Students’ paths to Madison College are many and varied, and its new president, Jack E. Daniels, III, is charting an ambitious map for success by any road taken
New president Jack E. Daniels, III, has big plans for Madison College
PHOTOS BY TIMOTHY HUGHES
Recent high school graduates. Transfers from regional tech colleges. Adults in job-transition or career-change mode. Students of all shapes and forms flock to Madison College from myriad directions. And whether they then transfer to a four-year program at UW–Madison or elsewhere or move straight into employment, they need to be prepared for a changing world.
Recognizing this, president Jack E. Daniels, III, and his team are updating the college’s academic plan to align with students, jobs and businesses of the future. “My focus—both as president of Southwest College in Los Angeles and here—has always been about students’ success,” he says. “We know we need to offer more certificates and degrees for specific jobs to keep students in the community, which enhances our quality of life in Madison and in the regional communities the college serves.”
Toward that end, in 2013 the college held a leadership retreat and a faculty/staff convocation to generate and share ideas, and conducted extensive market research and trend analysis. A survey of nearly 1,200 advisory board members from twenty-eight industries followed, along with industry focus groups from thirty-five employers.
The survey indicates seventy-seven percent of employers in Madison College’s twelve-county district—four regional campuses and the Madison ones—plan to invest in incumbent worker training. It also suggests that a proven new skill set trumps academic credentials. “Therefore we’re exploring developing learning badges for using new technologies,” says Turina Bakken, associate vice president of learner success.
“We’re also building a robust system to provide credit for prior learning so we can offer more flexible degrees,” she adds. “As our student demographic changes, we need to offer credit for experience including military service, employment and other types of educational experience, provided it can be assessed and validated. We want to increase students’ speed to completion, but never at the expense of quality and integrity of learning.”
The survey also reveals that employers want to partner with Madison College to provide real-world experiences for young people. “We’re reinventing our model to involve them more,” notes Bakken.
Employers can offer apprenticeships, internships and mentoring, and Madison College is improving its ongoing marketplace assessment and trend analysis to stay current. It’s also creating a feedback loop to ensure employers and community organizations can contribute to future programming and curriculum innovation.
The high-school-to-college pathway is another critical focus. “In addition to providing GED [general education development] certificate and HSED [high school equivalency diploma] testing—and ensuring that those students get outstanding career advising—we have many dual enrollment options,” Bakken explains. “High school faculty may teach our college curriculum or high school students attend Madison College.”
A number of students transfer from Madison College to four-year institutions, and the college is developing a plan to identify partner institutions as members of the Madison College Transfer Partner Completion Program. It plans to increase marketing of transfer opportunities for Madison College graduates, and develop innovative baccalaureate completion and pre-major programs on the Madison College campus.
The college is updating its facilities to accommodate its diverse student body. For instance, a new gateway, largely student-designed, welcomes people to the Madison Truax campus. The campus also boasts a new 170,000-square-foot health education center with state-of-the-art technology in its classrooms. The center features a virtual hospital training center with six simulation labs; community, dental and therapeutic massage clinics; and geothermal heating/cooling, a green roof, and surrounding rain gardens that support the college’s Smart Future Building Plan.
On the sports front, the women’s volleyball team recently won its first national title, the fifth national championship in school history. “A lot of people refer to Madison College as Madison’s best kept secret,” Bakken says. “They know we’re here, but they’re not aware of all the amazing things we’re doing. And during his tenure as president, Dr. Daniels is committed to changing that.”