History of the Name
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College was one of the first technical schools in Wisconsin. Over 100 years ago, before the College came to fruition, there was a vision to train a dynamic workforce. WITC, as we know it today, has changed its name multiple times since its inception in 1912. Name changes occurred due to expanded service area and to incorporate recognizable higher education terms, among other reasons.
Between 1912 and 1972, campuses operated more independently and were branded separately. For example, WITC-Superior operated as Superior Technical Institute, and vocational districts 17 and 18 were merged to create one district in 1972.
Industrial, Commercial, Continuing Evening School founded in Superior
The Wisconsin Indianhead Vocational, Technical and Adult Education District was created to serve northwest Wisconsin
District name changed to Wisconsin Indianhead Technical Institute
Name becomes Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
Name change to Northwood Technical College
Why Rebrand Now?
WITC is a nationally top-ranked college with four campuses throughout northwest Wisconsin. As part of its strategic planning process, the College regularly conducts brand and perception research.
In early 2020, WITC hired CLARUS Corporation to conduct a large market research project that, in part, focused on WITC's brand, perception of the college, and the name. CLARUS reached out to residents, both within WITC's district and nearby; alumni; community influencers; current students and employees.
Results showed "Indianhead" is not recognized correctly as a geographic region, especially among younger stakeholders and those outside the district. The current name, "Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College," and its short initials, "WITC," caused confusion on what type of college WITC is and whether it's even a college.
Audience Interviewed: 1,576 individuals
Research results demonstrate confusion about what Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College/WITC represents.
Recurring remarks from survey:
- Confusion over what WITC represents
- 20% of people from outside the WITC District associate the initials "WITC" with a radio station
- 25% of 18 to 34-year-olds in the WITC District associate the college name with a tribal college
- Lack of recognition of "Indianhead" as a geographic region
- 38% of residents in the WITC District recognize the term "Indianhead" as a geographic region; it holds even less recognition amongst younger people and residents outside the District
- 1/2 of the groups surveyed rated the name was more "out-of-date" than "modern," with none rating it strongly as "modern" on a five-point scale
"I am not even sure where that part of the name [Indianhead] comes from. It was never explained to me." – WITC Alumni
"I questioned whether I was eligible to attend or not because of the presumed affiliation with a tribe." – WITC Student
"While I don't believe it is offensive, it is a bit antiquated." – Employee
Reflections on Research Results
The current name doesn't reflect who the College is today and who it will be tomorrow.
- The term "Indianhead" is tied to a geographic region which lacks recognition within the district and has very little recognition outside of the service area
- The term "Indianhead" is viewed as out-of-date, which can impact the reality of the College