Three new people, including a former Democratic Senate candidate, will join the Wisconsin Technical College System board and another will get a second term, Gov. Tony Evers announced Wednesday.
Evers will appoint Alex Lasry, former senior vice president for the Milwaukee Bucks and Democratic candidate in last year’s U.S. Senate race, as a public member, replacing current board president Rodney Pasch; Lindsay Blumer, CEO of workforce intermediary company Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership, who will fill the employer seat as Stephen Willet’s term expires; and Janixa Franco Gonzalez, a Waukesha County Technical College student, who will follow Megan Bahr for the two-year student term.
Evers also has reappointed Quincey Daniels Jr., a curriculum planning consultant for school districts, for another term in his public member seat. Public and employer appointments are for six years.
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“Our technical colleges are vital to our higher education system and critical to building a workforce of the 21st century, and we’re grateful to each of these members — both new and returning — for their commitment to upholding our technical college system’s mission and serving its students,” Evers said in a statement.
The technical school board has 13 members, including six public members and four others with specific qualifications — being an employer, an employee, a student and a farmer — as well as ex-officio members from the UW Board of Regents, the state superintendent and the state Department of Workforce Development secretary.
The farmer seat is yet to be filled, as Viroqua-area dairy farmer Paul Buhr was appointed to the board but never served in an official capacity, as former Gov. Scott Walker appointee Becky Levzow stayed in the seat for 20 months after her term expired. Buhr later withdrew his nomination in January to be appointed to the state Department of Natural Resources board.
Technical College System spokesperson Katy Pettersen said Wednesday she wasn’t aware of any intent by the members with expiring terms to retain their seats by not leaving until the Republican-controlled state Senate confirms new members.
Former state DNR policy board member Fred Prehn refused to step down after his term expired and later won a lawsuit in which the conservative-controlled state Supreme Court ruled political appointees don’t have to leave until the Senate confirms their successors.
After Prehn announced his resignation, Levzow and fellow Walker appointees Kelly Tourdot and Mary Williams followed suit.
The end of Pasch’s term also will result in a new member of the Regents board, as he had been serving as the ex-officio member as the technical school board president.
Fave 5: Reporter Kimberly Wethal shares her favorite stories of 2022
In the weeks before I joined the Wisconsin State Journal in September, I was told this: Remember that a higher education institution is like their own city. It has its own character and struggles, defined by the students who learn there and the faculty who teach them.
I have seen this over and over again, and it was particularly clear when I visited UW-Platteville at Richland a week after the University of Wisconsin System ordered degree-fulfilling classes to cease because of low enrollment. During my visit, I found many of the devastated students to be emotionally invested in their campus community — and committed to saving it.
It's why Richland Center grieving the loss of its once-vibrant campus is my top story of 2022.
UW-Madison has its own slate of issues. There, a growing population is pitted against on- and off-campus housing availability. I wrote about the tactics used to clear returning students out of the dorms to make room for freshmen, and the frenzy that ensued as students put their lives on hold to secure housing for next fall.
At Madison Area Technical College, a key issue is how to alleviate barriers their students face just to get into the classroom. Finding adequate child care is one of them — I wrote about the efforts to expand future access at the Goodman South Campus and its four rural campuses.
Much of my beat is hard news, but some of my favorite stories are features of students who make up the character of campus. I wrote about Kirstan Gimse, the student commencement speaker who's achieving her dream of being a scientist that she saw as unattainable.
I'm looking forward to diving deeper into the beat in 2023 and am so grateful for the support of State Journal subscribers that allows me to be one of the few reporters in the state dedicated solely to covering higher education.
After budget cuts and consolidations, the campus' enrollment is down 90% from 2014, and UW-Platteville was ordered to shutter the campus.
With record enrollment contributing to the housing crunch, UW-Madison lured students out of dorms by offering incentives to live elsewhere.
Management companies are seeing some of their housing in prime areas sell out three to four weeks faster than previous years.
A new Early Learning Center that opened in 2021 at MATC's Truax campus doubled capacity, and a facility at the Goodman South campus could be next.
UW-Madison doctorate student Kirstan Gimse found the courage to go back to school a decade ago from a chemistry professor she would wait on.