Our History

The need for "industrial" education was recognized early in central Wisconsin. Even before Wisconsin's Legislature created the system of Public Industrial, Commercial, Continuation and Evening Schools in 1911, local programs were being offered in Marshfield and Stevens Point.

In Marshfield, evening classes had been held in the old Washington School since 1902, under the auspices of the public school board. Roy J. Carver, hired in 1917, was the first evening and day class director. The Stevens Point city vocational program began in 1911 with classes in second-floor quarters downtown. Arnold Johnson was the first director. The original vocational school facility in Wisconsin Rapids, the Witter Manual Training School, was named in honor of Jeremiah D. Witter, an early attorney, jurist, banker, and school board member who became chief stockholder in the first pulp mill located in Grand Rapids. Upon his death, the school received $50,000. The money was used to build and equip the Witter School, which was completed in 1907. At that time, the Witter School and the Stout Manual Training School at Menomonie were the only two such institutions in Wisconsin. E.S. Hayward was hired as the first school administrator at Witter, and he was replaced by W.A. Sprise in 1919.

Cooperative programs between the local public schools and the vocational schools soon began to emerge. Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield shared facilities and instructors, and vocational schools in all three cities provided programs for employment training. Marshfield's city council appropriated money to build a new vocational and junior high school building in 1918. The building was completed and occupied in 1920. It was dedicated to the memory of Sgt. Willard D. Purdy, a United States Army hero during World War I. An addition to the building was completed in 1926.

In the late 1930s, Stevens Point programs were moved to the old Emerson High School, where they remained until the new school on Michigan Avenue was completed in 1962. For many years a cooperative program with nearby P.J. Jacobs High School provided shop facilities for high school students in the present vocational school building.

In 1961 the Legislature changed the names of the schools to "Schools of Vocational, Technical and Adult Education". In the fall of that year, full-time postsecondary education began at Wisconsin Rapids, with seven students enrolled in Accounting and 13 in Secretarial Science, both one-year programs. In 1962 the first full-time program, Electronic Servicing, was offered at the Stevens Point school. In 1965 the Wood County Teachers College was closed, and the facilities were sold to the city of Wisconsin Rapids for vocational school use. The first two-year program, Marketing, was initiated in 1964, and additional one- and two-year programs were added as facilities were remodeled.

The Stevens Point school also added new programs during this period. Business education, machine shop, and welding programs were inaugurated. In 1965 the Practical Nursing program was added. Two-year technical programs in Civil-Highway Technology and Instrumentation Technology were added in Wisconsin Rapids.

Following legislative action in 1965, the Wood County Board of Supervisors submitted formal resolutions to encourage the Wisconsin Board of Vocational, Technical and Adult Education and the Coordinating Council of Higher Education to form a vocational-technical district in central Wisconsin. Approval to form an organized district was granted, and Area Vocational, Technical & Adult Education District 14 became a reality on July 1, 1967, with the former Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids schools becoming part of the district. Upon formation of the district, Earl F. Jaeger was hired as director, and efforts were begun to convert the Wisconsin Rapids school into a comprehensive center.

In January 1968 a review team conducted a program study within the institution. Three associate degree program evaluations (Accounting, Mechanical Design Technician, and Secretarial Science) were successfully completed in spring of that year. By fall, three others (Marketing, Civil-Highway Technology, and Instrumentation Technology) had been completed, qualifying the school for "technical institute" status by the Wisconsin Board of VTAE on March 20, 1969. Later that year, the first full-time diploma program (Medical Assistant) was offered at Marshfield.

Organization of Area Vocational, Technical & Adult Education District 14 was completed on July 1, 1970. The district was designed to include all of Wood County, most of Portage and Adams counties, and portions of Juneau, Marathon, Clark, Waushara and Jackson counties. The Stevens Point City Vocational School became part of the district at that time. The state board approved a change in district and school names from numbers to generic names in September 1972. As a result, District 14 became Mid-State Vocational, Technical and Adult Education District, and the district-wide institution became Mid-State Technical Institute (MSTI)-Marshfield Campus, Stevens Point Campus, and Wisconsin Rapids Campus.

The name was officially changed to Mid-State Technical College in 1987.

