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View from around the state: New MATC campus a grand achievement

Congratulations to Madison Area Technical College for opening a new South Side campus this week, serving 1,600 students with more to come.

This is a big moment for our community — one we should be proud of and strongly support.

Instead of just talking about Madison’s long-standing racial and economic disparities, MATC is doing something decisive about it.

The new campus, at the corner of South Park Street and West Badger Road, is strategically and conveniently located where data shows the most need for post-secondary education exists — on and around the South Side and Beltline. That’s where an estimated 17,000 adults could benefit from certificate and degree programs, according to MATC research.

The Goodman South campus — named after the late Madison jewelers and philanthropists Irwin and Robert Goodman, whose foundation donated $10 million for the project — is spacious, gleaming and loaded with technology. Other extremely generous donations include $10.2 million from Ascendium, and $1.3 million from the American Family Dreams Foundation. The rest of the roughly $25 million project came from smaller donors and college coffers, not the state.

The campus will cater to Dane County’s highest employment needs, including the health care and information technology professions. The 75,000 square-foot facility with two stories, 34 classrooms, a library and cafe will have state-of-the-art labs for nursing, anatomy, physiology, chemistry and microbiology instruction. A simulated hospital environment featuring medical equipment and interactive mannequins are part of the nursing lab. Five classrooms can livestream classes. Students will have access to a legal clinic and community rooms.

The mostly part-time students who attend MATC, also known as Madison College, will have flexible class times, including nights and weekends, to fit around their work schedules. The site has nearly 250 parking spaces and is across the street from a major bus transfer station.

MATC, under the leadership of Jack Daniels III, did its homework and planned this project well to accelerate promising students toward success. Countless adults will be able to improve their knowledge and skills closer to where they live, moving into better jobs our economy needs to fill.

Prominent critics lamented MATC’s decision to close its downtown Madison center just off the Capitol Square to invest more resources closer to students. We understand the desire to keep downtown strong and buzzing with activity. MATC began as a vocational school at the downtown site nearly a century ago. So leaving wasn’t an easy decision.

But downtown is doing well. In fact, the site that MATC is leaving is well on its way to being redeveloped as a hotel with an eight-story expansion.

Many people on Madison’s South Side are not doing so well. They need more opportunity to advance. At the same time, Wisconsin needs more well-trained people to fill vital positions in the knowledge-based economy.

MATC’s bold expansion on the South Side deserves applause. We wish the Goodman South campus great success in the coming years at improving people’s lives and the vitality of our region and state.

— From the Wisconsin State Journal

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