The interim dean who has led the School of Business and Applied Arts at Madison Area Technical College for nine months has been selected to be dean.
Erin Kohl, who filled the position vacated by Bryan Woodhouse in July after Woodhouse became an associate vice president, has accepted the permanent position, Provost Turina Bakken announced at a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday.
During her tenure as an associate dean, Kohl played a major role in creating the college’s Center for Entrepreneurship along with Woodhouse, Bakken said. Prior to her work at MATC, Kohl held several positions at Lakeland College.
“It’s pretty rare that you find someone that has (a background in) student services, marketing, faculty experience and administration in academics,” Bakken said.
As dean, Kohl will oversee a school that offers credentials in about 50 programs, Bakken said, from barber cosmetology to accounting and from animation to culinary arts.
The school also contains several enterprises — such as the TruStyle Salon, the bakery and the Gourmet Dining Room — which generate revenue for the school’s programs. Students participating in these enterprises get first-hand experience running and working in businesses while they earn their degrees, Bakken said.
Kohl will lead the school as it continues updating its learning tools and programs and methods of interacting with students.
“We’re really building … a culture of innovation, of really being on the cutting edge,” Bakken said.
Also on Wednesday, the Board of Trustees approved a new, two-year associate degree program for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.
Area businesses expressed a growing need for industrial mechanics trained in HVAC and refrigeration, according to Randy Way, associate dean of the School of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology.
“This is an effort to realign our academic portfolio and meet those needs of industries,” Way said.
Currently, MATC students can earn an HVAC certificate in a one-year program, but Way said a two-year program is needed to fully train students.
“HVAC equipment has just become much, much more complex,” Way said.
The need for HVAC and refrigeration technicians is expected to grow as the workforce ages. Locally, the field is expected to grow at 9.7 percent compared to the national average of 8 percent. About 35 percent of the county’s 800 mechanics are over age 45, and to replace workers as they retire over the next 10 years, MATC estimates that 278 mechanics would need to be trained.
Way said skilled mechanics also will be needed for the planned Foxconn liquid crystal display panel factory in Mount Pleasant.
“The workforce that it’s going to take to keep a facility like that functioning is going to be extensive,” Way said.