CVTC Magazine: April 2021

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BUILDING THE FUTURE 04 | LASTING LEGACY President Bruce Barker leaves CVTC with a record of forward-looking leadership.

08 | FUTUREMAKER CVTC and Market & Johnson share a history of building for the future.

10 | THE NEXT LEVEL Inspired by CVTC, Menomonie High School ramps up its tech ed programs.


A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Hello…and Goodbye, Spring is a wonderful time of year. The annual reawakening from winter’s cold brings the promise of new opportunities and exciting growth. That is particularly true this spring as our nation and economy recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19. Here at CVTC, we are busy finishing another successful year. Class sizes, delivery methods, time of instruction and vital student support services needed to be redesigned and reformatted due to the virus. Despite these unprecedented challenges, our students, faculty and staff worked together to ensure that the current school year was completed on time as scheduled. We are also busy planning for the future. Most employers anticipate that the demand for CVTC graduates will continue to increase. After all, our graduates have mastered the skills needed by our communities to grow and prosper. The passage of the referendum will provide our College with the resources to continue meeting workforce demands. This spring we will be completing the third addition to our Manufacturing Education Center. The new labs will focus on automation, simulation and precision fabrication. It will help our local manufacturers stay in front of their competition and bring more jobs to the region. Construction of our Transportation Education Center will also begin this spring. The new facility will allow us to provide existing programs in a more cost-efficient manner while providing additional space and technology to teach students how to service and maintain the growing number of electric and “smart” vehicles. Our Emergency Services Education Center will also be remodeled and expanded. The new labs will incorporate more simulation, creating more real-life training scenarios. It will provide additional training and testing opportunities for existing and prospective firefighters, as well as a dedicated space for our EMT and Paramedic students. Over the coming year, we will continue to evaluate the River Falls campus to determine programs and offerings to best serve the western part of our district. Our recent purchase of the Moody’s car dealership and the ever-increasing population of that area present multiple opportunities for growth. Community listening sessions as well as advice from local chambers of commerce, economic development corporations and our K-12 partners will help guide us as we optimize our educational offerings and their economic impact. One final note - CVTC is in the process of selecting a new president. Earlier this year, I notified the District Board of my intent to retire in July 2021. Working at CVTC has been a wonderful experience. I have been surrounded by lifelong educators and tireless public servants. I have benefited greatly from their expertise, dedication and determination. Together we faced the worst recession in 60 years, ACT 10 and a pandemic. Through it all, we measured our success by the success of our students. I will always cherish being a member of the CVTC team and what we were able to accomplish.



CHIPPEWA VALLEY TECHNICAL COLLEGE 620 W. Clairemont Ave. Eau Claire, WI 54701-6162 715-833-6200 800-547-CVTC

Accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, Issue Date: Spring 2021. Published biannually. © 2020 Chippewa Valley Technical College. All rights reserved.

Thank you for that opportunity! Best Wishes, Bruce

CVTC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in employment, admissions, programs, or activities. General inquiries regarding the College’s non-discrimination policies may be directed to: Director of Human Resources • Chippewa Valley Technical College • 620 W. Clairemont Ave. Eau Claire, WI 54701 • 715-852-1377 • WI Relay: 711

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE: SUPPORT OPPORTUNITIES Support from the people, businesses and institutions in the area is essentail for CVTC to succeed in its mission to improve the lives of students, enhance communities and meet the workforce needs of the region. Here are some ways you can help.




Last spring, CVTC district communities supported a referendum that will allow the College to expand and enhance learning spaces for students. Work is underway at the Manufacturing Education Center, and the College and its partners broke ground for the Transportation Education Center and Emergency Services Education Center projects this spring.

Providing scholarships for the students at Chippewa Valley Technical College is a critical function of the CVTC Foundation, Inc. CVTC has a variety of scholarships for new and returning students in all programs.

CVTC has begun community conversations in River Falls to assess best use of newly-acquired property there. The CVTC Foundation, Inc., will focus on initiatives to support the acquisition of equipment and other needs for these projects. Naming opportunities will be available for these new spaces.

CVTC looks to the future while continuing to train students through applied education. Supporting renewable energy expansion in related programs and at campuses is an important focus. CVTC is installing a new solar field at the Energy Education Center through a collaborative project with the Couillard Foundation. The CVTC Foundation hopes to provide financial support, expanding this renewable energy effort through the CVTC Power the Future Fund.

This year, CVTC Foundation, Inc., presented more than 400 scholarships for almost $300,000, with 42 new scholarships offered, all through the generosity of Foundation donors. These scholarships allow students to attain their educational goals while not incurring additional debt and by reducing the financial burdens while they are in school.




CVTC’s future also includes providing an environment that supports diversity, equity and inclusion. The Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Access Advancement (IDEAA) Fund will invest in this important work at CVTC.



When Bruce Barker became president of Chippewa Valley Technical College in 2008, he faced the daunting challenge of navigating the College through the worst economic calamity in 60 years. CVTC would play an essential role in economic recovery as an institution that touched all aspects of life in the Chippewa Valley.

Another new facility completed during Barker’s tenure was the L.E. Phillips Fire Safety Center, built in 2014 on the West Campus through a donation by the L.E. Phillips Foundation. The facility’s signature burn room is one of just a handful of such places in the country.

