News Release

Published on Thursday, April 24, 2008

Western Technical College’s Alumni Association will be presenting this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award to Richard Westpfahl of Onalaska. Westpfahl will be honored at a special reception following Western’s commencement ceremony on Friday, May 9.

Westpfahl graduated with honors from Coleman Technical Institute’s (now known as Western) Printing program in 1967. After graduation, he was offered a job at the college running the first “copy center” on campus. While working full-time, he was also enrolled in the Printing and Publishing program, and in 1972, he transferred to UW-Stout to complete his bachelor’s degree. From there he worked within the publishing industry and as a high school graphic arts instructor until he returned to Western in 1985. Since then, he has held numerous positions at the college, including instructor, quality assurance coordinator, and associate dean. He is currently the dean of the graphics, transportation, and manufacturing programs within the Industrial Technologies Division.

“Rich was selected not only for what he has accomplished in his professional life, but his commitment to the Western Technical College District and its students,” said Sally Emerson, alumni relations coordinator for Western. “He has demonstrated great dedication to Western since he started working here more than 40 years ago. We are very proud of Rich and his achievements.”

Westpfahl’s on-campus contributions have been numerous. He was instrumental in coordinating the first-ever Industrial Technologies Alumni Reunion in 2007, bringing enthusiasm and graduates to campus. He has been involved in several building projects throughout the district, including the new Auto/Diesel Technology Center, the Mauston and Tomah Campus expansions, and the Coleman Study Group. He has also served as a mentor and advisor to students, student teachers, and new faculty throughout his career.

Past recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award are Deb Limberg, Dick Walz, Keith Steenlage, Terry Rydberg, Michael Sexauer, Kathy Foust, Jeff Komay, Cinda Vingers, Donald Jobe, Lynn Smyrk-Lenz, Kevin Kobishop, Karen Long, Karl “Butch” Halverson, Jim Timm, and Dick Fox.

For more information on Western’s Alumni Association or to submit a nomination for the Distinguished Alumni Award, call 608.789.6083. To learn more about Western programs and services, call 608.785.9200 or visit our Web site at