News Release

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Western Wisconsin Technical College is in the running for the “Heisman Trophy” of awards given to community colleges.

The Community College Futures (CCF) Assembly has selected WWTC’s Health Benefit Improvement Team (HBIT) as one of the finalists for the prestigious Bellwether Award, which is often compared to football’s Heisman Award due to the competitive judging and recognition by peer colleges throughout the nation.

The Bellwether Award recognizes outstanding and innovative programs and practices that are successfully leading community colleges into the future. HBIT is among the 10 finalists nominated in the Planning, Governance & Finance category, which identifies programs or activities that have been designed and successfully implemented to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the community college.

WWTC’s entry focused on the formation of HBIT as a joint union-management team, born out of the negotiations process, to help address the ongoing issue of health care, advise the negotiations teams as needed, and speed the negotiations process. HBIT’s charge is to address: 1) health care cost containment; 2) benefit composition; 3) a Population Health Management program to improve health and quality of life for employees, spouses, retirees, and dependents.

"The collaboration of labor and management teams is critical in finding solutions to such complex issues as health care and health benefit options,” said Lori Freit-Hammes, WWTC Wellness Center manager, who serves on HBIT and coordinated the application process. “The committee members of HBIT have worked extremely hard over the past three years and should feel proud of all that has been accomplished. We're committed to health care cost containment and improving the health and well being of our plan members. HBIT serves as a role model to all other colleges and organizations."

The Bellwether Awards are given annually to one of 10 finalists in each of three categories – Instructional Programs and Services; Planning, Governance and Finance; and Workforce Development. The winner will be selected after each finalist gives a presentation on their program to the full CCF Assembly at its annual meeting in January in Orlando, Fla.

For more information about the Bellwether Award, visit For information about other WWTC programs and services, call 608.785.9200 or visit the WWTC Web site at