MATC President Vicki J. Martin Announces June Retirement

Tenure included dramatic scholarship expansions, impactful partnerships; Board committed to smooth and effective transition

Darryll Fortune,

September 27, 2023

Dr. Vicki J. Martin

MILWAUKEE – After a 10-year tenure bookended by launching groundbreaking scholarships and forging new and impactful partnerships, Milwaukee Area Technical College President Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D. will retire from the college effective June 30, 2024. 

Dr. Martin has provided formal notice to the MATC District Board and will remain fully engaged throughout the 2023-2024 academic year in service to students, employees and college partners. Board Chairperson Mark Foley will lead the District Board to select the next president of MATC. Foley noted that the Board is committed to a smooth and effective search and transition process.

“The entire Board and I congratulate Dr. Martin on all that she has accomplished,” Foley said. “Her visionary leadership has advanced the college’s mission of transforming lives, industry and community. Under her guidance, MATC graduates are ready to enter the workforce, transfer to a four-year college or university — or both.”

Since her presidency began in July 2014, Dr. Martin:

  • Led the creation in 2015 of Wisconsin’s first free-tuition Promise program; 
  • Expanded it to become one of the nation’s first Promise programs to serve working adults;
  • Established the college as the state’s first to offer Second Chance Pell funds to students who are in a correctional facility; 
  • Cofounded M-Cubed to harness the exponential power of Milwaukee Public Schools, MATC and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to transform the future of Milwaukee; 
  • Committed to closing student group performance gaps by 2030 through the groundbreaking EAB Moon Shot for Equity so that all students succeed; and 
  • Launched in 2022 the college’s first-ever full-ride scholarship, the Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program, supported by the largest scholarship fund in MATC history. 

Through launching the MATC Promise, the Checota MATC Scholarship Program, the $6-million Froedtert Memorial Hospital Scholarship and more, Dr. Martin helped the college dramatically expand student scholarships supported by the college’s philanthropic partner, the MATC Foundation. In 2013-14, the Foundation issued $251,705 in scholarships to 391 students. By 2022-23, that grew to an incredible $1.8 million in scholarships to 2,290 students. Since its launch, the Promise programs have graduated more than 600 students and in its first year alone, the Checota MATC Scholarship Program has graduated nearly 200 students. 

By expanding partnerships through M-Cubed and with other local public, charter and private high schools, Dr. Martin led MATC to more than triple the number of dual enrollment credits earned by local high school students at MATC from 4,494 in 2013-14 to 15,801 in 2021-22. 

And by ensuring programs are responsive to employer needs, Dr. Martin grew the percentage of MATC students employed in their field from 71% in 2013-14 to 78% in 2021-22. 

Throughout her tenure, she has received several recognitions for her leadership including: Power Brokers (Milwaukee Business Journal, 2023, 2020), Wisconsin 275 - The State’s Most Influential Business Leaders (BizTimes, 2022), TEMPO Mentor Award (2017), and Women of Influence - Educational Leadership (Milwaukee Business Journal, 2016).

“This month, I celebrated my 35th year at Milwaukee Area Technical College, and it has been an honor to serve this college in many ways over that time. During my first week of employment, I knew that I had come to the right place,” Dr. Martin said. “My professional goals and the college’s mission were perfectly aligned around students and their success. My pride is fueled by the remarkable accomplishments we have achieved together and the value we provide to students, employers and the community we serve.”

A Milwaukee native and first-generation college student, she holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, master's degrees from the University of North Dakota (counseling and guidance) and Cardinal Stritch University (business management), and a doctorate degree in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The Board will lead a national search. A request for proposals for an external search firm will be developed in the coming weeks,” Chairperson Foley said. “The Board anticipates finalizing and announcing the selection of the new president during the spring so that this new leader can take the helm effective July 1, 2024.”

Other notable MATC accomplishments through Dr. Martin’s leadership include:

  • Establishing an internal Leadership Academy with six cohorts participating and an emerging leader cohort to come;
  • Opening the Student Resource Center and food pantries at all four campuses plus Walker’s Square;
  • Housing nearly 200 students each year at Westown Green to combat housing insecurity;
  • Beautifying campuses with art, sculptures and student-centered learning and collaboration spaces;
  • Helping 500 students relieve their debts and return to college through MATC ReStart; 
  • Forgiving $5 million in past student debt for 6,000+ students using institutional pandemic relief funds; 
  • Implementing the nationally recognized Guided Pathways model, helping improve our retention rates, including by 7 percentage points in the last year;
  • Leading the Higher Education Regional Alliance, bringing together all 17 colleges and universities in the seven-county Milwaukee region; 
  • Leading the Bradley Tech Commission and implementing an early college model to help students access more career exploration and college-level credits; 
  • Successfully executing college-wide and program-level accreditation to ensure value to MATC credentials, transferability of courses and student access to financial aid;
  • Balancing the college’s budget annually even amid challenging circumstances and improving our bond rating; and  
  • Navigating the college through the health, instructional, financial and other impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

ABOUT MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. Nearly 28,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 180 academic programs; and transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.