News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kim Schmelz, External Relations & Alumni Development
Phone: 608.822.2379
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date: May 25, 2017

Philanthropists, Alumni and Retirees Recognized at Southwest Tech Foundation Recognition Event

Fennimore -

Philanthropists, Alumni and Retirees Recognized at Southwest Tech Foundation Recognition Event

Fennimore, WI- Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Foundation recognized seven individuals and one organization that have made significant impacts in the college’s 50-year history at the Foundation’s Donor Appreciation and Alumni and Retiree Awards program on Friday, May 19 on the Southwest Tech campus.

The Foundation has recognized 30 individual and businesses as outstanding philanthropists to the organization since 1995 but this was the inaugural year for Distinguished Alumni and Retiree Achievement awards. Those recognized with the Philanthropy Award included Huntington National Bank and Shyrle Sedgwick. Recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award were Kevin Raisbeck, Terri Slapak-Fugate, and Gerald Ward. Honorees of the Retiree Achievement Award were Lowell Ahrens, Mary Davis and Carol Needham.

Huntington National Bank, and its preceding banks First Merit Bank and Citizens Bancorp, have supported the Southwest Tech Foundation annually since 2001.  The bank’s generous donations, totaling more than $70,000, have supported the Charger Annual Fund, A Day for Southwest Tech, two student emergency grant funds – Dreamkeepers and the Charger Dream Fund, as well as the newly created Southwest Tech Community Scholarship program.  Richard Cushman received the award on behalf of Huntington National Bank.

Shyrle Sedgwick, of Platteville, founded the Rick Manuell Memorial Lineman Awards for Southwest Tech students in the electrical power distribution program.  The Rick Manuell Memorial Lineman Award is in memory of Shyrle’s son Rick.  Rick was a 1965 graduate of Platteville High School and was employed as a Lineman Supervisor for Commonwealth Edison Electric Power Company of Illinois at the time of his death.  An endowment was established to support the Rick Manuell Memorial Lineman Award in perpetuity. Holly Clendenen, Foundation Executive Director, met with the Manuell family recently and stated, “During our conversation I could tell how important it is for the family to keep Rick’s memory alive and to share Rick’s stories and passion for the industry with current students and future lineman.  I am grateful Southwest Tech is part of their legacy.”

Kevin Raisbeck, a Cassville native and current Lancaster resident, is a 1996 graduate of Southwest Tech with his Associates degree in Agri-Business/Science Technology. Raisbeck was named the President and CEO of American Bank and Trust in 2016 and manages all aspects of banking for the bank, located in Grant County. Raisbeck’s involvement in the community is extensive and includes serving on the Lancaster Community Fund board and the PAIDC Board of Directors. On campus, Raisbeck serves on the Agri-Business advisory committee, the Southwest Tech Foundation board and the Southwest Tech Real Estate Foundation.  In his acceptance speech, Raisbeck stated,  “I am a proud graduate of Southwest Tech and owe a great deal of my success to the college and especially the instructors.”

Terri Slapak-Fugate resides in Platteville and is a 1997 graduate of the Nursing Associate degree program. She is the Director of Emergency and Urgent Care Services, the Trauma Coordinator and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) for Southwest Health in Platteville. Slapak-Fugate is responsible for the oversight and leadership of all activities and services related to care in the Emergency and Urgent Care area. Slapak-Fugate work with SANE training has made a large impact, earning her the 2015 Voices of Courage Award from WI Coalition against Sexual Assault (WCASA) as well as the 2015 Rural Health Ambassador from Rural Wisconsin Health Coop. Slapak-Fugate provides internships annually for nursing students in the Emergency Room and Urgent Care at Southwest Health and is active with the Family Advocates board.

Jerry Ward, a Stueben native and resident of Reedsburg, is a 1974 graduate of the Accounting Associate degree program and is the Vice President of Operations for Seats Incorporated in Reedsburg, WI. Ward’s involvement in the community is extensive and includes serving as a founding member of the group that formed Southwest Partners in Richland Center and worked closely with the college to integrate classes at Southwest Tech within the Youth Apprenticeship Program. He also currently serves as a member of the Southwest Tech Supply Chain Management advisory committee.

Raisbeck, Slapak-Fugate and Ward served as commencement speakers during Southwest Tech’s graduation ceremonies.

The Retiree Achievement Award was established to recognize retired faculty and staff that have made significant contributions to the College through exemplary service in any capacity, whether in a teaching, administrative or support staff role and exemplified the values of the college in their time on campus and as a retiree.

Lowell Ahrens, a native and current resident of Prairie du Chien, started at Southwest Tech as a Young and Adult Farmer instructor in 1968, just as the college was getting started. He served in that role until 1980 when he transitioned to Ag Coordinator. In 1987 he started teaching Dairy Herd Management, the position he retired from in June of 2000. Outside of Southwest Tech, Ahrens belonged to the Wisconsin Army National Guard for 32 years. He trained in Germany and in Panama twice and achieved rank of First Sergeant. He was also a member of the State High Power Rifle and Pistol Team for many years. Lowell is still active in the United Methodist Church, the Masonic Lodge, the Shriners and Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. Lowell is a two-time graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree.

Mary Davis, a resident of Fennimore, started her career at Southwest Tech in February 1972. She was recruited by Borgne McClelland to split a new full-time position as a teacher at the college. In 1977, Mary became a full-time employee as the Academic Support area continued to expand. She fondly remembers all the fun the staff had during her years at the college and how much the opportunity to help students learn meant to her. Davis’s husband,  Gary, was hired part-time as an Adult Basic Education teacher, which later led to his being in charge of the Testing Center and finally as the program counselor for Health Services. Davis established an endowed scholarship, the Gary and Mary Davis Scholarship to provide support for Southwest Tech students.

Carol Needham, a native and current resident of Fennimore, started her career in teaching at Southwest Tech in the fall of 1978, but her strong ties to the college go back to the beginning of the college. Needham’s mother, Dorothy Hofstetter was the first Nursing Assistant instructor for Southwest Tech. Needham was hired by Maud Gilbert to teach Practical Nursing. She then worked with Rita Lease and Kathy Selleck-Lehman to develop the curriculum for the Nursing Associate degree program. After finishing her teaching career, Needham continued to share her passion for education by establishing a scholarship in her mother’s name as well as tutor nursing students until 2013.

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