Waukesha County Technical College District Board of Trustees names Richard Barnhouse new College president
Top WCTC administrator to begin Jan. 5, 2021
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020) – The Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) District Board of Trustees Nov. 10 approved the hiring of Richard (Rich) Barnhouse, Ph.D., as the next president of Waukesha County Technical College. He will begin his new role on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, and he succeeds Kaylen Betzig, who will retire at the end of December.
“The WCTC District Board recognized, in this state of constant change, it was very important to search for a leader who brought with them multiple experiences and an eclectic background, and that’s something Rich possesses,” said David Lancaster, board chair. “We are very pleased and highly confident in his ability to provide dynamic leadership to WCTC, collaborate with the business community, meet the needs of students and move the College forward.”
Barnhouse is currently the vice president of Student Services and Enrollment Management at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, and brings with him nearly 20 years of progressive higher education experience.
Prior to working at State College of Florida, he served as associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at the University of Wisconsin Colleges from 2011 to 2016, dean of students at Moraine Park Technical College from 2007 to 2011, and assistant campus dean for Administrative Services at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan from 2004 to 2007. Additionally, he worked as the assistant director for Facilities – Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina from 2003-2004, and the assistant director for Operations – Student Affairs at Rice University from 2001-2003.
Barnhouse holds a Ph.D. in Leadership, Learning and Service from Cardinal Stritch University, a master’s degree in Sport Administration from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, with a focus in exercise physiology, from Brock University in Ontario, Canada. Additionally, last year, he completed the Institute for Educational Management professional education program at Harvard University.
While Barnhouse has worked at both two- and four-year institutions, his real passion lies with technical education.
“I’ve spent the last 16 or 17 years in this part of the academy, which I find to be the most notable and rewarding. We start by changing individuals and changing families, and then we can change communities. I feel like WCTC is where I can have an impact within the two-year college experience,” he said.
What drew Barnhouse to apply at WCTC was the College’s strong reputation as a technical education leader. He was interested in being a part of a forward-thinking organization that prioritizes community and business collaboration; bold innovation, such as the 8-week calendar; new opportunities for students; diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; and the professional development of faculty and staff.
During his first year at WCTC, Barnhouse plans to meet with leaders from business and industry as well as K-12 school districts. He also wants to gain a first-hand look at what is happening inside local companies to ensure students are learning relevant skills for today’s jobs -- but also for the ones that are yet to be developed.
“I think the board thought I was joking in my interview when I said I’d carry a pair of steel-toe boots in my trunk so that I can get on the plant floor -- and find out what the needs are, what we can do better and what’s coming up next -- but I was serious about that,” he said. “You’ve got to get under the machine, with the folks who are running the machine, to figure out how to make it better.”
He is also eager to form relationships with WCTC faculty and staff, who, he says, are at the core of the institution as their influence is critical to student success.
“WCTC has so much to be proud of because of the product that it puts out in students -- and that all starts and ends with faculty,” Barnhouse said. “If you don’t have exceptional faculty, you cannot have an institution that will be valued, that will put out excellent students or that will garner the type of respect that any institution would want. Equally important are the staff: they are an integral part of everything we do.”
Barnhouse, and his wife, Tiffany, will be moving to Wisconsin later next month, just in time for the winter holidays and a few weeks before he begins his new role. Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Barnhouse said Wisconsin feels like home. He spent a dozen years in the state from the early 2000s to the late 2010s, and for Tiffany, it is a true homecoming as she grew up in Pewaukee.
In looking ahead to his presidency, Barnhouse is enthusiastic about guiding WCTC into the next decade, as the higher education landscape will continue to grow and change.
“For me, this is truly a remarkable, unique opportunity -- to lead a college that is held in such high regard throughout the region and statewide. I really look forward to advancing WCTC’s legacy, which is, of excellence,” he said. “It’s going to be a privilege and an honor to lead WCTC through the 2020s.”
The WCTC District Board of Trustees would like to acknowledge Don Stevens + Associates, the higher education search firm that coordinated WCTC’s national presidential search, which yielded 60 applicants. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, board members were not able to hold face-to-face interviews, and these were replaced with video conferences throughout the screening process. Thanks to this technology, the board was able to stay on task and move forward with the search.
Waukesha County Technical College, the leader in workforce development, prepares learners for success within the region and global economy. The college offers more than 170 areas of study including associate degree, technical diploma, apprenticeship and short-term certificate programs and customized training for employers. To learn more, visit www.wctc.edu.