Changing lives. Building futures.
Those are the buzzwords on the website of Lakeshore Technical College, based in Cleveland.
A college since 1967, it was called Lakeshore Technical Institute prior to that. The institution first began training students in the trades in 1912 in Manitowoc and in 1913 in Sheboygan. Wednesday was declared Lakeshore Technical College Day in Wisconsin by Gov. Scott Walker, in honor of the school's 100th anniversary.
The main campus in Cleveland opened in 1974. Prior to that, education was provided at smaller centers in Manitowoc and Sheboygan. The key to the continued growth and success of LTC has been the ability to adapt to the changing needs of students and employers. If employers needed workers, LTC (or LTI before that) could literally create a program to meet the need.
"If there's a need in the community we come up with it," paralegal program instructor Richard Opie said during a special ceremony at the school last week to mark the anniversary.
From accounting to welding, the school has graduated or trained thousands of people over the past century. Most gained meaningful employment, and the school's job placement rate continues today near the 80 percent plateau within a year of graduation. That is a very good rate considering the overall economy has been less than cooperative in recent years.
There was a time when a stigma was attached to attending technical school. Is was seen as inferior to a "real" college education. Schools like LTC, and some others in the Wisconsin technical school system, have removed that stigma and created an environment where obtaining a technical degree is itself a sign of distinction.
And the cost is often much less than a traditional four-year course of study. LTC has proven a lifeline to success for thousands in the Lakeshore area communities in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties, and for many from beyond that area as well.
LTC has been able to adapt to changing demographics over the years as well. Once the bastion for post-high school students who chose not to go to "college," it now serves a wide variety of people. The average age of an LTC student in 2010, the latest statistics available, was 32. Many are there to reinvent careers cut short by the economy or circumstance, and LTC has a wide variety of programs to meet those needs.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention a pair of long-time administrators who drove LTC forward since it became a technical college. Fred Neirode was president from 1967-88 and Dennis Ladwig from 1988 to 2003, when current president Mike Lanser took over.
Neirode arguably had the toughest job in transitioning the institution to college status, but the change was relatively seemless. He and Ladwig after him moved LTC to the forefront of the Wisconsin technical college system, to an institution we all can view with pride.
Lanser continues in their shoes and has LTC well positioned for a future that will continue to change lives and build futures.