Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – Sept 5, 2020

Dear College Community,

The link for the college-wide update on Friday, September 4 via video conference will be active on Yammer and in the Hub.  Here are a few updates to supplement the updates on the video conference:

  1. Budget:  Layla Merrifield, Executive Director of the District Boards Association, reports the following: “The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released their memorandum detailing that collections totaled $17,532.2 million, up 1.1% compared to the prior year, and $211.8 million over the 2019 Act 9 estimate. Compared to the prior projections released in January 2020, actual collections were $112.6 million, or 0.6%, below that revised estimate. Still, this keeps the current biennial budget on track, which is much better news than we initially feared with the economic shutdown in spring. Final general fund tax collections and departmental expenditures for 2019-20 will be available October 15th, when the state’s Annual Fiscal Report is released by the Department of Administration. It remains to be seen how the economy will react as Covid continues to disrupt certain industries this fall. However, based on this latest news, Wisconsin will not require a budget repair bill in the near term.”  Please continue to know we are taking the long-term view and will continue our due diligence with reducing expenses, boosting enrollments, and finding new profits…not easy, but I believe we are slightly ahead of the curve right now.  For a video of Layla outlining more details, please see here.  Stay tuned for exciting opportunities to raise funds for strengthen our ability to serve students during difficult financial times. 🙂
  2. Legislative Priorities: Attached is a white paper we are working on for a legislative request for expanding authority to offer the transfer degree from 5 technical colleges to all 16.  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  Special thanks to Lori Weyers, President at Northcentral Technical College, for her leadership in authoring the report.  On a personal note, Lori has been a valued mentor to me personally and we all benefit from her good work.
  3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
    1. The Wisconsin Technical College System is hosting a series of professional development seminars in October.  Please see the attached document for session details.
    2. Kris Wubben and Chantel Hampton will represent Southwest Tech in a series of dialogs related to our Commitment to Progress.  Morna Foy, WTCS President, said, “The outcomes of the Governor’s efforts to pass policing reform legislation and Speaker Vos’s special taskforce on police policy and standards will directly affect our college programming.”  The scheduled brainstorming sessions represent an opportunity for people in law enforcement training programs and representatives from college diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to address the opportunities for progress in a collaborative effort.  I have confidence Kris and Chantel will do an excellent job representing our college in these discussions.
    3. We will begin screening candidates for the Multi-Cultural Student Success Coach soon.  This is an exciting opportunity to provide direct support and services for our students.
    4. The Board Retreat on October 29 will include substantial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programming and planning featuring our very own students, faculty, staff, and community.  Stay tuned for the agenda which will include our performance as a college related to student learning and outline the policy and planning goals we anticipate addressing.  I am grateful for the leadership of our Board and their sincere love for our college family.
    5. Our new Student Learning College Health Indicator will include the following: Closing achievement gaps for special populations (defined in our Outcomes Based Funding – statutory criteria #9) on gpa, semester-to-semester retention, graduation, job placement, and wages.  Specific policy and planning conversations begin in October and will proceed throughout the budget process.
  4. Respect Pledge:During the coming week we will promote the Respect Pledge more actively.  We all have choices to make regarding the groups and causes we support.  As we engage in the diverse initiatives, may we exemplify our values.  We encourage each of you to review our college’s Respect Pledge and find ways to do your part in the following commitments:
    1. Create: a respectful and welcoming environment for all at Southwest Tech.
    2. Respect: other’s values and ideas even they are different from my own.
    3. Recognize: commonalities and shared experiences.
    4. Defend: the dignity and humanity of all members of our college community.
  5. Kudos to:
    1. Chris Bowers, Heather Swatek, and faculty instructors across the college for strengthening their professional relationships in order to advance the quality of disability services provided to students.  Great effort and impressive impact on students!
    2. Vanessa Caldari for her leadership in building a phenomenal sense of community by bringing people together with openness and benefitting students in the midwifery program.  Nice job!
    3. Stephanie Brown for going above and beyond the call of duty to help a student in a very difficult situation.  Stephanie responds to students at all hours of the night and does her best work when students are in their worst situations.  Thanks!
    4. Marleine Klein for the great work she does teaching Adult Basic Education students in Boscobel.  She has a strong and loyal following and will soon move into new and improved space.  We are grateful for her years of service to students. Kudos!
    5. Cindy Di Salvo and Barb McCormick for their adaptability in working with students to continue providing learning opportunities during the pandemic.  They have made many innovative adjustments which students need in order to master the program competencies.  Great work!

Please stay tuned for updates from our Councils, Project Teams, and Work Groups during the College Forums on September 23.  We will hear about Project Rise (Enterprise Resource Planning) and other faculty and staff lead projects.  As we work together during trying times, please remember the Speed of Trust principle in the Five Waves of Influence.  We “make our own change” by trusting ourselves which occurs when we achieve personal goals, align our intentions with noble values, and grant others the benefit of the doubt through extending Smart Trust to them.  Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have.  Do what you can.”.  Wise words, indeed.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


Jason S. Wood, Ph.D.
President of Southwest Tech

Posted in COVID-19, Update