Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – February 21, 2022

Hi. 😊

Our students report they know we care when we are willing to help them be successful.  And, in fact, excellence in teaching and learning is really about finding ways for people to be successful.  We do that exceptionally well at Southwest Tech!  Here’s a story about several people who cared a great deal and our students will no doubt benefit from their expertise and efforts.

We recently welcomed two refugee families from Afghanistan into southwest Wisconsin.  What an amazing leap of faith for these people and a tremendous opportunity for us to lead by example in welcoming them to our neighborhoods.  Both families have shared their great desire to learn better English so they can advance their careers through education – a perfect fit with what we do best.  Terry Temperly (Adult Basic Education Instructor), Julie Pluemer (Pre-college programs), and Betsy Tollefson (Communications Instructor) stepped up to help our newest community members in a big way this week.  Terry hosted an open house at the Platteville Outreach Center and provided a welcome with information about college programming.  With only a few days of notice, Julie and Betsy created a custom English class for the refugee families.  Betsy, Terry, and Julie demonstrated how much they care by going above and beyond to help students be successful!

There will be future opportunities to help more refugees or others new to our community with access to education and employment.  In the meantime, if you are aware of other faculty or staff who make unique and special efforts to help students, please share those stories with me.  I use the examples with donors, share with other faculty and staff to build community, and feel inspired to keep putting students first in our decisions and actions.

An update from around the college:

  1. Covid:
    1. Previous communications have addressed our updates to protocol – please reference those emails for specific details or see our website for more information.  I extend my gratitude and appreciation to the Covid Ops Team who continually work through the data, explore options, and make recommendations on how to proceed.  Current team members, all deserving a huge SHOUT OUT, include: Brian Kitelinger, Connie Haberkorn, Cynde Larsen, Heather Fifrick, Holly Clendenen, Kris Wubben, Nicole Nelson, Robin Hamel, and Gin Reynolds.  They have done a fantastic job and I commend them for their service.
  2. Enrollment and Budget:
    1. We are currently down about .5% in FTE for the year.  You can see the details in the document emailed to staff.  The second spreadsheet outlines our overall FTE trends over time.  I will try and provide our full time employee counts for the same time period in a future update.  We face a complex budget this year.  We are committed to investments in new programming to meet emerging trends, improved services to appeal to broader audiences, and savings from efficiency measures.  It will be important to continue to adapt and evolve in order to thrive as a college.
  3. Hybrid Work – Work on Site – Work Remotely
    1. We continue to discuss the many options and best approaches to getting our work done.  As you all know, our efforts are more than simply a job.  We are here to serve students and help them be successful.  We have learned a lot about how work can be completed because of the pandemic.  There is not necessarily a right answer but we would be mistaken to not do anything…and I do believe we can find what is best for us.  We are currently exploring the possibilities for how we can best serve students.  We know we cannot all go remote all of the time.  We know we cannot all be in-person all of the time.  We know different jobs have different options.  We also acknowledge different people have unique preferences.  This article outlines the Five C’s of Hybrid Work which should be considered and include:
      1. Communication
      2. Coordination
      3. Connection
      4. Creativity
      5. Culture
    2. You can expect we will include conversations in future Coaching Sessions, survey questions, listening sessions, and discussions in the various councils as we explore the ideal environment.  Here are a few (one, two, three) large studies to consider broader trends.  I am open to ideas and possibilities as we move forward.  I hope we can embrace the opportunity to exemplify our values as we engage in crafting our culture in a meaningful way.
  1. Program Highlight: Direct Entry Midwife
    1. We have the only publicly accredited associate degree for Direct Entry Midwife in the country.  Many of our students are from culturally diverse backgrounds.  Midwifery actually has roots in our country dating back to the foundation of our nation.  Black slaves rarely had access to medical care and Black midwives served each other whenever possible.  The Exec Team will be reading a series of articles to learn more about the origins of midwifery and the role midwives play in Black, Latinx, Amish, and other minority populations.  We will share those articles for those interested.
    2. Many of the students in our midwifery program will be on campus for skills testing this semester.  We are excited to host them on campus and in our communities.  Hopefully we take this opportunity to help them feel welcome so they can have a great experience while here.  Stay tuned for opportunities to support them during their time on campus.  Midwives certainly deliver what is most important and I hope they will enjoy their time while here.
  2. Kudos to…
    1. Todd Kasper!  Joe Randall, Electrical Power Distribution Instructor, thanks Todd for joining the team last fall.  Todd helps students keep safety first so they can learn better.  Todd, a Southwest Tech grad and former police officer, is a happy and kind person…we are fortunate to have him at the college!
    2. Maggie May and Robin Dickman!  Chris Bowers, Disability and Support Services, praised Maggie and Robin for their efforts to help a deaf student have the best learning environment possible.  Impressive!
    3. Matt Nation!  Anne Otto, Communications Instructor, had a dead battery and Matt saved the day!  Matt, thank you for helping Anne and for all you do to keep campus safe and clean.  Well done!

In closing, I hope you and your loved ones are doing well.  Please take care of your families and friends.  It is important to find quality time away from work.  Please enjoy time with those you care about and do something you’ve always wanted to try.  It might be as simple as playing a favorite board game (my daughters’ current favorite!) after dinner or planning a dream vacation for later this summer (one place we plan to visit this summer as a family).  And I’m always curious and interested to hear what works best for you to relax and recharge. 😊

As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, feedback, or if there is something I can do for you.

Take care,


Posted in COVID-19, Update