In the world of higher education, Erin Kohl’s impressive resume is a bit of a rare find.
As she approaches 15 years in the industry, this two-time Lakeland graduate has quickly climbed the ranks thanks to a variety of roles in academics, student services and marketing.
Earlier this year, Kohl became dean of Madison College’s School of Business and Applied Arts. She oversees a school that offers programming in about 50 programs, from barber cosmetology to accounting and from animation to culinary arts.
Her team includes 90 full-time faculty, a few hundred part-time faculty and also contains several enterprises which generate revenue for the school.
“I get to be involved in a lot of different things, from curriculum development to recruiting to how the website gets presented,” Kohl said. “Being involved in a leadership role on the academic side is exciting to me. I also get a well-rounded view of what our students experience, and it helps me to work with our faculty to make decisions that will benefit our students.”
The foundation for Kohl’s successful career came at Lakeland, as a student taking classes in Lakeland’s evening and online program, and working in several leadership roles at Lakeland.
She received a master of business administration and a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from Lakeland. She later received a doctor of education degree in educational leadership from Capella University.
She also worked for a decade at Lakeland, serving in a variety of roles including director of the Green Bay Center, associate dean of operations and advising, registrar and interim vice president for Lakeland’s evening and online programs.
“I loved my Lakeland experience,” Kohl said. “I loved the flexibility as a student. I was relocating to different cities and the classes had the flexibility I needed. I always felt the classes were as challenging and rigorous as I needed them to be.”
Kohl said two of her Lakeland MBA courses were especially helpful – organizational effectiveness and corporate strategy and decision making – because they had great instructors who helped mentor her and shape her career path.
During her time as a Lakeland staff member, Kohl experienced the different departments that contribute to the student experience, and those experiences have contributed to her success in her current role.
“When I served as the registrar at Lakeland it piqued my interest in the academic realm and it was a great growth opportunity,” she said. “I also got to understand the dynamics of Lakeland’s center locations and their various audiences and communities. Collectively, all these opportunities really helped me grow as a professional.”
Madison College’s goal for its students is to set them up for employment or to transfer to a four-year institution when they graduate. Several Madison College full-time faculty members also teach for Lakeland, so connecting Madison College graduates to Lakeland’s Madison Center comes naturally.
Kohl said collaboration between institutions to drive student success is important, especially to help keep graduates working in Wisconsin.
“Breaking down silos has been a theme,” Kohl said. “We work to remove barriers – whether it’s between programs or schools – that students might face when trying to achieve their goals. Our goal is always to make things easier for students.”