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The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

MATC’s President prepares for her next chapter: retirement

Photo by Timothy Evans
Dr. Vicki J. Martin and MATC student Gabrielle Armon-Wickers at the MATC Foundation’s BluTender event, a March 2024 fundraiser at the Pfister to support the MATC Promise scholarship. Photo courtesy of MATC Photographer/ Videographer Tim Evans.

After 35 years of service to the MATC community, Dr. Vicki J. Martin sets her sights on retirement. As a lifelong learner, Dr. Martin has dedicated her career to studying leadership, a focus that remains strong as this chapter of her life draws to a close. To Dr. Martin, “leadership involves resilience, persistence and teamwork. It’s essential to maintain your integrity, be authentic, and have a clear vision,” even when it doesn’t always align with everyone’s expectations. She says, “You must remain true to who you are.”

As her presidency ends, she hopes “our students feel proud of their achievements. Our graduates should know they have received a quality education and feel confident that the skills they learned will help them succeed.” Under her leadership, the college has continued to “play a critical role for employers” as a place for inclusion, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. “Our mission is about making a difference in the community, and we hold ourselves accountable.”

For Dr. Martin, serving the community involves more than just developing students’ academic and technical skills. It’s about serving the people and ensuring their needs are met holistically. From food and transportation to career services and mental health, MATC’s campus resources go above and beyond to meet the needs of the students. MATC’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), a staunch supporter of the MATC Times, has been instrumental in supporting students and staff through some of their most difficult moments. This semester, MATC mourned the sudden and tragic loss of students and faculty, including Dr. Milton Dockery, LaVonte Ford, Kristen Veto, and Sade Carleena Robinson, just weeks apart. Fighting through tears, Dr. Martin shared,

“It’s just really hard. It’s just a really difficult thing…the loss of any student or staff member affects so many lives. We need to be mindful of that and have a lot of grace and understanding with those who knew these people and what they are going through…It is really beyond painful; I can’t even begin to tell you.”

The challenges of leading an educational institution through crises, such as the loss of students and the COVID-19 pandemic, have put Dr. Martin’s leadership skills to the test. For the first time in the college’s history, MATC shut its doors. Dr. Martin stated, “During the pandemic, we realized the importance of adaptability and empathy. We needed to ensure students had access to mental health services and the necessary technology to keep learning.” That adaptability went far beyond ensuring safety through masking and social distancing; it also shaped how the school navigated future obstacles. 

One of the most significant disruptors coming our way is the rise of AI. Dr. Martin is well aware of this and has already spearheaded an effort to gather a task force to balance cybersecurity and academic integrity with keeping students competitive in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. Currently, nearly 70% of students nationwide use AI daily for various tasks. In contrast, only about 30% of MATC instructors report incorporating it into their personal lives or classroom activities. While conversations about the implications of one of the most rapid technological advancements is a highly nuanced issue that will take time to understand, Dr. Martin puts it at the top of her list of priorities and an issue that the next campus president will have to face.

On the afternoon of May 2, 2024, the MATC District Board selected Dr. Anthony Cruz to serve as the next president of MATC as he wraps up his tenure at the Kendall Campus of Miami Dade College. With 28 years of experience in higher education and a student’s first educational philosophy, the board was sure he would be an excellent fit for the MATC program. As the conversation with Dr. Martin drew close, I asked her what advice she would give the next president. She said, 

“Focus on the students. When I’m having one of those days where it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, so much is going on,’ I walk in the hallways, look at students, and say hi to them and talk to them. And guess what? I come back and go, ‘It’s all worth it.’ If I could give advice to the next college president, that would be it. Every day, that’s what gets me through because every day, we’re changing their lives, we’re making a difference.”

As our graduates and Dr. Martin embark on their new paths, we celebrate not only their accomplishments but also the resilience and determination they have demonstrated in overcoming countless challenges. We celebrate their perseverance and work ethic. We know that the end of this semester does not mark the end of the road but the beginning of a new journey. 

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