Speaking on Education Column – May 2015 Dean Yohnk, Dean/CEO On Wednesday, May 20 UW-Barron County will mark a “milestone moment” in its 49 year history as it graduates its firstever bachelor’s degree students during its annual Commencement Ceremony. These UW-BC students are among the first in the UW Colleges system of 13 two-year campuses to be awarded our new Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Degree (BAAS). Just two years ago UW-BC was among the first of the UW College campuses approved by the UW Board of Regents to beginning offering this individualized bachelor’s degree-completion program. As a campus we are truly honored to celebrate the successes and achievements of our first BAAS student “pioneers” and graduates from this flexible educational and career advancement program. Our BAAS curriculum is designed for associate degree-holding students of all ages who may have jobs and/or families and want to earn a practical and applied bachelor’s degree close to home. Classes are taught both in-person and online by faculty from UW-Barron County and six other UW System partner institutions, including UW-Stout, UW-Superior, UW-La Crosse, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Parkside. BAAS students can select from over 120 courses in various disciplines to create a specialized emphasis within the degree. Students work closely with dedicated advisors to develop a unique program of study with emphases in such highdemand career fields as organizational leadership, business administration, applied communication, project management, healthcare management, environmental and sustainable management, international relations, and public affairs. The BAAS degree focuses on developing the critical skills that employers say they are seeking in employees today, including effective critical thinking, information processing, interpersonal communication, creative problem solving, and a collaborative work ethic. The degree also includes community engagement opportunities and professional internships in addition to classroom learning experiences, which further prepare students to apply theoretical knowledge and higher order thinking skills to solve complex real-life problems and challenges. In the fall of 2014 UW-BC was among the first UW College campuses approved to begin offering a “technical college pathway” track in the BAAS degree program for associate degree graduates from WITC and all technical colleges in Wisconsin. Since that time, more than 50% of the students admitted to our thriving BAAS degree have been technical college graduates. The creation and success of the new BAAS technical pathway program has provided UW-BC and WITC with many additional opportunities to develop collaborative educational initiatives that are mutually beneficial to both colleges and to the diverse students that our campuses serve throughout the region. On the afternoon of May 20 prior to the UW-BC Commencement and Awards Ceremony, leadership from UW-BC and WITC will come together to sign an official “Memorandum of Understanding” that will formalize the BAAS transfer agreement between the two colleges and celebrate this new collaborative degree program and partnership. Working together WITC and UW-BC are greatly improving educational access and opportunities for associate degree graduates who are seeking an applied bachelor’s degree to advance their knowledge, skills, lives, and careers. For more information about UW-BC’s BAAS degree please contact the UW-BC Student Services Office at 715-2348176, ext. 1 or Deb Neuheisel-Smith at 715-234-8176, ext. 5445.