Phase I of the Wisconsin Rapids Campus building program (Automotive Mechanical-Industrial building) was started in October 1971 and occupied in the fall of 1972. Phase II construction (Laboratory-Technology and Academic-Administration buildings) received approval in December 1972. Construction started in June 1973 and was completed in January 1975. Phase III (Student Services and Educational Resources buildings) started late in 1974 and was completed in January 1976. Phase IV (Academic Multipurpose building and Diesel Shop addition) was approved in May 1977. Construction began in October 1977 and was completed in December 1978.

Meanwhile, successful evaluations of the Real Estate, Dietetic Technician, Personnel, Respiratory Therapist, Electrical Power Engineering Technician, Supermarket Management, and Data Processing programs were completed, qualifying all of them as associate degree programs. Three part-time associate degree programs also were added in Police Science, Corrections Science, and Supervisors Management. In July 1979, Mid-State received full accreditation status from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Six additional associate degree programs were later added. Those programs include Associate Degree Nursing, Computer Electronics Technician, Electronics Technician, Food and Hospitality Management, Industrial Mechanical Technician, and Police Science. Four vocational diploma programs--Information Processing Specialist, Financial Services Representative, Phlebotomy Technician, and Travel Agent—were also added.

On April 3, 1990, district voters approved a $4.5 million construction referendum for the Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point and Marshfield Campuses. Marshfield received a modern campus building at 2600 West Fifth Street and the facility was officially dedicated on October 6, 1991. Wisconsin Rapids Campus experienced an expansion to both the administration and educational buildings. Those expansions included computer rooms, a child care facility, and state-of-the-art police science and food and hospitality management training centers. Stevens Point Campus expanded its facilities with a new main office area, large meeting room, general classrooms, and office space.

At the November 18, 1996 Board meeting, Mid-State Technical College Board of Directors voted to move forward on an expansion for the Adams County Center. The plan called for an expansion of 3,900 square feet to the site. Details of the $425,000 project include the addition of two classrooms, a learning resource area, additional office space, a student lounge, demolition of a garage on the Center’s north end, and construction of a parking lot. Construction began March 1, 1997 and was completed in September 1997.

Through the college’s strategic planning process, which began in 1997, many college initiatives have been realized. One of the major recommendations was in the area of improving customer service. A strategic planning action team, assigned to this area provided three key recommendations:

  • Create a “front door” appearance for Wisconsin Rapids Campus, an obvious starting point for new and prospective students. The appearance would be similar to newer facilities in Marshfield and Stevens Point.
  • Create a visible reception area located near the new “front door” which would be easily recognized as the place to go to for service.
  • Consolidate those services that are most frequently needed by students and have them available where they are most convenient. The approximate cost for the remodeling project is $650,000.

Construction began in the fall of 1999 and was completed in late spring of 2000.

Historical Timeline

Source: Building for the Future: Mid-State Technical College (1907-2010) by Dave Engel and Holly Knoll

