Wednesday, December 16, 2020

CVTC President Barker Announces Retirement

College’s leader reflects on two decades of commitment to community impact

Article Photo - CVTC President Barker Announces Retirement

Eau Claire, WI – After twenty-one years of service to the Chippewa Valley Technical College district, President Bruce Barker has announced his retirement. 

At the regular meeting of the CVTC Board on Tuesday, Dec. 15, the board voted to hire The Association of Community College Trustees executive search division to assist with the selection of the next CVTC president. Barker will retire effective July 1, 2021.

Over the past 12 years as president, Barker has been at the center of efforts to meet the region's workforce needs, a vital part of the mission of CVTC. Barker joined CVTC in 1999 as director of human resources and became vice president of operations the following year. In 2008, he was selected as the 10th president of CVTC.

“Being part of the CVTC team has been a wonderful experience and privilege,” Barker said in his announcement to employees Tuesday evening. “I will always be extremely proud and grateful for what we have accomplished. CVTC provides our students with options, hope, direction and the skills and confidence to succeed. We provide our communities with essential workers, experts in every field, entrepreneurs and leaders.”

Barker counts CVTC’s increased impact on the community as his greatest accomplishment. During his tenure, the country experienced the worst recession in 60 years. In response, “CVTC was able to bring millions of grant dollars home to the Chippewa Valley to train displaced workers and get them back to work, which, in some instances, saved families’ homes,” Barker reflected.

The importance of close alignment with employers across the district continues to be a primary area of emphasis for Barker and the college. “Our students are best served by programs that end in a job description,” Barker said.

This direct alignment with business and industry partners played a critical role in expanding programming at the College during Barker’s presidency, which has more than doubled during his tenure. CVTC currently offers 118 programs, 38 certificates, and 13 apprenticeships. These new programs brought on under Barker’s leadership, include gas utility construction and service, culinary management, practical nurse and graphic design.

Maximizing the student experience through new programming, international fairs, study abroad programs and the initiation of the Phi Theta Kappa student international honor society are some examples of progress under Barker’s leadership.

“Bruce has had his steady hand on the rudder of CVTC for twelve years and has steered the college to new heights,” said Kirk Moist, vice president of finance. “Our academic programs, student outcomes, faculty and staff and facilities are all top shelf, and I have witnessed Bruce’s influence.” 

Barker has ensured that the learning environment for CVTC students is relevant, efficient and safe. That became more important when the COVID-19 crisis struck, forcing many instructional approaches. Working with his leadership team, Barker ensured that quality CVTC instruction would go on, always emphasizing safety.

Under Barker’s leadership, CVTC expanded the Manufacturing Education Center, created CVTC’s Applied Technology Center, and constructed the innovative Energy Education Center and the Fire Safety Center.

With voter approval of a $48.8 million referendum in April, construction of a new Transportation Education Center, addition and remodeling of the Emergency Services Education Center, an automated fabrication addition to the Manufacturing Education Center, and property expansion at the River Falls location will also be part of Barker’s legacy.

“The dominant thing about Bruce is that he cares deeply about other people,” Moist said. “This comes through whether in his speech about the impact that CVTC graduates have on every aspect of life in the Valley or in his recollection of Officer Bolton and the sacrifices that our law enforcement community make every day.”

“The CVTC board will greatly miss Bruce and the tremendous difference he makes at CVTC,” said Paul Bauer, president of the CVTC Board. “His guidance and innovative perspective will be difficult to replace and we wish him all the best in this new chapter of his journey.”

A graduate of Marquette University Law School, Bruce specialized in labor, employment, government, and education law. Prior to joining CVTC, Bruce served as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Eau Claire, was an associate in the Mulcahy and Wherry, S.C. law firm, and then Vice President of Human Resources and Legal Counsel for Mayo Health System in Eau Claire. 

After retirement, Barker looks forward to enjoying more time with family and a post-pandemic Eau Claire. “The great quality of life we enjoy here in the Chippewa Valley is a direct result of the education we provide at CVTC.  I am confident that the team at CVTC will deliver on this promise now and into the future!”

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