Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – August 30, 2021


Labor Day will be here in just over a week.  It is a holiday to celebrate the prosperity we enjoy as a country due to the work we do as a people.  I want to take a moment and thank each of you for your efforts to help our students.  Your work matters.  Each of you contributes to our success as a college.  At last night’s Board meeting, the following was shared:

  • Board Member Chuck Bolstad indicated his deep appreciation for the people who take care of the little details that make a big difference.
  • Board Member Jeanne Jordie said we have lots of people who work together in teams to solve problems and find solutions to help students.
  • Board Member Tracy Fillback noted she appreciates the people who work at the college because of how much they care about each other.

On behalf of the Board who cares very much about you, I want you to know your efforts are deeply appreciated.  Please plan to enjoy the Labor Day weekend (not this weekend 😊) doing something you enjoy with someone you love.

  1. COVID/Delta
    1. Vaccination Incentive: The state of Wisconsin is offering $100 to anyone who gets the first COVID-19 vaccination between August 20th and September 6th. There is a simple, quick form to complete and the state will mail you a $100 bankcard.
    2. COVID-19 Dashboard:  In our effort to be transparent regarding the impact of the current pandemic, Southwest Tech has set up this dashboard which displays COVID-19 cases and actions taken. The dashboard is updated daily at 4:00 p.m. and includes data for both students and employees.  If you have questions, you are welcome to ask your supervisor, Dan Imhoff, Krista Weber, or me and we’ll do our best to respond.
    3. Child Care Center Closure:  Monday, Aug. 23 Southwest Tech was notified that a second person at the Child Care Center tested positive for COVID-19. The center will remain closed through September 6 and reopen on September 7, allowing all center employees and students time to quarantine.  The COVID Operations Team did do a fantastic job of notifying the people directly impacted by the closure.  I regret I didn’t take the opportunity to share with the entire campus the specific actions in a more timely manner.  I could have used that chance to make you aware of the Dashboard as well.  My apologies to those of you who were unaware when approached by students.
    4. A separate document will be shared in the near future outlining some of the possible preventative measures being researched by medical professionals and our legal team.  These options will help us be prepared if the pandemic worsens and ways to safely reopen when it subsides.  We invite feedback and suggestions.  As a matter of integrity, I offer my willingness to respectfully consider multiple perspectives, learn of better ideas to implement, and pursue different options when appropriate.
  2. Tornado Warning Response:
    1. Things that went well:  Overall, I was very pleased with the response of our campus.  Thank you to everyone who made the best out of the situation.  Many faculty and staff were holding doors open to shelters to usher students and coworkers. Each building had assembled quickly and professionally.  People visited pleasantly while awaiting further instructions.  The majority of alerts and alarms functioned according to plan.
    2. Areas to improve: We learned that not all of our recently renovated areas had the shelters identified with appropriate signage. It was difficult to hear the announcements in Building 600.  We are following up with one person who indicated they would not follow the protocol.  These will all be remedied.
    3. Special shout out to our IT folks!  The increased wireless access projects over the past several years made it possible to communicate with friends or family at home while we were sheltered in place.  If you were in a spot that didn’t have access, please let Heath Ahnen know so it can be addressed.  We want you to be able to reach out to the people you love during these types of situations and/or contact emergency response personnel.
    4. Thank you to our frontline folks who respond in these emergencies…Nicole Nelson, Josh Bedward, and Brian Kitelinger each did a fantastic job and I know several other people from around the college were particularly helpful as well. 😊
  3. Project Rise:
    1. Please remember that from August 21 – August 31 the program application is down. The applications for the Spring 2022 and Fall 2022 academic semesters open on September 1, 2021, at 8:00 a.m. You can view the new application how-to video here.  Thank you to Dan Wackershauser and Chris Bowers for a great video.
    2. Many people continue to carry heavy loads associated with this project.  Thank you to the fiscal services team for all they are doing with their Finance module live.  Their lessons learned are informing future module implementations.
  4. Job Recruitments
    1. Knox Learning Center:  We anticipate filling the upcoming manager vacancy with an internal appointment.
    2. Grant Writing:  Following two retirements this year, we expect to fill one position with a broad recruitment for director-level responsibilities and partner with an outside entity for additional capacity, specialized resources, and expanded expertise.
