CVTC eyes expansion, new leadership in River Falls

RIVER FALLS – Chippewa Valley Technical College is expanding its leadership team at the River Falls campus, in preparation for an expansion of the campus itself.

The College has named Beth Hein campus administrator and dean at River Falls, effective with the start of the spring term this week. Hein had been serving as CVTC’s dean of business and service. Among Hein’s new duties in River Falls will be to direct an expansion of both the physical facilities and program offerings at the 500 S. Wasson Lane campus, which opened in the 1998-99 term.

“Our plan in River Falls is to create a comprehensive campus, one in which all the services available at the Eau Claire campus will be available at the River Falls campus,” said Vice President of Instruction Dr. Roger Stanford.

The size, function, design, cost and financing of the physical expansion have yet to be determined, according to Director of Facilities Doug Olson.

“In 2010, CVTC purchased land adjacent to the campus in anticipation of future expansion needs,” Olson said.  “We will now be doing the research to determine what form the expansion should take.”

The same goes for a planned expansion of programs. CVTC currently offers nine programs through its River Falls campus. That number is likely to grow.

“We are doubling down on River Falls,” said Stanford. “We are adding leadership there, and Hein will do research to define the right program mix for the River Falls area.”

“The St. Croix Valley is one of the fastest-growing areas of the state, and it’s reflected in our growing enrollment at River Falls,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker. “We intend to do more to serve this area of our district, and Beth Hein will be taking a leadership role in working with the people, businesses and industry of the area to determine how we can best meet their needs.”

CVTC, with its main campuses in Eau Claire, serves an 11-county area, including Pierce, Pepin and Dunn counties, and part of St. Croix County. CVTC’s first facility in River Falls was in a former Pizza Hut building downtown. The current campus was built after passage of a $20 million referendum, which included funds for the River Falls campus, plus two facilities in Eau Claire.

Initially, only a nursing program was offered at River Falls. For the 1998-99 term, 899 different students were enrolled, including those in noncredit classes. However, those students made up only the equivalent of 28 full-time students. By the 2003-04 term, 1,054 different students were enrolled, for a full-time equivalent of 154 students. In the 2011-12 term, 1,160 different students made up 318 full-time equivalent students.

“The campus is at 100 percent capacity,” said Stanford. “Every room is booked virtually every hour of the day.”

“It’s going to be an adventure,” Hein said, emphasizing how much she’s looking forward to the new professional challenge. “One of the most exciting things is to get to know the region better and to learn how to meet the needs of the businesses and industry.”

Gaining a better understanding of their needs will drive the decisions on program expansions, which will affect the direction on facilities, Hein said.

This strategy will also serve the students well, Hein added. CVTC works to prepare students for employment in jobs that are available in the local job market.

“I will be doing the research to better align the programs to the employment needs. We want to be sure that whatever we’re adding, there’s a job out there for those students,” Hein said.

The River Falls campus currently offers programs in administrative professional, business management, human resources, marketing management, nursing, nursing assistant, criminal justice, building construction, and liberal arts.

In addition, Hein will be working for further partnerships with other educational institutions that serve the St. Croix Valley, including UW-River Falls, area high schools, and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, which has a campus in New Richmond.

Stanford said the partnerships involve high school students gaining technical college credits for completion of certain classes that meet the College’s standards. Likewise, CVTC students may earn credits transferrable to UW-River Falls and other four-year institutions.

In her previous assignments at CVTC, Hein has already worked on such agreements in the St. Croix Valley.

Hein is also looking forward to forming relationships with the students at the River Falls campus. It’s something she’s used to doing at the Eau Claire campus.

“We work very hard with students who are struggling, letting them know what kinds of services are available to them. We want to see everyone succeed,” Hein said.

“We want to have a dean present to answer student questions and work closely with them to help them succeed. Beth will be there every day to provide help and guidance to students,” Stanford said.

Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.