H. Jeffrey Rafn, PhD

President, Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College

The INSIGHT Into Diversity Giving Back Award honors college presidents and chancellors who go above and beyond their everyday duties to give back to their institutions and communities. President Rafn was nominated by colleagues and selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity as a 2016 Giving Back Award recipient for his dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion and encouraging community service both on his campus and in the surrounding community. 

Civic Involvement
Executive committee member of Achieve Brown County; member of the Community Partnership for Children and Achieving the Dream

Campus Community Service
In 2005, Rafn chartered a Service-Learning Team to create additional service-learning opportunities and provide resources for faculty. Now, Service-Learning — an individual division at Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) — is integrated into and enhances the curriculum, providing an opportunity for students to apply the skills they’ve learned. Under Rafn’s leadership, Service-Learning grew last year to include 4,324 students, who contributed more than 57,000 hours of service.

Collaborating for Student Success
To enhance both diversity and student success, Rafn directed the creation of dual-credit partnerships with Green Bay high schools — which draw about 50 percent of their students from underrepresented populations — and set a goal that every Green Bay high school student will graduate with college credits already earned.

Supporting Native American Communities
A new partnership with the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, made possible by Rafn, ensures regular high-level meetings between NWTC and tribal education officials to promote college attainment and student success. One of these programs, a series of Connecting Families events, offers free, fun, educational, and interactive experiences to NWTC students and their families and Oneida families. Other initiatives include K-12 career exploration events and tracking of student success.

Diversity and Inclusion Actions
Created five student support specialist positions, which provide case management and wraparound support services for Southeast Asian, Native American, Hispanic, and African American students; hired a senior executive to focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion at the college; instituted NWTC’s Diversity Team, which focuses on creating a healthy campus climate for all; created the President’s Diversity Council, which is composed of leaders from Brown County who advise Rafn and NWTC’s director of diversity and inclusion on community matters pertaining to equity

Nomination Excerpt
“Rafn has demonstrated the importance of community engagement and valuing differences in every facet of the college. He brought to NWTC the certain knowledge that if we find a problem we are uniquely qualified to solve or an opportunity to benefit our community that we are uniquely positioned to act on, we have a responsibility to do so. His commitment to making NWTC welcoming and accessible has resulted in reorganizations, new staffing, new programming, and more — even when the college was cutting back on more traditional offerings. He has put the college to work for its community by creating strategic goals and hard measurements related to student achievement gaps, diversifying employee recruitment, and increasing community service.”