Western Technical College's fall term will get underway in less than a month and for the first time in 28 years, it won't be under the leadership of Lee Rasch.
Roger Stanford, who spent two years as WTC's Vice President of Academic Affairs, was named president in April. After spending 25 years in education, he said it's something he has become passionate about.
"In our current economy, people need graduates from a technical college more than ever before," he said. "So to be part of that mission is pretty amazing."
Stanford said the shortage of skilled labor in Wisconsin can be felt in Coulee Region, as employers struggle to recruit workers from out of the area.
"We can't put enough graduates in our electro-mechanical programs and several other apprenticeships," he said. "If somebody wants to work, there is a job for them right now."
John Heath, director of human resources, said the final decision was difficult, but believes the board made the best decision.
"I've really seen a person in Roger who is not only dedicated to the system, but the college as well," Heath said. "He's not a president who might just stay around for a few years and then go somewhere else."
Stanford said a major shift in attitude toward technical colleges is signaling increasing popularity for students coming out of high school.
"We get about 25 percent of high school students from surrounding high schools in our area," he said. "People used to look at technical college and say it was "less than" but not anymore."
The ability to get a degree and take on less student debt is also something he believes is changing the landscape of technical college.
"Our graduates get a great value for their education but beyond that, they're able to pay toward their student loan debt because they're in good paying jobs," he said. "That's not always the case for some recent graduates at four year universities."
WTC's fall term begins Sept. 5.