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School of Business’s Marketing program celebrates 50 years!

Program continues to evolve with the changing times


In the late 1960s, College administrators and a Real Estate instructor of then-Waukesha County Technical Institute (WCTI) realized the growing need for a program that would prepare students for jobs in advertising, market research, retail, sales and the like.

The field of marketing was poised for expansion, and College leaders began researching and developing courses that could prepare workers for these types of careers. Four instructors were hired, more than a dozen students signed up -- and so began the Marketing program in the 1969-70 academic year.

Marketing’s early years

John Lavin was one of the four original instructors hired to teach in the program. He was a member of the WCTI/Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) faculty for 42 years and taught marketing, advertising and business law classes.

“My favorite class was Marketing Principles. It gives you all the basics for what you need to do in the field, and it’s one that every student has to take,” he said. “I got to see just about every (Marketing) student.”

When the program started, Lavin said students were not accustomed to classes of this type being available at a technical school.

“Back then, people knew WCTI only as a trade school; a place where people in blue-collar jobs could get training,” he said. “We had about 15 students in that first year, and they were excited to be a part of something new.”

Shortly after the traditional Marketing program began, the College added niche programs in Fashion Marketing, Food Marketing and Retail Management.

The marketing club also grew -- first the Wisconsin Marketing Management Association, then Delta Epsilon Chi and now WCTC Collegiate DECA – which allowed students to hone their skills, participate in conferences and compete in events.

“Our students had done very well; they won a lot of awards in those competitions,” Lavin said, noting current students continue to shine at state and national DECA events.

Course offerings expanded through the years to reflect what was needed in industry at the time, and the use of technology became a mainstay of the program.

“Things got a lot more sophisticated,” Lavin said. “There was a lot more computer use in later years and that has become a regular part of (students’) education.”

The present-day Marketing program

Fast forward 50 years, and around 2,000 graduates later,and the program continues to grow, says Ann Mack, Marketing instructor and DECA advisor.

“Since the WCTC Marketing program is well known for producing graduates with relevant skills, it’s not surprising that Marketing program courses consistently evolve to meet the changing technical and creative needs of area businesses,” she said.

This includes a new Experiential Marketing course set to begin in spring 2019, and the Digital Marketing technical diploma, which is in development and will likely begin in fall 2020 – pending state approval.

As a complement to the main Marketing program, students are also encouraged to pursue specialized certificates, such as Global Marketing, Marketing Leadership and Innovation, Marketing Management, Marketing Media and Social Media Marketing.

“Although career-ready, many WCTC graduates have found that taking advantage of Marketing certificates provides an excellent way to further enhance their skills and put them ahead of the job-seeking pack,” Mack added.

Grads credit WCTC with their career success

Graduates have gone on to build successful careers in the field and have secured jobs as managers, business leaders, advertising and marketing executives, sales professionals and entrepreneurs within Southeastern Wisconsin.

Korin DuPont, who earned her Marketing degree in 2009 along with a Marketing Management certificate, is one such alumna. Since graduating from WCTC 10 years ago, she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Professional Communication from Marquette University, served both a college and professional internship at the Walt Disney Company, and has held positions of increasing responsibility at different companies, including marketing specialist, senior marketing analyst, social media manager among others.

“WCTC was truly a great experience for me,” DuPont said. “I am still in contact with some of the instructors and previous deans. They really do take the time to invest in their students. My experience and education at WCTC has been the foundation of my career that has brought me continued success.”

Celebrate the Marketing program’s 50 years!

A celebration is set for Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee, Wis., from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for students and $35 for general admission. Proceeds support the Marketing Leadership Program–WCTC Foundation account, which helps cover costs associated with field trips, industry panel presentations, Collegiate DECA initiatives and conferences, and other dynamic learning experiences outside the classroom.

For details, and to purchase tickets, visit