Twelve years later, Barker has announced his retirement from CVTC, effective July 1, 2021, having led the College through the great recession, achieved significant expansions and improvements of physical facilities and programs, strengthened relationships with K-12 school districts, maintained steady and even increased enrollment and set up the institution for the future though passage of a $48.8 million referendum last spring.

ADVANCING ACADEMICS Under Barker’s leadership, the number of programs, degrees and certificates offered at CVTC more than doubled, with the College currently offering 118 programs, 38 certificates and 13 apprenticeships. Barker noted this is largely due to direct alignment with business and industry partners on workforce development needs.


“Being part of the CVTC team has been a wonderful experience and privilege,” Barker said in his announcement. “I will always - BRUCE BARKER be extremely proud and grateful for what we have accomplished. CVTC provides our students with options, hope, direction and the skills and confidence to succeed. We provide our communities with essential workers, experts in every field, entrepreneurs and leaders.”

GETTING THINGS DONE “The economy going down really crystallized a lot of our thoughts on what we were planning,” Barker said, reflecting on his early days as president. Among the problems were insufficient facilities and capacity in some programs. Working with the CVTC Foundation, Inc., which received strong support from local businesses, the Energy Education Center (EEC) was constructed, opening in 2015 as home to CVTC programs in agriculture; electrical power distribution (EPD); horticulture; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); and truck driving. This facility helped lead to creation of a Gas Utility Service and Construction program in 2019. “The ag programs did not have the emphasis they needed,” Barker said. “We got over to the Energy Education Center and established partnerships with Tractor Central (a local John Deere dealership) and Value Implement (a Case IH dealer).” The Agriscience program was divided into Animal Science Management and Agronomy Management to complement the existing Landscape, Plant and Turf Management and Farm Business Production Management programs. Farm Operation, Horticulture Technician, Livestock Technician, Agronomy Technician degrees and certificates in Hemp Production and Landscape Basics were added, along with Beekeeping courses.

Early in Barker’s presidency, CVTC built an addition onto the Manufacturing Education Center to expand the Welding labs.

“Industries came to us and said, ‘we need welders badly, do something,’” Barker recalled. “They said they need people who can work with the big cranes, bridge cranes and jib cranes, and people who can work with different cutting instruments. The extra space allowed us to add the two-year Welding Fabrication program, expanding what had been a one-year program.” A state-of-the-art culinary kitchen was constructed at the Business Education Center (BEC) to accommodate a new Culinary Management program, now in its third year. Business programs also expanded with the creation of programs like Digital Marketing, Professional Communications, Entrepreneurship and Graphic Design and the Business cluster offerings had updated facilities to show them off with the creation of a business-focused area as part of a major remodeling of the second floor of BEC.

K-12 RELATIONS One of the major developments at CVTC in the past decade has been the dramatic expansion of cooperation between CVTC and K-12 school districts. A limited number of area high school students were earning CVTC college credits when Barker took over leadership. Rural schools were losing students to bigger districts under open enrollment because they couldn’t afford to offer the same variety of classes, and some schools were eliminating tech ed classes for cost reasons. “We thought we could supplement what they could offer if we

clipboard-check BRUCE’S BACKGROUND plus

B.A. Degree Ripon College


J.D. Degree

Marquette University School Of Law plus

Assistant City Attorney

Eau Claire plus


Mulchahy And Wheery, S.C. Law Firm plus

Director of Labor Relations

Manitowoc County plus

Vice President of Human Resources

Luther Hospital / Mayo Clinic Health System, Eau Claire plus

Director of Human Resources and Vice President of Operations Chippewa Valley Technical College


New Construction

Energy Education Center L.E. Phillips Fire Safety Center plus


Welding Lab | Manufacturing Education Center Building Addition | Energy Education Center

Casper Conference Center | Business Education Center Culinary Kitchen | Business Education Center LINC Center | Business Education Center plus


NanoRite Center converted to Applied Technology Center plus


River Falls Campus

trophy-alt ACCOMPLISHMENTS plus

Doubled Offerings

118 programs, 38 certificates, and 13 apprenticeships plus

Dramatic Expansion of K-12 Relations


Passage of $48.8 Million Referendum


Maintained Steady Enrollment


Increased Online and MyChoice Offerings 6 APRIL 2021 | CVTC.EDU

could cluster schools together,” Barker said. “Where one high school couldn’t do it, maybe three or four could if they had a partner, and we could be that partner.” CVTC began establishing agreements with K-12 districts to offer dual credit classes, either for high school students coming to CVTC campuses, taking classes online or by offering the classes in the high schools. The effort expanded through the offering of High School Academies in which students took several dual credit classes, leading to an industry-recognized certificate. Most recently, CVTC initiated programs that offered the opportunity for students to earn associate degrees in Business Management at the same time they graduated from high school. “In recent years, CVTC has nearly tripled its high school dual enrollment activity, awarding 21,286 dual credits in 2019-20, a 300 percent increase from five years earlier,” said Dr. Julie Furst-Bowe, vice president of instruction. “In 2019-20, CVTC enrolled 5,262 dual credit students in courses, the third highest enrollment across all Wisconsin technical colleges, despite the institution’s relatively small size.”

