State of Madison College Address

A message from Dr. Jack E. Daniels, III

June 11, 2020

Dear Madison College Community, 

The last few months have been extremely difficult due to COVID-19. In addition, another unjust death of an African American man, George Floyd, has caused us to experience a wide array of emotions including sadness, frustration, and yes - anger. Through it all I have witnessed a deep sense of community that is the heart of Madison College. We are a community that embraces fairness, equity, and respect for each other. We are a community that will unite in a world being pulled apart by uncertainty.

 

Madison College has been forced to prepare for a future that is difficult to imagine.

 

And yet, we imagine. We put our heads together to find ways to help each other and to give back to our students and neighbors. As a result, our college community has never been stronger.

 

I am beyond proud of every member of the Madison College community. We banded together, often swiftly. We provided ventilators and masks to area hospitals and clinics. We raised and donated funds to our students in need. We gave 3,755 pounds of food to a local pantry. We helped find forever homes for 35 cats and dogs. We raised money for our emergency student scholarship fund. And we adapted quickly—students and instructors alike—to a remote learning environment that I know was unfamiliar territory.

 

The next few months will be challenging. What we did prior to mid-March is now gone from our reality; what used to feel “normal” is now history. Businesses have closed, large public gatherings to celebrate are cancelled and our physical relationships have moved from personal to distant; from face-to-face to virtual. We are reminded daily that the only constant is change.

 

We have been following Wisconsin’s Safer-at-Home order and will continue to follow health policy and social distancing guidance.

 

As we move forward, I feel more positive about our future than ever before. Positivity and flexibility have always guided Madison College. These hallmarks of our success are critical to delivering on our mission to provide open access to quality higher education. They are the recurring themes throughout our 108-year history and are even more salient as this pivotal chapter unfolds.

 

The meaning of community  

We take this word seriously because it is the backbone of Madison College. Who are we without our students? Where would we be without our employers and partners throughout our 12-county district? What would we do without our staff and faculty? We have all had to be creative in changing how we meet, learn and teach. We continue to persevere, pushing forward with hope and optimism at every turn.

Strong lessons strengthen our core 

We have learned that our faculty and staff are resilient. In a very short time, our faculty rallied to create meaningful remote instruction across our many programs. Our 20+ years of expertise in online learning cascaded across our college. Faculty supported other faculty, and we delivered high-quality, remote instruction. Our staff devised remote opportunities to provide financial aid assistance, in addition to counseling and advising. These services were so desperately needed for our students. So many students faced anxieties and uncertainty, wondering whether they could access our programs. Our faculty and staff found ways to ease their anxieties. Our team has been adaptable in providing quality learning and have quickly embraced necessary technology to provide top-notch instruction. And we continue to support our employees in every way we can.

Planning for our future 

We have organized several teams to develop and monitor the evolution of instructional delivery and support, remote training, facilities, health and safety, technology, and student services delivery systems. Contingency plans have been made to meet the changing landscape of the pandemic and its outcomes, ensuring we continue to provide accessible and affordable education to our diverse communities, regardless of what comes next.

Safety is our priority 

Health and safety have been and will always remain our top priority. Stringent safety protocols have been implemented including required face coverings, a daily self-diagnostic campus entry survey, and physical distancing standards. We have hired a public health team to monitor these processes, and work with local health experts. In addition, the College’s custodial staff is following Centers for Disease Control facility and disinfecting protocols and enacting such practices daily.

Madison College graduates are in your life 

Whether you realize it or not, you encounter Madison College graduates every day. From the nurse you spoke to at your last doctor’s appointment, to the auto technician who fixed your car, our alumni provide “essential services” throughout our district.

We recognize our responsibility to our students and community as the local economy reopens. This spring, we made sure students graduating from programs where there is high demand — healthcare, IT, protective services, manufacturing and more — were able to complete their hands-on training safely so they can enter the local workforce as soon as possible.

I am also very optimistic in our plans to continue to meet student and employer demand into the future. Our 150-plus technical programs continue to be well-positioned to provide training, especially in high-demand and essential workforce areas.

Flexible programming continues 

Our ability to educate and train in varied class formats and areas of study is fundamental. We remain flexible yet strong. Our faculty are empowered and motivated to keep growing and developing in their industry and as teachers. Our Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) is a hub of innovation dedicated to helping faculty teach in many delivery modes. As leaders in remote learning for nearly 20 years, we ensure that online and remote classes are high-quality, engaging and accessible. We work hard to support our students so they can find confidence and success in a remote environment.

Transfer programs stand strong 

During this disruption, we have strengthened our partnerships with UW-Madison. We collectively agreed to a pass-fail option for our spring and summer classes. We have also signed a new agreement for transfer with Milwaukee School of Engineering. This is in addition to our existing transfer agreement with UW-Platteville and many other transfer partners.

Full course schedule for fall 

Madison College is fully operational. All student services including our bookstore, counseling, advising, success centers, and the library continue to be fully functional remotely. We stand committed to meeting the challenges of reinvigorating our economy. We are planning a gradual return of employees to campuses in July and August, as conditions permit.

We know that fall classes will be offered in a variety of formats for the safety and convenience of our students. By July 15, final decisions will be made on fall term course formats. By August 1, final decisions on athletic competitions, travel, and events will be made for the fall semester. Our academic teams are fine-tuning innovative plans that will ensure maximum flexibility in alternate delivery options to ensure that each course has a contingency plan, should conditions change. At this time, it is projected that most of our classes will be via flexible remote delivery. For classes needing in-person instruction, classes will be a combination of online and face-to-face delivery.

Unwavering support for our underserved students 

Our commitment to our underserved populations remains stronger than ever. All campuses will continue to provide resources, support, and educational opportunities for underserved students. We understand that some students may not be comfortable with remote learning. We are fully committed to providing technology such as laptops and hot spots to students who need them, along with training and assistance to help ensure success in this new learning environment. Our faculty is sensitized and forthright in engaging students in a mode of learning that many have had no experience in. This is especially true, based on research of our own students, for students of color and quite frankly, males. So far, females are much more experienced and successful in remote learning courses than males, but we aim to balance that.

Small business support continues 

Our communities are built on small businesses that help support our local economy, many of whom turn to Madison College for education and support. Madison College will continue providing entrepreneurial workshops for existing and new small businesses. We will continue to partner with the vast number of agencies and associations dedicated to enhancing community development and an improved quality of life in our communities.

Dreams are still within reach 

I can ensure you personally that Madison College remains here as your partner, friend, and supporter. Even if your plans have changed, your goals are still within reach at Madison College. We are open and ready to assist our students and communities.

Jack E. Daniels, III PhD 
President