Vol. 10    No. 11
MAY 28, 2015
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                           Future of Madison College
Since I interviewed Dr. Jack Daniels, president of Madison College, a couple of months ago, I have been thinking about the reconfiguration of
the Madison metro campuses and their impact on the future growth of Madison. There is a proposal currently being considered by the Madison
College board to let the lease run out on the west side campus located near West Towne, let the lease expire on the space that Madison
College South rents in The Villager Mall and to sell DTEC, the Downtown Education Center, on Carroll Street off of State Street and establish a
full-service campus — of course not as large as Truax, in South Madison, specifically in the 53713 or 53715 zip code area.

This is a huge decision because it will affect how Madison College educational offerings are configured for the next several decades. It will
determine the level of access that different populations have of the campus and will determine what impact Madison College will have on the
future of the greater Madison area.

Now when the Madison College board considered this proposal in May, there wasn’t any real opposition to closing the west campus, letting
its lease expire in 2016. And there appeared to be a general understanding on the part of all parties that Madison College needs to provide
educational services in South Madison, that it needs to have a presence there. And few people feel that The Villager Mall can meet the future
needs of a Madison College South campus, so there is a consensus that the Madison College South lease should be allowed to expire in 2017.

However, there is a vocal contingency that wants to keep DTEC and then also have a Madison College South location. It is the position of
Daniels and the Madison College administration that DTEC would be too costly to renovate and question the cost of having two campuses in
relatively close proximity to each other. Keeping DTEC could possibly financially limit the level of services that could be provided in the South
Madison campus.

I can remember back to when I first came to Madison back in 1970 to attend UW-Madison. We rarely ventured away from campus and the
State Street area because everything that we needed was within close quarters. One could ride a bike just over the Beltline and be riding on
country roads. Even S. Park Street was an old two-lane country road. University Avenue was two-lane and Hilldale was located on the
relatively far west side. West Towne had just opened up and it was surrounded by fields. Hwy 51 had a four-plex outdoor theater. Downtown
Madison was the center of the community and most everyone resided close by. All roads led to the Capitol Square, which still had department
stores located there. It made total sense to have Madison College located on Carroll Street right in the middle of the action, accessible to all.

But times have changed and so has the configuration of the greater Madison area. Downtown is still the central hub of the metropolitan area,
but it is changing fast. Baby boomer empty nesters and childless, high-tech Millennials are flocking downtown. It is becoming an arts and
entertainment district that is attracting middle class and upper class individuals who want to be in close proximity to the unique shopping,
restaurants and entertainment that the area offers.

And the center of the need for educational services has shifted as well. And that educational center of gravity has shifted south to South
Madison.

Now South Madison isn’t necessarily a precise geographical term. It has come to mean the area of impoverishment that borders the Beltline
Highway from Bridge Road to Allied Drive and up to the Bayview area near Meriter Hospital. That is the concept of South Madison that people
operate from.

And the statistics show, that this area is composed of people who have the greatest need for educational services, from rudimentary basic
skills remediation classes to liberal arts transfer courses.

There is a huge need there that if met, could transform the entire Madison area and make everyone’s boats rise from the economic impact.
Madison College can get its biggest bang for the buck if it sites a full-service campus in South Madison The time is know for these youth and
families to take full advantage of the educational services that Madison College can offer.

But that will never happen if the Madison College board decides to keep DTEC and plow a lot of money into it and keep the presence on
Carroll Street. The resources will be divided and some things will be offered at DTEC, in some cases for nostalgia’s sake since most of the
programs that were housed there are now in the new buildings on the Truax campus. And a limited South Madison campus will be created
that will be a nice image that Madison College is doing something in South Madison, but it won’t have the resources to get the job done.

It is for these reasons that I support the effort to close and sell DTEC and create a full-service campus in South Madison. We cannot afford two
campuses in close proximity and the greater Madison area cannot afford to meet the academic needs of the people who live in the larger
conception of what South Madison is. We cannot afford to be nostalgic here, keeping DTEC because of all of the emotional attachment and
history that people have with the location. We must be moved by need and numbers. And they point to a full-service Madison College campus
in South Madison. Let’s do it.
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