ENROLLMENT HOLDS CVTC’s approach to dual credit and high school academies helped the College counteract the trend of falling enrollment in post-secondary education and show modest gains. Barker noted that responding to industry needs, which led to program expansions, is one reason for the growth. But there’s another major factor. “We have open enrollment,” Barker said. “For anybody that wants a college education, the doors are open. We don’t turn anybody away.” Barker explained that this relates to how CVTC responded to the economic crisis. “We had everybody lined up at the door waiting,” he said. “We started doing a lot of assessments on computer skills and math skills for incoming students. We wanted the students who were best prepared in first. But we’re supposed to be open access. We decided to go back to our roots. We eliminated assessment testing two or three years before the rest of the state. We would go to recruitment fairs with other colleges present and explain that you don’t have to take any of these tests. People would follow us to our (recruitment) room.” Instead of assessments, CVTC put in place the support struggling students might need.

REFERENDUM SUPPORT Barker said that he came close to retirement a couple of years ago but acknowledged that to continue moving the institution forward, CVTC would need to offer a referendum to voters to fund the projects that would prepare CVTC for the future. Rather than have a new president try to pitch the objectives to voters, Barker said he thought it would be best if someone familiar to the community was the chief advocate. CVTC proposed a $48.8 million referendum for construction of a new Transportation Education Center, addition and remodeling of the Emergency Services Education Center, an automated fabrication addition to

the Manufacturing Education Center, and property expansion at the River Falls location along with some smaller projects at other campuses. Work on many of the projects is already underway, and even though their impact will be felt under the leadership of a new president, they will be part of Barker’s legacy.

The CVTC Board will greatly

TIME FOR A CHANGE After retirement, Barker said that he looks forward to enjoying more time with family and a post-pandemic Eau Claire. “The great quality of life we enjoy here in the Chippewa Valley is a direct result of the education we provide at CVTC. I am confident that the team at CVTC will deliver on this promise now and into the future," he said.

miss Bruce and the tremendous

difference he makes at CVTC. - Paul Bauer

The referendum passed with an overwhelming 62 percent of the vote in April 2020.

“Bruce has had his steady hand on the rudder of CVTC for twelve years and has steered the College to new heights,” said Kirk Moist, vice president of finance. “Our academic programs, student outcomes, faculty and staff and facilities are all top shelf, and I have witnessed Bruce’s influence.

“The dominant thing about Bruce is that he cares deeply about other people,” Moist continued. “This comes through whether in his speeches about the impact that CVTC graduates have on every aspect of life in the area or in his recollection of Officer Bolton and the sacrifices our law enforcement community makes every day.”

“It was a vote of confidence,” Barker said. “We talk about education with a job description. Voters were approving a commodity. We are not here for self-enlightenment. People come here for a job.”

“The CVTC Board will greatly miss Bruce and the tremendous difference he makes at CVTC,” said Paul Bauer, president of the CVTC Board. “His guidance and innovative perspective will be difficult to replace, and we wish him all the best in this new chapter of his journey.”

Barker added that a lot of educational institutions have trouble keeping up with the times. “But CVTC is looked at as the one that leads the way,” he said. “The referendum addressed what is happening now and into the future, like the joining of information technology and transportation.”

A new president will be in place soon, and Barker said he hopes they will continue the focus of previous presidents. “I look at the continual development of CVTC, not just my time here,” he said. “People seek out education for different reasons, but there has to be a public good. We must be relevant to the future.”



MARKET & JOHNSON: BUILDER, PARTNER, ‘FUTUREMAKER’ Market & Johnson, the region’s dominant commercial construction company, and Chippewa Valley Technical College have made significant contributions to the area’s growth and development over the years. In many respects, they have done so by working together. The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board and CVTC recently recognized Market & Johnson’s contributions and its partnership with the College with the 2021 Futuremaker Partner Award, presented when CVTC hosted a virtual WTCS Board meeting Wednesday, March 17. The Futuremaker Partner Award is presented four times each year by the WTCS Board to recognize the unique, long-standing connections between the state’s employers and local technical colleges. “I could go on and on about the times we have worked closely with CVTC,” said Jerry Shea, president of Market & Johnson. “We have provided general contractor services for construction and renovations of many of their facilities, and they have provided us with well-trained employees as well as continuing education for our existing workers. CVTC is ingrained into the fabric of this area.” Market & Johnson is also ingrained in the area, as showcased in a video on the company’s website. In the video, company chairman Dan Market drives around Eau Claire past some of the most recognizable buildings in the city that Market & Johnson has played a major role in developing: the Pablo Center, The Lismore, RCU headquarters, the new Wipfli headquarters and many more. He could have also driven around western Wisconsin to see the company's work in high schools, elementary schools and private commercial buildings. At CVTC, Market & Johnson has been involved in the construction of the Energy Education Center, the Applied Technology Center, the L.E. Phillips Fire Safety Center and additions to the Manufacturing Education Center and the River Falls Campus. The company has completed renovation projects at the Business Education Center, including construction of the culinary kitchen, Shear Inspiration Salon and Spa, Casper Conference Center, the Student Commons and many others. Market & Johnson is the general contractor for the projects approved last year in CVTC’s $48.8 million referendum. A groundbreaking for another addition to the Manufacturing Education Center was held in the fall, and this spring another was held for one of the centerpiece projects, a new Transportation Education Center. A renovation and addition to the Emergency Services Education Center will follow, along with many smaller projects.


