Global Connections

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Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with a group of visiting students and faculty from Argentina.  The group is engaged in a grant-funded program called 100,000 Strong in the Americas and consists of student entrepreneurs.  Also in our discussion and this program were FVTC students from a variety of programs interested in entrepreneurship.  These students and several of our staff will travel to Argentina for this program’s exchange experience in the coming months.

I always enjoy meeting and talking with visitors to FVTC from around the globe where we can share perspectives and explore topics from such an expanded view.  These young guests were just terrific – so eager to learn, engage, and experience all they could as part of this international learning opportunity.  And what an incredible experience for our own students!

Having met and interacted with thousands of international students and visitors over many years, I can certainly attest to the fact that we have far more in common with others in the world than differences.

Building on a Great Foundation

FVTC - CU Articulation 2Last week it was a pleasure to host a little signing ceremony at our S.J. Spanbauer Center in Oshkosh to celebrate a new 2 + 2 program partnership with Concordia University Wisconsin.  By 2 + 2 program, I’m referring to the combination of a 2-year associate in applied science (AAS) degree paired with 2 years of baccalaureate studies resulting in a bachelor of science (BS) degree.

In this case, the foundation for this new educational opportunity is our AAS degree program in Construction Management Technology.  Graduates from this very successful program will be able to transfer seamlessly into Concordia University’s newly developed bachelor’s degree in Construction and Trades Management.  And if an appropriate size cohort of students comes together, Concordia is positioned to offer their coursework right at the Spanbauer facility where the FVTC graduates completed their AAS degree.  What a great opportunity for those who wish to continue on to the bachelor’s level and for former graduates working in the area who may also take that next step.

The construction industry is in great need of skilled tradespeople in all areas including electrical, plumbing, framing, sheetmetal, etc., as well as project leaders, estimators, and construction managers.  Having educational programming at all levels available locally will go a long way in supporting the burgeoning needs of this industry.  We’re very pleased to partner with Concordia University in expanding these offerings.

If you know of anyone – a young person exploring career options, adults who want to enhance their skills, or an adult who is considering a career change, we have an upcoming opportunity to explore a wide range of trades and occupations in the construction industry – a Construction Trades Expo taking place on April 11th at the Appleton Campus.  Stop by to check this out!

 

A Degree Closer to Home

On Monday I had a chance to visit with our staff at the Clintonville Regional Center.  That group of staff has led the way on a project of the last year or so to identify all of the College’s degree programs that could be undertaken at that location through a combination of in-person or online courses, making access to our degree programs as convenient as possible for the residents of the Clintonville area.  In that region as of today, 13 programs can be fully completed without leaving the community.

Their work has paved the way for this type of analysis and development at each of our regional locations – in addition to Clintonville, it has expanded to Chilton, Waupaca, Wautoma, and to Oshkosh.  Not only have staff begun to promote these available options to students and the respective communities, but our website has also been enhanced to include a location search function to include these degree completion options on the “Explore All Programs” page.

With essentially full employment, today’s working adults have little time to spare.  Making higher education opportunities as convenient, accessible, affordable, and doable while working full time is just essential.  My hope is these “close to home” options for many people in our District communities will be helpful to their pursuit of continuing education.  If you know of anyone who could benefit from a new or enhanced career direction, please let us know – we’d love to help open that world of possibilities!

 

Entrepreneurs – An Economic Force

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This is National Entrepreneurship Week, an annual designation that was congressionally chartered in 2006.  At that time, our congressional leaders recognized entrepreneurs as a key source of economic innovation throughout the history of our nation.  I certainly tip my hat to all of the entrepreneurs and small business owners across our region for all that they bring to the vitality of our communities!

I’m also very pleased to serve as the Board Chair for the National Association of Community Colleges for Entrepreneurship (NACCE – https://www.nacce.com).  Our member colleges all across North America are very committed to supporting both students and community members in exploring, launching or growing businesses in the communities we serve.  And as important, we are deeply engaged in continuing to develop as entrepreneurial colleges to maximize the programs, services and support we can offer our constituents.

