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An open letter to Dr. Bryan Albrecht of Gateway Technical College on his retirement

Dr. Albrecht… Bryan:

Most of the time a “congratulations on your retirement” letter starts out with congratulations on your retirement. I’m not ready to go there just yet.

When I came to southeast Wisconsin and UW-Parkside 13 years ago, I was unsure just how I would be received by colleagues in higher education. What I remember is quickly realizing and appreciating that you and I share a passion for transforming lives. I may not have expressed it at the time, but that meant a great deal. You were generous with your time and very willing to help me meet business leaders, elected officials and influential community members.

Time goes by far too quickly. More than a decade later, I believe our institutions have made a difference by creating more opportunities for students to earn the academic credentials that will pave their way toward sustainable success.

You and I have attended a lot of community events together. Each served an important purpose. What stands out in my mind is that we attended as higher-education partners rather than higher-education competitors.

We’ve served together on various community and business leadership boards – The Mahone Fund, KABA, RAMAC, Higher Expectations of Racine County, and Building our Future, to name a few. Hearing community feedback provided an opportunity for us to share and develop ideas on how Gateway and UW-Parkside could work “better together” and increase academic pathways for students to meet their individual needs.

I know you will remember a day at UW-Parkside where we announced new articulation agreements, spanning a variety of academic disciplines – again, more opportunities for student success. We shared the stage that day with Rudy the Red Hawk and Ranger Bear. There’s an old Hollywood saying: Don’t work with kids or animals. They should add mascots to that list. What a fun morning.

Being a part of the Higher Education Regional Alliance (HERA), an innovative group of college and university leaders from throughout southeast Wisconsin including Greater Milwaukee, was especially rewarding. Your vision and passion to align institutional programs helped form a valuable foundation upon which HERA continues its mission to bridge equity gaps, transform lives, and expand the region’s talent pool.

It was an honor last spring to join Carthage President John Swallow and Tim Mahone, chair of the Mary Lou & Arthur F. Mahone Fund Board of Directors, at the Reaching for Rainbows scholarship event. We proudly announced the renaming of the Reaching for Rainbows Living Legend Community Award in your honor. The Dr. Bryan Albrecht Living Legend Award is a fitting tribute to your dedication as a Mahone Fund board member and board president.

Recently, I felt a sense of coming full circle back to our initial meetings and the realization of a shared passion for transforming lives. Our efforts to develop associate of arts and associate of science liberal arts degrees for Gateway students, leading to a UW-Parkside bachelor’s degree in more than 25 academic disciplines will have a transforming impact for decades to come.

Your career has been purposeful and for the betterment of all. On behalf of the UW-Parkside learning community, thank you for making southeast Wisconsin a better place to live, learn, and grow.

I guess it’s time: Congratulations, Bryan, and best wishes on your retirement!

Chancellor Debbie Ford, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

©UW-Parkside/Alyssa Nepper 2019

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