“Market & Johnson’s guidance and support on various construction projects at CVTC have provided high-quality learning spaces for our students,” said Bruce Barker, president of CVTC. “The company has also financially supported CVTC through donations to our Foundation and Student Emergency funds, as well as our Energy Education Center, Health Education Center and River Falls expansion project.” Market & Johnson has hired many CVTC graduates on construction crews and in office and support staff roles. Mike Seichter, a vice president and partner in the firm, is a CVTC graduate, as is the company information technology director. Shea currently serves on the CVTC Foundation Board, as Dan Market had previously. “CVTC is one of the first resources we turn to when we have something going on,” Shea said. “CVTC helped with our strategic planning, and we worked with the College in building a full-time human resources office. We emphasize continuing education for our employees and recently brought those opportunities in house with Market & Johnson Night University. CVTC instructors have taught a lot of those classes. We are intertwined with CVTC in so many ways, it’s cool.”

Shea uses a common term today to note that CVTC always seems to have “an app for that.” “We needed help with executive coaching. Does CVTC have someone? Absolutely,” Shea said, referring to CVTC's leadership training options. “Market & Johnson and CVTC have enjoyed a strong partnership for many years,” said Rod Bagley, CVTC director of facilities. “M&J manages CVTC’s construction projects while keeping the best interests of the College in mind. They offer a strong project management staff and support them with professional management and administrative teams. Together we’ve completed many successful projects while managing scope, schedule and budget. M&J manages project funds as if they were spending their own money.” “Market & Johnson’s connections to CVTC are incredible,” said WTCS Board President Becky Levzow. “These types of employer partnerships are what set technical colleges apart as education providers.” “CVTC is fortunate to have the commitment and dedication of Market & Johnson to forward our mission,” Barker said.



BUILDING INTEREST IN MACHINING Menomonie High School, CVTC and industry partnership boosts tech ed program Ryan Sterry, career and technical education coordinator at Menomonie High School (MHS), has many reasons to be proud of the programs he leads. However, he realizes that maintaining quality is not accomplished by sitting still. This spring, with the cooperation of school district administration, local industry and Chippewa Valley Technical College, he accomplished one of his primary goals to improve the tech ed offerings at MHS. In March, a new Haas Automation, Inc., CNC (computer numerical control) machine for manufacturing small metal parts was installed in the metals shop area. The addition represents a great leap forward for the students, who can now learn on the high tech equipment used in the CVTC Machine Tooling Technics program and found in the dozens of metals shops around the Chippewa Valley. Adding the machine at MHS took a lot of work and help from many people, including financial donations from Ken Skar, owner of Vincent Tool in Chippewa Falls; and Tom Karis, owner of Menomonie Machine Tool; and support from Jeff Sullivan, dean of apprenticeships, engineering, manufacturing and IT at CVTC. “There are so many great things about CVTC, but one is they really get partnerships,” Sterry said. Another is how CVTC works with local industry, something Sterry worked to emulate. “This all started about four years ago, when Ryan participated in teacher training in the summer at our manufacturing labs,” Sullivan recalled. “High school tech ed teachers didn’t have a background in Machine Tool.” “We have strong engineering, construction, manufacturing and communications technology pathways,” said Sterry, a teacher at MHS for over 20 years and an MHS graduate himself. "We had a strong tech ed program, but an area of need was in machine tool.” MHS has manual metals lathes but had no computerized machines, which are uncommon in high school shops. Karis, a 1980 MHS graduate, pointed out students should learn the basics on manual lathes before moving up to CNC. But if the goal is to get students interested in the field and learn what employees do in professional metals shops, manual machines just don’t 'cut it.' “Manual machines just don’t have the ‘wow’ factor that automation does,” Karis said. MHS works with advisory committees made up of people in local businesses for technical education, much like CVTC does for all its programs. “We formed a separate committee for

machine tool,” Sterry said. Skar and Karis are members. “We had manual equipment but not enough,” Sterry said. “We wrote some grants and got district support to buy more manual lathes. But we felt we needed to add a CNC machine. We wanted to mimic the program at CVTC.” The school was already working closely with CVTC, where Sullivan, Sterry’s predecessor as MHS tech ed coordinator, leads the manufacturing programs. CVTC worked with MHS to establish two MHS Machine Tool classes that also earn CVTC credits for the high school students. Sterry had his eyes on starting a third class, which would utilize a CNC machine. Sterry approached Brian Seguin, director of instruction for the school district, with his idea. “We looked at how we could gain support and funding,” Seguin said. “Mr. Sterry has always done a good job at looking at multiple funding sources. One of the things that impressed me was that they had already thought about that.” The advisory committee was in full support and provided advice on what kind of machine to buy, and district adminis-

tration was behind it as well, according to Sterry. Sullivan said he and the CVTC Machine Tool faculty were enthusiastic. “This is an awesome thing, and Menomonie is the perfect school district for it because it is a larger town but serves a rural area, where machining classes tend to be more popular,” said Wade Latz of the CVTC faculty. Latz gave Sullivan and Sterry a lot of credit for moving the idea forward. “Not a bit of this happens without Jeff Sullivan seeing a need and talking to his friend Ryan, who built community and school district support,” Latz said. “It was a perfect storm of people who saw the value in this and worked to make it happen.”

cal Institute when there was a shortage of machinists,” Karis said. “There is still a shortage today. And I have read that the average age of machinists is 55. My generation is getting ready to retire.” Karis has supported the program by hiring interns. He said he will be happy to see some coming with CNC experience. But that doesn’t mean high school graduates will be immediately ready for his production floor.


