News Release

Published on Friday, September 30, 2011

Western Technical College is celebrating its 100th year of education during the 2011-2012 academic year. In honor of the centennial anniversary, the college has created a website to highlight significant moments from the last 100 years.

The website,, explains how the college started in 1912 as a continuation school for adults, high school dropouts, and trade training. It chronicles the changes through the wars, recessions, and depressions in response to the needs of western Wisconsin. And, it describes how the college has developed into its present form, continuing to serve those original populations as well as degree-seeking students.

“Western has been in the same downtown La Crosse location for 100 years, and the college and the community have gone through many changes since then,” said Lee Rasch, Western president. “We hope those who visit the website will enjoy a glimpse of not only our history, but the history of the city, the state, and the country. It has certainly been an interesting century.”

A gallery of photos gives a visual timeline of the college’s expansion in La Crosse and into the regional locations as well. From two rooms in the Longfellow school building, Western has expanded to a 15-building campus in La Crosse, regional locations in Black River Falls, Independence, Mauston, Tomah, and Viroqua, and a public safety training center in Sparta.

A list of centennial events can be found on the site, and current students and staff, as well as alumni and retirees are able to share their memories. “We have the historical point of view from the college, but we’re hoping to add personal stories to the mix,” explained Rasch.

Retired employee Bert Hoch is credited for much of the information that appears on the site. A link to her History of Western Technical College document, completed in 2003, can be found there. Hoch worked with retired Dean of Industrial Technologies Bill Welch, Sr. to gather information about the early days of the college.

“We’re fortunate to have retirees who stay connected to the college and are willing help us document our rich history,” said Rasch. “We’re excited to tell people why the school was started here in La Crosse, and how it came to be what it is today.”