Pride and Joy: MATC Shines for Wisconsin Technical College System President

Visit part of statewide tour aimed at recognizing and celebrating technical college students, staff and communities

Mark Feldmann,

May 02, 2024

Morna Foy Visit 2024
Morna Foy Visit 2024
Morna Foy Visit 2024
Morna Foy Visit 2024
Morna Foy Visit 2024
Morna Foy Visit 2024

The demand for skilled labor has never been higher. Technical colleges continue to provide skilled professionals to fill these positions, and I am very proud of that.

Morna Foy, Ph.D. President, Wisconsin Technical College System

MILWAUKEE – Dr. Morna Foy had herself a full, fruitful and fun day at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Dr. Foy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System which oversees the state’s 16 technical colleges, changed a tire with her bare hands in MATC’s state-of-the art automotive center, shot baskets with an award-winning men’s basketball player, and feasted on food prepared by Culinary Arts students.

“Like I always say: My favorite technical college is the one I’m visiting,” Dr. Foy said with a laugh while wearing a bright blue MATC Stormers hoodie.

Dr. Foy came to MATC’s Downtown Milwaukee Campus on Wednesday, May 1, as a stop on her “Tour of Excellence,” in which she visits each of the state’s WTCS colleges. 

The goal of the tour, which kicked off last November, is to recognize and celebrate the technical college students, staff, instructors, alumni and business partners who make each campus unique places of purpose in their communities.

Dr. Foy is retiring her post in June after more than 25 years in higher education policy development and leadership. 

After meeting MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin and other college administrators, Dr. Foy toured the spacious Al Hurvis/PEAK Transportation Center, the result of a unique public-private partnership supporting transportation servicing programs.

Dr. Foy got her hands dirty under the watchful eye of Automotive Maintenance Technician students Martin Kennedy and Dylan Esparaza. She loosened the lug nuts of a car tire with a power tool, removed the tire and put it back on, making sure the nuts were tight using a torque wrench.

“This is a great example of the amazing partnerships technical colleges have with businesses in the community and employers in the region,” Dr. Foy said. “It’s also a great example of the power of technical education.”

While some question the value of a college education, total enrollment at the state’s 16 technical colleges has increased each of the past three years, Dr. Foy said. WTCS serves more than 270,000 students each year.

“The demand for skilled labor has never been higher,” she said. “Technical colleges continue to provide skilled professionals to fill these positions, and I am very proud of that.”

Helping MATC to bolster the region’s workforce is the full-ride Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program. The college used Dr. Foy’s visit as an opportunity to highlight the scholarship and promote that applications are being accepted through June 7 for the Fall 2024 semester.

The Checota scholarship, which is designed to help students earn a short-term certificate or diploma and get into the workforce within 18 months, covers tuition, course fees, books and required supplies/equipment, child care, food, transportation, and student housing, if needed.

The Checota MATC Scholarship Program launched in August 2022. Since then, more than 1,000 students have received scholarships and more than 400 have graduated

“This has become a remarkable program,” said Dr. Martin, “The scholarship has helped so many students by removing a financial barrier. Students in the Checota program have higher grade point averages, higher retention rates and get the resources they need to succeed.”

After visiting the Hurvis Center, Dr. Foy, who played soccer while a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, went to the gymnasium in the basement of MATC’s M Building and talked to several Stormers athletes. 

She gamely tried to defend men’s basketball player Shelton Williams-Dryden, the first MATC player named to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II All-America first team. He dunked on her three times, but she also made a nice alley-oop pass to him to set up another slam dunk.

Before leaving for lunch at Cuisine, the fine dining restaurant operated by students in MATC’s highly regarded Culinary Arts program, Dr. Foy found her form. She scored a goal with a nifty backheel kick against women’s soccer player Lizzy Calixto. 

After the ball hit the back of the net, Dr. Foy, thrust her hands in the air in victory.

“Actually,” she said. “I wish I could just stay down here and do this all day.”

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. More than 30,000 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 — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide 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.

About the Wisconsin Technical College System: The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) offers more than 300 programs awarding two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas. In addition, the System is the major provider of customized training and technical assistance to Wisconsin’s business and industry community. More than 270,000 individuals access the technical colleges for education and training each year.