Sterry said a tremendous amount of credit goes to the business owners who made generous monetary contributions for the purchase. In the end, the school district funded about half of the approximately $45,000 cost, with donations and grants covering the rest. Karis says he was happy to support the project because the industry needs to encourage young people to enter the field. “Forty years ago, I went to what was then District One Techni-

“Learning the trade is a two-to three year process,” Karis said. "It’s important to start training students early so they know what they like and don’t like.” Skar supported the MHS program despite his business not being in the Menomonie school district.

“They have a very active and growing metals program at Menomonie and want to take it to the next level,” Skar said. “Having a CNC machine opens up career paths for the students.” Skar agreed with Karis that the industry needs more machinists. “We are seeking student enrollment in the Machine Tool program at CVTC, and the way we do that is to generate interest at the high school and even the middle school level.” Skar added that he’d like to support efforts on an annual basis, taking advantage of available matching grants. “It’s a win-win for the school district and for the industry,” Sterry will integrate use of the CNC machine into the school’s advanced Machine Tool classes, then work with Sullivan and CVTC on setting up a dual credit class. “We will work with them on the curriculum,” Sullivan said. “We have classes in Machine Tool that are five credits, and in the past, we’ve set them up so students could take two of the credits in a dual credit class and finish the other three at CVTC.” Sullivan added that CVTC is already seeing more MHS graduates enrolling in Machine Tool at CVTC, just from the increased emphasis at the high school level. “Teaching machining is important because there are so many jobs available.”



THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB Northwestern Bank’s Michele Koch is the 2021 Distinguished Alumnus While Michele Koch was director of human resources for Northwestern Bank, the chief operations officer position became available. Soon after the position opened, she asked bank President Jerry Jacobson if he had found someone

many departments, I continue to guide and mentor coworkers. Employees know I am available to help them in any way I can. I try to set them up so they and the bank can be successful.” Among the aspects Koch said she likes best about working at Northwestern Bank is the community involvement. She noted that customers know how much the bank is engaged with the community and appreciate it. “I am proud to be an employee of a community bank that gives back, both in monetary donations and volunteer hours,” Koch said.

I’m proud to be an employee of

a community bank that gives back. for the opening. She vividly remembers his answer, “Yes, I think I have found someone. You!” The answer stunned her, as the position normally requires a four-year degree. Koch graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College in 1984 with a Financial Services program degree. She started at the bank as a receptionist a few weeks later. Koch’s CVTC degree and 30-year reputation for work ethic and job performance were proof for Jacobson that she was ready for the COO position, which she has held for five years. Now Koch is the winner of the CVTC Alumni Association’s 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented at the virtual Spring Gala April 8. According to Koch, “My most noteworthy accomplishment in my career is working myself up from receptionist to chief operations officer. Being part of the senior management team and leading the bank and employees is a definite win for me.” Koch, a native of Chippewa Falls, decided early that CVTC was for her. “I didn’t want to go to a four-year school,” she said. “I wanted to enter the workforce. Financial Services intrigued me, so I pursued it.” A dedicated employee, Koch moved up the ladder, including safe deposit vault attendant, teller, loan processor, head teller and human resources director. "Now as COO and supervisor to



Koch demonstrates this community spirit in her personal life. She has served as a volunteer at the Chippewa Falls Moose Lodge, a teacher with Junior Achievement, a member of the finance committee for the Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest, a volunteer for Agnes’ Table and for the Feed My People pop-up pantry. “I strive to give back to the communities which have given me so much and made me the person I am today.” Koch has not forgotten her roots in her ladder of success. She has given back to CVTC by serving on the CVTC Alumni Board and was on the Spring Gala planning committee. She volunteered at CVTC graduation ceremonies and helped welcome the graduating students to the Alumni Association. She often attends the spring scholarship receptions. “I promote the College whenever possible,” she said. “We have hired several CVTC graduates at the bank. They are awesome employees!” Looking back, Koch recalled that she asked for some time to think about the offer of the COO position. She didn’t want to disappoint Jacobson and the bank. But he assured her that he was confident she would be successful in the new role. After a meeting with the Board of Directors, Jacobson again approached Koch. Jacobson said he had just told the board about hiring her as COO, and everyone thought it was a wonderful idea. Now when the board meets, the CVTC graduate and former receptionist is in the room with them.

