The MATC Story

The MATC Story

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MATC is transforming lives, industry and our community by preparing students today for the careers of tomorrow. Along with our industry partners, we are redefining the future of higher education to create an affordable, accessible path to family-sustaining employment and career advancement. Instead of just talking about the skills gap, the college is leading the efforts to educate the students who will help close it.

MATC has a diverse student population with 57% of enrollees identifying as students of color. While our average student is 29 years old, the college also is experiencing growth in students entering MATC right after high school graduation.

We offer more than 170 associate degree, technical diploma, certificate and apprenticeship programs to connect students to a career in as little as one to two years.

The college also offers a less expensive path to a bachelor’s degree – students can transfer eligible MATC credits to our four-year college and university partners.

Our programs are grouped into seven Academic and Career Pathways:

  • Business & Management
  • Community & Human Services
  • Creative Arts, Design & Media
  • General Education
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing, Construction & Transportation
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

Transforming Lives

The college serves more than 30,000 students each year. Students attend MATC because they want high quality, virtual and hands-on learning in small classes led by industry-expert instructors. MATC has  convenient locations across the Milwaukee area.

  • 94% of MATC grads are employed within six months
  • Average wages six months after graduation are $44,464 for technical diploma grads and $52,280 for associate degree grads
  • Our associate degree grads earn an average of $418,100 more in lifetime income compared to someone with a high school diploma alone

Building the Workforce

building_the_workforce_th.pngMATC has proven results, local impact and a strong return on investment. Through partnership, we are closing the skills gap and addressing economic disparities. Find out more in this brief overview, Building the Workforce.

MATC graduates 3,330+ students each year who are ready to enter the workforce on day one. That is due in part to more than 900 employer advisors who work with MATC's programs to help keep curriculum current.

The college also helps students attain bachelor's degrees at a lower cost – 1,840+ students transferred to a four-year college or university who were enrolled in an MATC program in 2018-19.

MATC and our students generate $1.5 billion in annual economic impact in the district we serve – all of Milwaukee County, most of Ozaukee County and small portions of Waukesha and Washington counties – according to respected labor market analytics firm Emsi.

The MATC Promise

In 2015, MATC started the first Promise program in Wisconsin, using a unique public-private partnership model to provide free tuition for eligible high school seniors pursuing college. We use federal and state financial aid and then leverage private donations for a last-dollar scholarship to fill the gap between what tuition costs and what aid covers.

More than 230 private donors have given to date. 

In 2018, MATC expanded the Promise, launching one of the very first college-based Promise for Adults programs in the nation. The MATC Promise for Adults uses the same public-private partnership model to help adults with some college credits but no degree complete their college education. We tied the program to the top 50 in-demand careers in the state.

Our MATC Promise programs are designed to create access – tearing down barriers and opening the doors to college for students who never thought it would be possible for them.

Since we launched the Promise programs, we have done just that. The college has served more than 1,900 eligible students – and already, 229 students have completed 292 associate degrees/technical diplomas/certificates.

Student Ready

While the MATC Promise creates access, the college is using the nationally recognized Guided Pathways model to create more success. The American Association of Community Colleges’ Guided Pathways model is helping us redesign the student experience so that more students find the right program for them, stay in college and graduate ready to start a career, transfer to a four-year institution or both.

Guided Pathways also will help MATC eliminate equity gaps so more students of color and more students from low-income households can achieve their dreams.

To remove barriers to education, the college replaced a high-stakes intake assessment with a more holistic approach to determining the support incoming students need.

The seven Academic & Career Pathways bring together academic programs and services in one team to support all students. This includes providing assistance so a student stays on track academically and also nonacademic supports to address needs such as housing, food and transportation.

To support this new student experience, MATC reorganized its overall structure in 2019-20, including a new, integrated academics and student services team that models the integrated support found in each Pathway.

FLEXIBLE LEARNING OPTIONS Fit Student Needs

MATC offers day, evening and weekend classes. Courses include 16-week, 12-week and eight-week options to provide students with flexible start dates. A pioneer in online learning, MATC offers a selection of programs entirely online, plus hundreds of online courses.

Our four full-service campuses are:

  • Downtown Milwaukee Campus, 700 West State Street
  • Mequon Campus, 5555 West Highland Road
  • Oak Creek Campus, 6665 South Howell Avenue
  • West Allis Campus, 1200 South 71st Street

In addition, the college is proud to offer the MATC Education Center at Walker’s Square, 816 West National Avenue, Milwaukee.

The college is an open-enrollment institution, meaning we accept all who want to learn. For those who need to strengthen their academic skills to prepare for college work, MATC offers a variety of paths to complete high school and enter college, including through partnerships with community-based organizations.

Sustainability Initiatives

MATC has been recognized as a national pioneer in sustainability efforts and green technology initiatives.

In 2016, the college received a Climate Leadership Honorable Mention Award from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council in partnership with Second Nature. The award recognizes innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability and climate change mitigation among two-year and four-year colleges/universities.