Here’s to the entrepreneurial spirit in both business and education!  Is there an outstanding local entrepreneur you’d like to acknowledge this week?  Would love to hear about them.

Exploring Career Opportunities

The college held its annual open house on October 2, and once again the event welcomed nearly 3,000 visitors at all of our campus locations in the area.  I always look forward to this fall event to witness the connections our faculty and staff make with prospective students and their families to not only build promising futures, but also lifelong relationships.

The energy at this year’s open house was electric. Our strong economy has ushered in a great opportunity for both career starters and career changers to find a rewarding career path, while we continue to work toward addressing the critical workforce needs of our region’s employers.   

Technical skills and technical careers are clearly the focus of this growing economy and it was terrific to see so many people exploring these tremendous career opportunities.    

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Visitors to our annual open house always create an electric atmosphere. 

Wautoma — a New College Town?

 

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Wautoma Regional Center
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… L to R: Tom Rheinheimer (Wautoma Area School District Superintendent), Tony Gonzalez (Board Chair), Jackie Weber (Foundation Board Chair), Chris Brown (Wautoma Regional Manager)

On September 18 a large gathering of community leaders, school district representatives, elected officials, and other partners joined us for a special dedication ceremony of the college’s new Wautoma Regional Center. This welcoming facility located adjacent to Wautoma High School brings fresh technologies and innovative learning spaces to a part of our district that we’ve been serving for 40 years; however, facility upgrades and expanded services to meet regional workforce demands and employment opportunities were needed.

A new industrial bay and health care lab, along with an expanded welding lab, were big hits by those who toured the center before and after a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony. The faculty and staff were literally gleaming when showing off their regional center, which also houses the Wautoma Area School District administrative office and a regional office for the Fox Valley Workforce Development Center.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the support for this project by the FVTC Foundation.  Fully half of the funding to make this center a reality came from the Foundation.  It was great to see Foundation Board Chair, Jackie Weber, side by side and cutting the ribbon with the Chair of our Board of Trustees, Tony Gonzalez.

What really struck me during the dedication ceremony of the 12,000-sqaure-foot facility was observing the enthusiasm on the faces of our speakers and those in attendance. It felt like a college town had emerged from the commitment of the people in attendance—one that is poised to support and complement the unique educational needs of the greater Waushara County area.

Celebrating 25 Years of Family Literacy

The Appleton Even Start Family Literacy program celebrated a remarkable milestone last week – 25 years of serving parents and children through a terrific partnership between the Appleton Area School District and Fox Valley Technical College.  Adults come to this program to learn English and earn a high school credential, as well as employability skills.  Parenting skills are also a significant component of this program.

At the same time, the young children of these adults ranging in ages from 6 months to 5 years are served at the center through early childhood education experiences.  Having parents and their children participating in interactive literacy activities has proven to be very effective in supporting the growth and development of both child and adult together.  Today this program is located at the Community Early Learning Center in Appleton.

Parents and children are also exposed to many aspects of the community including field trips to the Appleton Public Library, the Building for Kids, local farms, and others.  Special events such as Octoberfest and the Appleton Christmas Parade, as well as families participating in swimming lessons, are also among the many experiences involved in this program.

Hundreds of families in our community have been served by the Even Start program over the years, having been strengthened by their experiences, advancing their education as parents and adults, and ensuring that children get off to the best start possible very early in life.  Congratulations to our partners at the Appleton Area School District and to our FVTC faculty and staff who have been so dedicated to the success of participants over the years.  It’s always a joy to visit this program!

Program instructor, Susan Hunsader, reflecting on this milestone shared the following: “Our community is blessed to have a program that educates the whole family and allows for parents to not only gain an education for themselves, but to learn that they are their child’s first and most important teacher.” 

I couldn’t agree more!