Press-Republican

Guest Column

April 14, 2013

CV TEC changing at the top

I heard recently that Dr. Barry Mack, CV TEC director, is retiring in June. Along with Clinton Community College, CV TEC plays a critical role in ensuring that area employers have access to a highly trained workforce.

Both schools are key assets in attracting businesses to Clinton County and in ensuring that businesses stay and expand in the region.

Because of the important role CV TEC plays, my hope is that the search committee solicits input from both community and business leaders regarding what skill set the next director should have.

Not that anyone has asked me (or will); so I’ll just offer my input here.

While I’m sure there are arcane and bureaucratic requirements that the person serving as CV TEC director needs to have, my belief is that CV TEC doesn’t need an academician or bureaucrat as its next director.

CV TEC has plenty of each.

What CV TEC needs is a leader, someone entrepreneurial with marketing expertise who is capable of repositioning the school in the minds of parents, guidance counselors and students.

Repositioning an organization isn’t a blue-sky academic exercise, it’s hard work that requires a set of specific skills. Positioning the brand that is CV TEC is about how its customer base (students and employers) view the school. It’s more about what’s important to them, it’s less about what’s important to CV TEC.

Essentially, CV TEC is a proprietary training institution that competes with “traditional” high schools for students in the same way that other businesses compete for customers. CV TEC operates similarly to a for-profit training institution. Its budget is predicated on the number of students who enroll.

And enrollments are down.

Why?

Well, for many, there’s a stigma associated with attending CV TEC. For decades, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and the media have driven home the point that to be “successful” you need to earn a college degree. A bachelor’s degree was the ticket that allowed entry to the middle class. Over the years, attending a “vocational school” became viewed as the place where high-school students went who weren’t doing well enough academically to be accepted at a college or university.

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