  • Jere D. Witter bequeaths $50,000 for a Grand Rapids (Wisconsin Rapids) school.
  • (Grand Rapids) Lincoln school built for $55,000 (on fairgrounds to become Witter Field). Besides high school, Lincoln also houses County Training School for Teachers.
  • Wisconsin Legislature creates system of Public Industrial, Commercial and Evening Schools.
  • State aid: $3,700 to Rapids; $2,800 to Marshfield; $3,000 to Point; $10,000 to Green Bay; $20,000 to Milwaukee
  • New Marshfield vocational and junior high building dedicated to Sgt. Willard D. Purdy, WWI hero.
  • Compulsory attendance law requires youth 16-18 to attend school full-time, half-time, or one day a week, depending on classification and employment.
  • Addition to Purdy building, Marshfield.
  • New Lincoln High School built (later WR Junior High)
  • Almost-new electric mimeograph machine purchased from Consolidated Water Power & Paper Co. for $150.
  • Vocational School grants school credits and issues diplomas to youth, not enlisted in army, who have not completed education.
  • Stevens Point Vocational programs moved to former Emerson (1929-1938) High School.
  • Budget: $21,500 (figures rounded), $14,000 from WR.
  • Day teachers, by subject, include foods, auto mechanics, printing, woodworking, machine shop, drafting, clothing, music, sheet metal, canning.
  • Fur farming and commercial cranberry growing programs organized.
  • Curriculum: Auto mechanics, bookkeeping, cake decorating, clothing, current problems, electronics, foods (Supper Club), home nursing, knitting ladies tailoring and millinery, machine shop, mathematics, painting, physical education, printing, psychology.
  • Report: in 1919, adult enrollment was 200, compulsory day enrollment 1 to 3; Now (1951), 2,707 total, including 70 day compulsory students.
  • Legislature adds “T” word to “Schools of Vocation, Technical and Adult Education.”
  • New school on Michigan Avenue, Stevens Point.
  • First two-yea program, marketing.
  • Wood County Normal (Teachers College) discontinued and facilities sold to WR for Vocational School use.
  • 18 vocational districts established by the State Board.
  • District 14 officially recognized.
  • WR School of Vocational and Adult Education becomes Mid-State Technical Institute.
  • First full-time diploma program (Medical Assistant) offered at Marshfield.
  • District 14 board looks for new campus building site.
  • Stevens Point Technical School officially becomes part of District 14.
  • Education program in Transportation Management received national coverage.
  • Sylvester and Minnie Washkovick agree to sell 155 acres for $108,500 for MTI (aka MSTI) campus.
  • Phase I of WR building program begins.
  • UW-Platteville allows transfer of two-year associate degree credits in industrial education, industrial technology and light building construction.
  • VTAE District 14 issues first course catalog for WR, Marshfield and Steven Point.
  • Phase II of building program begins.
  • Phase III of building program begins.
  • $4 million Mid-State complex dedicated.
  • In order to reach residents in the southern portion of the District, Mid-State leases 1,500ft building to house basic adult education and goal oriented adult learning, along with adult classes.
  • Wood County Normal demolished.
  • First 90-hour EMT course was completed in which curriculum and control was administered by Mid-State. State legislation turned over the program to the 16 VTAE districts instead of the Wisconsin Division of Health. (WRT May-June 1978)
  • First inmate from Federal Correctional Institute in Oxford receives mechanical drafting diploma from MSTI. (WRT May-June 1978)
  • Auto shop at MSTI suffered $3,000 in fire damage. (WRT Jan-Feb 1978)
  • MTI received full accreditation status from North Central Association of College and Schools.
  • MSTI/Mid-State Foundation is established.
  • Mid-State Foundation receives $959.14 button sale proceeds.
  • District 14 purchases Adams Center.
  • Stevens Point Campus under goes renovations to include: new addition, new roof, remodeled classrooms and offices, a study area, modernized windows and heating and ventilation system.
  • Mid-State Technical Institute officially became Mid-State Technical College after approval by the Wisconsin Vocation, Technical and Adult Education Board. The name change to “college” affected all 16 technical institutes in Wisconsin except Madison and Milwaukee which were already known as colleges.
  • Voters approve $4.5 million construction referendum. Stevens Point and WR expand; Marshfield gets a modern campus building at 2600 West Fifth Street.
  • Mid-State becomes smoke free.
  • Gender equity study and workshop encourages women to explore wider career options.
  • Mid-State began distance learning system in which classes were telecast from one classroom to another in a different town using fiber optics technology with two-way, full-motion video and audio transmission.
  • Board of directors votes to move forward with $425,000 Adams expansion.
  • Mid-State Foundation receives $1 million bequest from the Leonard & Lillian Bethke estate, former owners of Bethke Chevrolet-Oldsmobile in Wisconsin Rapids. In honor of their generosity, a full-tuition scholarship is offered to students entering the college’s Automotive Technician or Diesel & Heavy Equipment Technician programs.
  • WR Campus builds service-oriented “front door”.
  • Mid-State becomes the first Wisconsin technical college to participate in North Central Association (NCA) of Colleges and Secondary Schools Academic Quality
  • Improvement Process (AQIP).This quality improvement model involves an annual update and check-up visits with a seven-year accreditation window.
  • Mid-State Foundation unveils Donor Recognition Wall at Wisconsin Rapids Campus.
  • Mid-State introduces revision of college logo.