A NATURAL LEADER Small business owner Anthony Nied is the 2021 Outstanding Recent Alumnus Anthony Nied wasn’t the only one struggling after his college graduation in 2008. The start of the great recession was one of the worst times in recent memory to graduate from a university. But he found a way to make the best of the situation by developing a new interest and turning to Chippewa Valley Technical College for help. Today, he is the owner of Safe & Simple Organic Lawns, a lawn care company specializing in using natural products instead of chemical pesticides. He is also the recipient of the 2021 CVTC Alumni Association’s Outstanding Recent Alumni award, presented at the April 8 Spring Gala. “I graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and certificates in Business Communications and Leadership,” Nied said. “I received an award for distinguished leadership.”

design and sales, greenhouse management and assisting with planning their retail expansion.” With two children at home, Nied decided to branch out and start his own business. “The mission was to improve our quality of life and offer my landscape design and installation services,” he said. “My wife and I love participating in as many of the everyday business activities as possible and also learned how important it is to be involved and support your community.”


But with the recession, marketing jobs weren’t available. Nied took a job at Lowes Creek Tree Farm doing landscaping. Taking an interest in the field, he enrolled in CVTC’s Landscape, Plant and Turf Management program to learn more about the industry. “I was highly involved and engaged in the program and the College through helping to build a greenhouse on campus and assisting with the installation of landscaping projects,” he said. Because of his four-year degree, Nied was able to complete the program in one year, including an internship at Down to Earth Garden Center in Eau Claire. “After graduating in 2011, I became the manager of their lawn care division, and for six years was an integral part of all functions of the business, including operations management, landscape

Nied has donated his time and resources to improving landscaping at local schools and provides support for organizations like Beaver Creek Reserve, Bob’s House for Dogs and the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra. In 2018, Nied went into organic lawn care, and his business became an eco-friendly lawn care service. “I was doing conventional lawn care, but we had a baby at home and I was coming home covered with pesticides. I wanted something safer.”

Nied is not only practicing organic lawn care, but he’s also spreading the word about its advantages and helping the community at the same time. “I organize free educational sessions on multiple subjects, including do-it-yourself organic lawn care, and a new session on natural alternatives to lawns," Nied said. Nied has remained close to CVTC since his graduation. When he was with Down to Earth, he brought a CVTC class to a job site for some real-world experience. Every year, he attends the program’s interview day and last year hired a student intern. He serves on the Landscape, Plant and Turf Management program advisory committee as well as a subcommittee that created landscape and lawn care classes available to community members and students. The recession set back Nied’s plans, but with the help of CVTC, he found a new career path and ways to make a difference in the community. He is especially thankful to his lead instructor. “I’d like to thank Susan Frame for everything she’s done,” he said. “She supported me in the program and out.”



A WIN-WIN RELATIONSHIP WIN Technology is CVTC’s 2021 Proven Business Partner Award Winner

I don’t feel we would be where we are now as a business if it were not for CVTC. - Scott Hoffman

WIN Technology, honored with the 2021 Chippewa Valley Technical College Proven Business Partner Award at the Spring Gala, is a business built on partnerships. WIN is owned by 31 Wisconsin-based independent telephone companies that had a common need and came together to create a solution. The result is a fiberoptic network with faster speeds, greater bandwidth and the ability to reroute communications traffic around problem areas to increase reliability.



CEO Scott Hoffmann explains the partner telephone companies could not have formed the organization without each other, and WIN could not have developed into the company it is today without CVTC. “WIN is very fortunate to be able to tap into the pool of graduates coming out of CVTC,” he said. “The Chippewa Valley should also feel fortunate to have such an outstanding educational institution that readies individuals for the work-

force right here. This has been a key factor in the growth and development we are seeing in the area. It certainly has been a key factor in WIN’s growth over the years.” The genesis of WIN came in 1997 as fiber optics technology was taking over the telecommunications industry. The small phone companies needed to convert to fiber optics for the sake of reliability and speed and to provide faster internet services to their customers. Being an internet service provider requires a lot of data handling and storage capabilities, which made more sense for companies to do together. “WIN operates a 10,000-mile fiber optic network across the Midwest,” Hoffmann said. “What we do with the network touches hundreds of thousands of lives every day. Our network may carry your cell phone conversations or data. It is used for critical communications infrastructure between institutions and businesses. “Behind the scenes, the network delivers internet services to Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa communities,” Hoffmann continued. “We also take care of IT operations of businesses, and our cloud engagement platform, Perigon, facilitates online virtual meetings.” CVTC was an early user of the Perigon platform, using it for the Fast Pass event for prospective students last year.

WIN supports CVTC through funding scholarships and providing advisory services. “We work a lot with the IT-Network Specialist program at CVTC. The program lines up well with what we do here at WIN,” Hoffmann said. “Instructors will bring their classes through our facility for tours. It’s a great opportunity to show students what they might be working towards and to answer questions they might have about WIN.” “From hiring multiple CVTC graduates to being active participants in the College, WIN Technologies has been a strong partner with the College for many years,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker. "Like CVTC, WIN recognizes the value of strong partnerships. It’s how their business started and has continued to grow.” “It is very important that we continue to partner and remain involved in supporting the efforts of CVTC,” Hoffmann said. “In doing so, we are supporting the community, but we are also supporting our own future. I can honestly say that I don’t feel we would be where we are now as a business if it were not for CVTC and the outstanding young people we have hired from CVTC over the years.”