    3. Business/Accounting and Fiscal Services: We plan to post a recruitment for a faculty/staff hybrid position to replace the previous Business and Industry duties which will shift to Dennis Cooley.  This will create an opportunity for a stronger connection between the academic elements of the program and the real-life, hands-on learning available in the fiscal operations of the college.  Initial priorities will include internal collaboration between academics, the bookstore, and food services.  This is similar to the successful model currently used in graphic web design and marketing (Erin Kerkoff) as well as in College Effectiveness and Business/Data Analytics (Sasha Annan).
    4. Bookstore: A recent vacancy has been replaced with a Limited Term Employment (LTE) position and will be reviewed pending the hybrid business faculty hire.
    5. Surgical Tech:  This new program is scheduled to start in the fall of 2022.  We will advertise now so the new instructor can teach a partial load starting in January and have time for new program development, industry partnerships cultivation, and student recruitment.
    6. Project Rise:  A recent vacancy that was scheduled to end in February will be replaced with a new position extended through all of 2022.  We anticipate the extended position and additional support will help our folks in student services as well as serve our academic administrative assistants.  Admissions/Records and Academic Assistants are doing excellent work as always!
  5. Back in March, we made the decision to begin charging out of state tuition for distance education courses for Cancer Information Management and Driver & Safety Education program students beginning 2022/23 like we have been doing for Midwifery program students.  This decision was made after a review of our online programs and a comparison with other Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
  6. Upcoming Events
    1. September 6 – College Closed: Please enjoy an extended weekend with your family or friends. 😊
    2. October 13 – College Open House:  This is a key new student recruitment event.  Please stay tuned for ways to help.
    3. October 27 – Fall Job Fair:  We do an excellent job of helping our students find good jobs.  Please consider ways you can encourage job-seekers to participate.
  7. January In-Service Message: Family and Furry Friends!
    1. As I begin to prepare for January’s in-service, I have a special ask for the traditional show-and-tell pictures.  Many of our faculty and staff have welcomed new babies or grandbabies into their families.   There are many other life events you celebrate with children, siblings, parents, or other extended family.  More people are getting pets recently as well.  If you have a happy picture (or short video clip) of your new baby, a celebration with other members of your family, or are proud of your new pet…please send it my way!  Please include a release and permission so I can share with the college.  A brief summary is also greatly appreciated. 😊
  8. Kudos to…
    1. Beth Cummins!  Beth has worked diligently over the past five years to bring quality to our flexible learning options.  Beth is also our internal coordinator for the Online Learning 101 orientation which serves all students who are new to online learning and typically over 500 students a year.  Her newest adventure is chairing the College’s hyflex project team implementing over ten hyflex courses this fall semester. While completing her many duties at Southwest Tech, Beth earned her Bachelor’s degree this summer.  Congrats, Beth!
    2. Ken Bartz!  Ken is leading the new paramedics program in partnership with Lakeshore Technical College.  From finding a suitable classroom space in Dodgeville, recruiting students, helping with the delivery of classes, and working with industry partners, Ken has been busy!  We are excited for his success as this program will help local employers find good workers.  Nice work, Ken!
    3. Kris Schoville!  On top of teaching a full load, being a key lead for a non-profit service animal organization (OccuPaws), and serving on various college committees…Kris is the newest member of the Foundation Board of Directors!  Kris is excited to bring her philanthropic skills and natural charitable tendencies to the team to help raise money for students.  Thank you, Kris, for all you do to help other people!

In conclusion, the Labor Day holiday is also significant as an element of diversity and inclusion.  From the US Department of Labor website: “The Labor Department was the first Cabinet agency led by a woman: Frances Perkins. Six women have held the title since then, giving us the record not just for the first, but for the most women secretaries as well. Many of the women who followed in Perkins’ footsteps have blazed their own trails. Elaine Chao and Hilda Solis were the first Asian American and Hispanic women in the Cabinet, respectively. Alexis Herman was the first African American to serve as secretary of labor. And Elizabeth Dole was the first woman to lead two different departments for two different presidents.”

The work we do at the college is important and at the same time I am grateful everyone gets a break for Labor Day.  As I remind people at our graduation ceremonies of a comment made when I completed college: the most important work you do will be within the walls of your own home.  I will reiterate my hope you are able to enjoy the upcoming extended weekend doing something you enjoy with someone you love.

If there is something I can do to help you, please let me know.  Questions, comments, ideas, suggestions: call/text, email, or setup a time to meet (contact information in the email sent to staff).

Take care,


Posted in COVID-19, General, Update