as 1997, although the economic and political environment wasn’t nearly as challenging. This is certainly a pivotal point in our history as we consider the future and the investment needed to make that future one of continued service and support to individuals and employers in this region.
We’ve worked hard to get staff, community partner, and public constituent input to date and that process will continue. In a few weeks, our community will have another opportunity to weigh in on the plans under consideration via two public hearings. We would welcome your participation in one of these hearings on December 13 or 14. More details on the facilities plan and these hearings can be found on the following website: www.fvtc.edu/facilitiesplan.
It’s an important time and topic for our community and the students and employers we serve. I invite you to be an active player in this historic time as we begin our next century of service here in the Fox Valley.