WIN established its headquarters in Eau Claire in 1999. Hoffmann said the company employs 130 people with 80 located in Eau Claire. “We hire a lot of CVTC graduates,” Hoffmann said. “I believe over one third of our staff are CVTC graduates. We started down this path over 15 years ago. At the time we had fewer than 10 employees.” The company needed a type of engineer who wasn’t available in Eau Claire, Hoffmann said. To bring them in from outside the area would be difficult and expensive. “We determined we would likely need to hire and train in house for that skill set in the future,” Hoffmann said. “So, we turned our focus to hiring and training CVTC graduates.” A typical CVTC graduate from the IT-Network Specialist program starts as a technician in the Network Management Center, learning about the business and the network. “Along the way, we learn about them,” Hoffmann said. “Over time, many have progressed within our company and now have roles in all of our business units. A number have been promoted into engineering and supervisory management roles. I’m very proud of these individuals for what they have accomplished so far in their careers with WIN Technology.”



BUILDING HOMES, PARTNERSHIPS Residential Construction program works with local builders

[The partnership] supports the industry

by bringing in the next generation of builders. - Tami Kucera


In 2010, Matt Schumacher joined fellow Chippewa Valley Technical College Residential Construction students in building a house. Now, with 10 years under his belt as a professional in the field, Schumacher is the construction manager for the twin home the current Residential Construction students are building. Schumacher admited, though, that Program Director Brian Barth is handling the day-to-day project management as well as the instruction and supervision of the students. What brought the alumnus Schumacher into the picture is a partnership in which CVTC works with a private construction company that owns the project and will sell the home when completed. This is the second year that Schumacher’s employer, C&M Home Builders of Eau Claire, has worked with CVTC to the

benefit of both the company and the College. CVTC’sResidential Construction program in River Falls has the same agreement with Lund Builders. Adam Wehling, dean of agriculture, energy and transportation, explained that CVTC had been building houses on its own previously, buying the land, supplies, and hiringsubcontractors. “We would do everything, even act as a real estate agent in selling the home,” Barth said. Wehling noted that a few years ago, CVTC had partnerships with the Chippewa County Housing Authority and Lyman Lumber that worked out well, so the College has turned back to active partnerships in a more comprehensive fashion.


“It’s better to partner with someone so the College doesn’t carry the financial risk,” Wehling said, explaining that if the housing market turned volatile, there would be no guarantee CVTC would get its investment back, leaving taxpayers to absorb the loss. “Our partnerships continue to evolve. This is a good one that’s working well right now.” “Partnering with CVTC for the last two years building twin homes has been great for our company and CVTC,” said Cody Filipczak, owner of C&M. “It allows us to build another property, and it gives CVTC the opportunity to build two properties in one. It is a mutually beneficial collaboration, and hopefully we can continue the partnership going forward.” “The partnership benefits Lund and the CVTC program,” said Tami Kucera, owner of Lund Builders with her husband, Todd. “It supports the industry by bringing in the next generation of builders. And it frees up our workers for other projects.” “With the burden of risk minimized, Justin Borgwardt at the River Falls program and I can concentrate on teaching and managing the house projects.” Barth said. “On a February day when he was expecting a check-in visit from Schumacher, Barth had his class gathered as he demonstrated how to paint an interior wall with a roller, including the finer points of going back over the area using a “herringbone” pattern that helps smooth out streaks. He assigned the students to areas to get the job done. Providing the students with instruction and experience that will make them effective on future job sites is his main job.

“The difference with the C&M partnership is that we don’t have to look over invoices or do purchase orders,” he said. “On all the deliveries and supplies, I work closely with C&M. We don’t hire the subcontractors, but we are in charge of the scheduling when it’s time to install the plumbing or electrical.” Borgwardt said he feels the partnerships are good for students, too. “It provides more opportunities for the students to learn different methods and techniques,” he said. “For example, in the Eau Claire area, drywall finishing is usually finished with an orange peel texture, but in River Falls it tends to be flat. It can vary from region to region or between different contractors.” Borgwardt added that it’s also good for the students to see how a contractor like Lund works with its subcontractors. Schumacher learned the trade through the CVTC program and said he’s still a fan of it. It allowed him to secure an internship with C&M, then work his way up to foreman and now project manager. Seeing how he has succeeded as a graduate shows current students what’s possible for them. “The partnership helps us at C&M, too,” Schumacher said. “It provides future employees and helps us build more homes.” “The CVTC program is important for our industry,” Filipczak said. “There is a labor shortage that is having an effect on housing prices and timing. A lot of our best carpenters graduated from CVTC, including Matt, who is now a construction manager and shareholder. The program has benefited our company and has also benefited students who now have good jobs.”

