For Madison College's new south-side campus, location is key.
The Goodman South Campus, which opens on Tuesday, is strategically located to capitalize on its proximity to a host of community resources with which the school is partnering.
“One of the reasons this is a key area is because of the number of community-based organizations in the area,” said Jack Daniels, president of Madison College, also known as Madison Area Technical College.
The new 75,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art campus is just across the street from Centro Hispano and a block from the Urban League of Greater Madison, both of which will work with the college to provide educational resources to clients seeking jobs and careers. It’s a short drive from other community-based organizations the college is collaborating with, including the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, Access Community Health’s mental health services, the Literacy Network, Catholic Charities and several long-standing churches.
After 15 months of construction, the new campus at the intersection of Perry Street and West Badger Road is ready — or nearly ready — to welcome students.
During a media tour Wednesday, the building was teeming with workers installing the last of the nearly 700 computers in common areas and 62 classrooms, installing art displays that will highlight the diversity of the incoming student body, landscaping the grounds and performing the multitude of tasks left before more than 1,600 students arrive on Tuesday. In coming years the student body is expected to grow to more than 4,000.
“We will be ready,” Daniels said.
The campus will be a quantum leap from the colleges former small facility at the nearby Village Mall, which is closing. Unlike that location, the Goodman campus will offer comprehensive programming for certificates and degrees.
Daniels said it’s still unclear how many of the new students will come from the south side's challenged neighborhoods. A zip code analysis will be conducted about 10 days into the semester.
He said connecting with the community is a key priority. The building will offer computer stations for public use, and a community room that seats in excess of 200 will be available for events.
The area the school will serve stretches across a swath that goes from Stoughton Road to the east to Gammon Road to the west. It includes neighborhoods like Bridge-Lakepoint-Waunona, Allied and Meadowood, perennially underserved and heavily populated by people of color. And Madison College is rolling out a transportation system to get them to classes.
“We are using our shuttle system to go through the neighborhoods,” Daniels said. “And we have actually scheduled stops where folks can get on and come to the campus.”
Other shuttles, he said, will take students to and from classes at the college’s Truax campus on the city’s northeast side.
The two-story facility is also located just across the street from Madison Metro’s south transfer point and a couple of blocks from the Park Street exit from the Beltline, cutting several miles from the drive to the Truax campus from places south like Oregon and McFarland.
The campus includes a legal center to help students with problems that can pose obstacles to education, with a focus on expungements and driver's license recovery.
“We know that is often a barrier for students,” said Tina Ahedo, dean of the south campus.
With a focus on training for fields with worker demand — health care, information technology and manufacturing — the school is designed to get people started on careers. For those looking to start their own businesses, there is an entrepreneur center. For those who need academic help, there’s a tutoring center.
The campus will also be the new home for the Madison School District’s STEM academy, which offers advanced learning and college credits to high school students. For those without high school diplomas, the school has programming and a certified GED testing center that will graduate about 300 students a year.
Daniels said the campus is making moves to give a leg up to demographics that have traditionally struggled to gain a good livelihood, such as a Men of Excellence program that focuses on Latinx and African American men, who are at the bottom of the so-called “achievement gap.” The 70 men enrolled will also be provided laptops.
The college’s industrial maintenance program is geared toward providing well-paying careers for those without educational credentials and for inmates on work release.
And for those who are already working, sometimes multiple jobs, the campus will have classes seven days a week, from early mornings to late evenings. Most students, Daniels said, will be part-time, taking an average of about two classes.
“One of the things we looked at in the needs of this area, we have many unemployed, but many underemployed,” he said. “They’re working two or three different jobs.”
The campus will employ 61 full-time faculty, tucked into an expansive cubicle hive, most of whom were transferred from other Madison College campuses. Daniels said the college has taken steps to make the faculty reflect the races and ethnicities of the student body. The college’s current student body is about 25 percent students of color, he said.
“We know from research as well as from practical experience, if you bring folks in who look more like you, there’s a likelihood for you to be retained and persist to meet your goal,” he said.
The courses will offer state-of-the-art facilities, with nursing classrooms with simulation props, four science labs, including a neurobiology classroom complete with a cadaver room, and classrooms equipped to serve remote learners.
The $25 million campus was funded entirely with private donations, with $10 million from the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Foundation, $10.2 million from Ascendium Education Group, formerly Great Lakes Higher Education Corp., and $1.3 million from the American Family Dreams Foundation. Several other groups and individuals kicked in substantial amounts. Because of state-imposed caps, only $1.5 million came from property taxpayers.