MATC also was a local leader in wind technology. The Mequon Campus has one of the largest wind turbines on a Wisconsin college campus. The 90-kilowatt, V-17 turbine supplies power directly to the Mequon Campus, providing about 8% of the campus’s electricity. The Mequon Campus also has a photovoltaic system with rooftop and pole-mounted units.

In April 2021, new geothermal systems began operation at the Oak Creek Campus. These systems collect natural heat from underground and carry the heat indoors. Expected to provide a 30% energy savings, these systems also give our Manufacturing, Construction & Transportation and STEM Pathway students firsthand experience.

MATC students and local firms and their employees also benefit from instruction provided at the center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM) at the Oak Creek Campus. The center is home to a 3.5-kilowatt wind turbine, three solar photovoltaic systems and a solar-thermal energy system.

Partnerships to Promote Success

  • Through M3 (pronounced M-cubed), MATC partners with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) to transform the future of Milwaukee through education
  • To help address the state’s nursing shortage, a $2.3 million grant from United Health Foundation, announced in January 2017, has enabled MATC to significantly expand its registered nursing program
  • A challenge grant announced in March 2017 helped expand programs related to automotive careers including programs held in the new Al Hurvis/PEAK Transportation Center at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus, which opened in October 2019
  • MATC is Wisconsin's first college to offer Second Chance Pell financial aid to students leaving incarceration; 94% of students found work after release
  • MATC is part of the first group of colleges nationwide to join the Moon Shot for Equity, a partnership to eliminate equity gaps in graduation rates
  • In 2020, we launched the MATC Center for University Partnerships & Studies to provide access to four-year degrees on our campuses with Lakeland University as our first partner

Milwaukee PBS: A COMMUNITY RESOURCE

The MATC District Board is the license holder for Milwaukee PBS, WMVS and WMVT, and digital channels 10.1-10.3 and 36.1-36.3. The station produces several ongoing local series and airs numerous specials and miniseries throughout the year, in addition to noncommercial education and entertainment programs. Milwaukee PBS:

  • Has an average of 627,770 weekly viewers
  • Reaches as far south as northern Illinois, west into Jefferson County and north into Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties
  • Serves as the hands-on training facility for MATC students in the Television and Video Production associate degree program

Funding and Governance

As a member of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), we operate according to the system’s policies and procedures. MATC relies on three primary funding sources – student tuition, district property tax and state support. The WTCS Board sets annual tuition and fees for MATC and our 15 sister colleges. District boards maintain local control and levy property taxes.

MATC has a strong Aa1 bond rating from Moody’s Investors Service.

Dr. Vicki J. Martin, MATC’s 10th president, and her staff report directly to the MATC District Board, which oversees the college's operations and finances. The board meets monthly and has nine citizen volunteer members. They serve three-year terms and are appointed by a committee of the Milwaukee County Executive, Milwaukee County Board Chairperson, Ozaukee County Board Chairperson and Washington County Board Chairperson.

The District Board structure ensures diversity and a voice for key stakeholders; one advisory, nonvoting seat is designated for the Student Senate. This cost-effective, proven system of governance facilitates professional management, guarantees local accountability and insulates the college from special interests.

MATC History

Reformist Roots

MATC owes its beginnings largely to Wisconsin social reformer Charles McCarthy. Outraged by the child labor of his era, McCarthy in 1911 urged the State Legislature to pass a law creating a statewide network of continuation schools. Employers for the first time were required to release boys and girls from work to attend school or learn a vocation. The same right was accorded for the first time to trade apprentices. (Boys could be indentured with as little as a third-grade education.)

Led by founding director Robert L. Cooley, the Milwaukee Continuation School began classes in fall 1912 at the Manufacturers’ Home Building on Mason Street and at the Stroh Building south of the Post Office. These makeshift classrooms soon became overcrowded, and city leaders authorized construction of a permanent school at the corner of Sixth and State streets. The first section of the Main Building opened in 1920. Its completion and the consolidation of classes took eight more years. The new school was called Milwaukee Vocational School to reflect its training mission.

From its earliest days, Milwaukee Vocational School offered evening classes taught by industry professionals, using the same equipment students would encounter on the job. Cooley called this “practical learning,” a term that survives. It began with the need to serve a population of people from many different backgrounds, all of whom wanted learning that would directly advance their lives.

Then as now at MATC, working professionals dominated the ranks of evening faculty. In response to popular demand from various neighborhoods, a system of branch evening schools quickly emerged.

Creation of a Junior College
The Great Depression saw the development of a high school completion program and a junior college. The school’s new director, William Raasche, had a visionary idea: Students would take college transfer courses in the morning and occupational classes in the afternoon. That way, when the economy improved, they would be prepared to enter the job market immediately, while preserving their option to continue learning. The first credit transfer partner was the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
War Years

World War II transformed Milwaukee Vocational into a training center for defense workers. The Army Signal Corps set up a training unit on campus. The school ran day and night, seven days a week, facilitating the entry of large numbers of women and African Americans into the industrial workforce for the first time. When the war ended, returning servicemen flooded the traditional apprentice programs, but the demand for tradespeople already was declining relative to technicians.

