University of Wisconsin-Stout

Feb. 9, 2011

Bryan Albrecht told University of Wisconsin-Stout students that they need to continuously challenge themselves to become effective leaders.

Albrecht, a UW-Stout alumnus and president of Gateway Technical College of Kenosha, was the Educator in Residence Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 8-9. The new campus event is sponsored by the career and technical education programs at UW-Stout.

“To be a stronger leader, you have to take a risk. Try something different. Don’t let yourself get in a comfort zone. If you don’t try something new, you may as well be retired,” Albrecht said.

At Gateway Tech, Albrecht challenges himself by going into classrooms to see what students are doing, putting himself in uncomfortable situations where the students know more than the president. He challenged the college to meet new enrollment goals, which it did a year early. He also directed a change in the school’s culture when it adopted a three-semester calendar, meaning employees had to start working in the summer.

Albrecht believes that leadership begins with building relationships. He personally serves the cake at all Gateway award functions, giving him a chance to connect with each person there. He also sends a weekly personal message to the staff.

“It’s easy to tell people our title. The hardest part for each of us is to tell people who we are,” Albrecht said. “Find ways to connect so people want to follow you and be in your circle.

“Leadership is not a title; it’s a lifestyle,” said Albrecht, who has been Gateway Tech president since 2006.

Albrecht, a Fond du Lac native, began his career as CTE high school teacher in Wisconsin and worked for the state Department of Public Instruction before going to Gateway. He is past president of the national Association for Career and Technical Education.

Albrecht has three degrees from UW-Stout, is working on his doctorate at the University of Minnesota and even has his eye on a fifth degree. “Lifelong learning is essential,” he said. “And then, how do you give that back? It’s what you do with education that really counts.”

In attendance were two of Albrecht’s former UW-Stout instructors, Lee Smalley and Howard Lee, both now retired. He credited them, and others in his life, for expecting a lot out of him. He gave Howard Lee a crystal apple award, like one given out at Gateway, for his mentorship.

“You need someone to challenge you,” Albrecht said.

One of the goals of the Educator in Residence program is to “inspire, motivate and showcase career successes of graduates of UW-Stout,” said Carol Mooney, a professor in the School of Education and director of the CTE graduate programs. “We need to be exposing students to leadership as much as we can.”

The CTE undergraduate program is an outgrowth of one of UW-Stout’s first majors, vocational education. The CTE master’s program has been offered for 75 years, since the Graduate School opened in 1935. The CTE programs at UW-Stout are the only such majors offered in the UW System.

“For seventy-five years we’ve been graduating students in vocational education and now career and technical education for leadership positions, and they are doing very, very well,” Mooney said.

Albrecht also toured campus, met with officials and student leaders and visited classes.

For more information, contact Mooney at 715-232-1444 or