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Let's Soar to New Heights in 2018-2019

Welcome Address by Ann Bolman, Ed.D., Western Dakota Tech President
Welcome back to campus, everyone! I am excited for the upcoming school year because we have hit some major Western Dakota Tech targets and have what feels like a fresh start for the future.

The first target we hit was to get back in solid standing with the Higher Learning Commission. Since I started here in 2015, we have been working hard to hit that target, and we did it — with no follow up reports and with no “met with concerns” indicated. In short, we had a perfect score on our efforts. Excellent work! 

The second target we hit was to make the Honor Roll on the Great Colleges to Work For survey. Again, we did it! We received the Honor Roll recognition because we diligently worked on improving communication, made key adjustments to support for faculty and staff, and are committed to creating a workplace where we get a lot of work done, but take time to have a little fun and recognize people for their incredible efforts and excellence. 

The third target we hit centers on understanding the key economic role of Western Dakota Tech in the regional economy. Our data shows our students’ return-on-investment in their education here is significant — and their overall earnings impact was a quarter of a billion dollars over the past 10 years — higher than if they had decided to just stick with their high school education level. In short, our graduates earn roughly $10,000 more per year than a high school graduate, and the cost of education here is significantly less than that of students going to universities. (Plus, our retention and graduation rates are much better.) Our graduates (88%, anyway) tend to stay in western South Dakota, too.

Understanding the significance of Western Dakota Tech as a regional technical college is key for the organization’s future success because we accomplished a ton throughout the past three years, but we still have a ton of work to do.

We still have about 4,000 students that we should be helping each year who are currently unable to access Western Dakota Tech’s programs. We have to figure out how to overcome those barriers — and there are many. Distance, cost, the right program fit, being a first-generation student, being underprepared for technical college, and other barriers popped into my head immediately.

However, we have proven we are a very creative, caring, intelligent, focused, and resilient group of employees. I am confident that, in partnership with others in the region, we can overcome these barriers and help more people gain access to our outstanding programs. Employers and graduates will benefit immediately, and we’ll see increasing prosperity in the region. Because this is such a great place to live and work, our efforts are worth it!

We have the key people in place to make this happen — each one of you! It will be very exciting to see how our efforts will unfold over the upcoming year!

 Have a great year!

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