Dr. Michael Rosen moves on from MATC



After working at MATC for 28 years and serving 17 years as president of American Federation of Teachers Local 212, Mike Rosen is retiring.

Known by his peers as one of the most experienced teachers at MATC and possibly the most effective president in Local 212 history, Dr. Michael Rosen’s 28- year run at MATC is coming to an end.

“What I will miss the most is the connection with the students,” said Rosen.  He recalled a recent run-in he had with a former student. “We were at Bosley’s on Brady, and he came up to me and asked if I was Dr. Rosen. I said, ‘yes.’ Then he reminded me that he had been in one of my classes and that he liked it so much that he made his son take my class too.” Interactions like those have fueled Rosen’s long teaching stint.

Rosen started teaching at MATC in the summer of 1989. “My interview was at 5 p.m., by 5:15 p.m. I had the job and at 5:30 p.m. I was in the classroom teaching, and I have not looked back since,” said Rosen.

Shortly after starting here he joined the teacher’s union.  He noted he grew up in a strong union household and has held union leadership positions at previous jobs, including chair of the Community Services Committee at American Motors in Kenosha.

It did not take Rosen long to work his way up the ranks in the union.  Three years after joining he was promoted to the newsletter editor, then legislative chair and eventually president in 2000, a position he has retained ever since.

Rosen is  pleased of  maintaining a strong union throughout his time as president.  “We focus a lot on quality education, making sure the teachers are getting paid a professional amount and being treated with the respect they deserve, which in turn gives the students the best opportunity for education,” said Rosen.

Dedicating his career to a college that has many low-income students has been special for Rosen.  “We are the only majority-minority college in Wisconsin, in the fourth poorest city in the country, so the fact we give low-income residents a chance to enter the middle class has been humbling,” he said.

However, his finest moment was one of rejection.  As the first-ever MATC instructor to be appointed to the Wisconsin Technical College System Board of Directors, Rosen’s appointment was rejected by the Republican-controlled state Senate, in a move that Governor Jim Doyle called a “partisan stunt by state Republicans.”

His rejection was the first time an appointee had been rejected since Frank Zeidler in the 1960s.  “When Governor Doyle asked if I wanted to be appointed he asked if I was embarrassed about the senate’s decision, but I told him the opposite, that I wore the rejection as a badge of honor,” said Rosen.  He ended up serving a six-year term on the state board.

Dr. Lisa Conley, an life sciences instructor at MATC, will be taking over for Rosen.  “I am very confident in Lisa, she is very smart, and I have no doubt in my mind she will do an excellent job leading the union. I would not be leaving if I did not,” Rosen said.

In preparation for the transition, Rosen has formed a special committee that has been meeting once a week for the last few months.  The committee is focused on ensuring there is a core group of people ready to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Rosen said one of his greatest concerns is that state funding for MATC and the technical college system have been slashed by Governor Walker. That failure, stated Rosen, “has led to a decline in sections and services to students. It’s hypocritical to claim you support career and technical education and workforce development and slash MATC’s funding by 30%.”

Excrept: As of now, it remains unknown if he will organize his desk and office before he leaves.