STAYING ON TRACK Grants help at-risk CVTC students Judy Madlon of Altoona understandably felt apprehensive enrolling in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Medical Assistant program last fall. At 47 years old with two adult children in college, and with no history of others in her family attending college, she knew she would be in unfamiliar territory among the younger people in her classes. Experience has shown that students like Judy are at higher risk of failing to complete their college education. Fortunately, Madlon was able to find help, thanks to a $1.31 million TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. CVTC has also received a Title III Strengthening Institutions Program Grant that also helps at-risk students. “I always wanted to go to college, but I didn’t have the opportunity when I was younger,” Madlon said. “I was nervous about it.” Madlon had an idea how the TRIO grant program could help, as her daughter is in a program at UW-Eau Claire funded by a TRIO grant. The TRIO SSS grant (named as one of three core federal grant programs) enhances support services for students from low-income households, who are first-generation college students or have a disability. People from those groups are of higher risk of dropping out, according to Margo Keys, CVTC vice president of student services. “We know that low income and first-generation students don’t always know how to navigate college,” Keys said. “This grant brings them together rather than leaving them to figure out things on their own.” Students receive one-on-one advising and career counseling. The students work together and meet regularly, allowing them to support one another, Keys added. Money from the grant funds grant director Forrest Buck and coach Jennifer Moua. Madlon chose the Medical Assistant program as a bridge into Nursing, a program she has been accepted to for Fall 2021. That career path takes planning. A full-time mother and caregiver for her parents for most of her life, Madlon came to CVTC with no experience in planning college schedules for multiple years. “Because of my daughter’s experience, I was familiar with the support the program offered for scheduling classes to reach your goal,” Madlon said. Madlon said she felt a general need for help navigating through college. “I wanted help getting acclimated,” she said. “TRIO is designed to be a support system. When you don’t know where to go for answers, they will send you in the right direction.”


Buck said the program is designed to help about 140 students a year over a five-year period. With the program just getting started this spring, about 60 were being helped as of midMarch. “We go over an individual growth plan,” Buck said. “We also encourage them to meet with the Financial Aid office and their academic advisors.” Buck added that most of the students qualify for the program by being first-generation college students from their families, but many qualify under multiple criteria. “It’s going really well so far,” Buck said. “We just got started on our one-on-one meetings in March. A lot of the students didn’t know about all the services available.” Similarly, the Title III Strengthening Institutions $2.2 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education aims to increase student retention rates through a program of academic, financial and social support systems. “At CVTC, we have been strongly focused on student success and completion for several years,” said Rachelle Phakitthong, director of curriculum and professional development and the grant project director. “Among the things this grant is going to do is allow us to establish a robust degree planning process by adding some new tools and allowing students to follow a guided path while monitoring their progress.” The grant will also increase e-learning support for students and faculty teaching online courses to narrow the success level gap. “Traditionally, the success rate for online students is lower than the face-to-face students,” Phakitthong said. “This will help us measure and reduce that gap.” Another focus of the grant is to decrease barriers to student success. “Often, when we lose students, it’s not because of ability, but money, or some things going on in their lives,” Phakitthong said. The grant includes funds to expand the capacity of the financial literacy program; additional coaching, workshops, mental health services; and more use of open resource textbooks. “Without this grant, these are steps we wouldn’t be able to take for some time,” Phakitthong said.

MEET THE BOARD CVTC Foundation, Inc., board members contribute their talents and resources to forward the mission and strategic initiatives of Chippewa Valley Technical College and the Alumni Association.

David Leisses

Scott Hoffmann

Gordon Howie

Megan Bollman

President J. F. Ahern Co.

Vice President WIN Technology

Secretary Mayo Clinic Health System

Oral Surgery Associates

Tena Hoag

Wesley Escondo

Laurie Klinkhammer

Paul Kohler

Advanced Laser Machining, Inc.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern WI

Nodolf Flory, LLP

Charter Bank Eau Claire

Therese Pershall

Dean Rohde

Sheri Scheidler

Jerry Shea

First National Bank of River Falls

Bye, Goff & Rohde, Ltd.

Mule-Hide Manufacturing Company, Inc.

Market & Johnson, Inc.

LOOKING FORWARD The past year was filled with challenges and difficulty. However, it was also a year that provided opportunity and learning. It has been inspirational to view Chippewa Valley Technical College's resilience and enduring commitment to training the essential workers of our communities. The CVTC Foundation, Inc., could not be more proud to support the work of providing quality education. As the warmth of spring settles in, we look forward to the season of scholarships and making education more accessible for our amazing students. We also look to the breaking ground of several “Building Our Future” referendum projects aimed to enhance the learning quality and capacity of CVTC. Lastly, we are excited to contribute to initiatives surrounding renewable energy and diversity, equity and inclusion. The Foundation remains committed to enhancing and strengthening the learning that takes place at CVTC. This work is made possible by the generosity of the communities in which we serve and through the guidance of a talented and supportive board of directors. Our deepest thanks to all of you for making our work meaningful. Visit to learn more about the opportunities to leave a legacy in our communities. With gratitude, Karen Kohler

Tyler Tomesh

Denise Wurtzel

CCF Bank

Williams Diamond Center

620 W. Clairemont Avenue

Non-Profit Org U.S. Postage PAID Permit 43 Eau Claire, WI

Eau Claire, WI 54701

THANK YOU! Thank you, President Bruce Barker from the entire CVTC family! Your dedication to the CVTC mission and values, your leadership and your personal warmth to both students and employees have been an inspiration to us all. You will be greatly missed! Enjoy many relaxing and meaningful retirement years with your family.



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