The sudden influx of adult learners led the college to change its name to Milwaukee Vocational and Adult School in 1948.

Milwaukee Institute of Technology

In the postwar period, military technology – from radar to computers – rapidly changed the way Americans lived and worked. Answering a demand for a new kind of worker with new sets of skills, Milwaukee Vocational launched a series of technical programs that led to the creation of the Milwaukee Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1951.

MIT was a parallel unit spun off to house two-year associate degree programs, a forerunner of today’s MATC. In 1959, MIT gained accreditation as a college.

The Dawn of Public Television

MIT helped link TV to education when closed-circuit television instruction began from a laboratory on the Main Building’s sixth floor in 1950.

Locally and nationally, Milwaukee Mayor Frank Zeidler led the fight to set aside VHF channels for public television. In 1952 the Federal Communications Commission licensed Milwaukee Channel 10 to MIT. Five years later, Channel 10 WMVS inaugurated the first educational TV broadcasts in Wisconsin, with teachers hired from Milwaukee Public Schools, teaching MPS courses.

Era of Growth

The 1960s saw rapid changes. In 1964, the Milwaukee Vocational and Adult School added “Technical” to its name. Four years later, it recombined with the Milwaukee Institute of Technology to become the new Milwaukee Technical College.

Led by Wisconsin Gov. Warren Knowles, the Legislature by this time had decided to replace the small, independent vocational schools with regional colleges that would equalize the funding among all constituent communities and function as centralized authorities.

In 1969, metro Milwaukee’s vocational schools merged into Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) as the 16th member of the new Vocational, Technical and Adult Education System (now the Wisconsin Technical College System). MATC’s district includes all of Milwaukee County, the southern two-thirds of Ozaukee County and portions of Waukesha and Washington counties.

The former West Allis Vocational School, remodeled and expanded, became what is now the West Allis Campus of MATC. Simultaneously, MATC built new regional campuses in Oak Creek and Mequon, which opened in 1976.

Going Digital

In 1992, in partnership with Zenith Corp. and AT&T, Channel 10 produced the nation’s first test broadcast of a digital television signal. In March 2000, the station became the first in Wisconsin to begin regular broadcast of digital, high-definition programs. Sister station WMVS-TV, Channel 36, launched the state’s first multi-channel, 24-hour, high-definition broadcasts. The stations began all-digital broadcasting in 2009.

MATC entered the wireless digital era in 2003, becoming the first college in Wisconsin to provide wireless internet service throughout all campuses.

Online learning opportunities at MATC continue to grow, fueled by increasing demand from students.

Serving the Growing Hispanic Community

Working with its Office of Bilingual Education, MATC supported the region’s growing Hispanic population with the development of an array of bilingual courses for Hispanic students, including Early Childhood Education associate degree and Dental Assistant, Nursing Assistant and Child Care Services technical diploma programs.

MATC also designed condensed Spanish language courses for service professionals needing bilingual skills.

Supported by a charitable consortium led by the Gates Foundation, we were partners in Milwaukee’s first two early-college, bilingual high schools, designed to put at-risk Hispanic students on a college track.

In 2019, the college announced its intention to become a Hispanic-Serving Institution or HSI. Earning the HSI designation will bring financial Title V resources that help to improve student services; provide innovative instruction that helps retain students; support partnerships with four-year colleges; and provide education, counseling and financial information to help improve financial literacy.

Health Programs Expand
MATC has responded to the region’s increased needs for health care professionals throughout its history. A dramatic rise in the demand to fill health care jobs in the 1980s-'90s led to the opening of the Health Sciences Building at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus in 1996. The facility is dedicated to teaching a full range of health occupations using the latest technology. MATC has become one of the state’s foremost providers of entry-level, bedside nurses. The program has grown thanks to a grant from the United Health Foundation, announced in 2017.
Great Recession and Enrollment
During the severe recession of 2009-10, full-time program enrollments increased by more than 10%. These Great Recession enrollment increases rank among the college’s largest in 25 years. Since that time, unemployment has declined sharply, resulting in reduced enrollment at MATC and at two-year colleges throughout the nation. Innovative programs such as the MATC Promise, which provides free tuition for eligible students through a public-private partnership, have helped stabilize enrollment in recent years.
Rapid Advancements in Digital Technology Occupations

Responding to the growing demand for professionals with skills in the interactive electronic technologies, the college created what is now the Creative Arts, Design & Media Academic & Career Pathway. Associate degree and technical diploma programs developed include Animation, Audio Production, Computer Simulation and Gaming, eProduction and Front-End Web Developer.

Dedicated to student success, responsive to rapidly changing job market needs and strengthened by continuous quality improvement, MATC continues to transform lives, industry and our community.