Speaking of Education Column by Dean Yohnk, UW-BC Dean


“There’s no place like home.”

This famous quote from the beloved classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” has taken on very special meaning for me in the past few weeks as I have had the incredible opportunity to return to my childhood “home” in northwestern Wisconsin to accept the position as the new Dean and Campus Executive Officer (CEO) at UW-Barron County.  

As I begin this new position and opportunity, I am often asked why I have chosen to return “home” at this time in my career.   Nearly 32 years ago when I graduated from Cornell High School, I made the difficult decision to leave my family’s dairy farm in Chippewa County so that I could pursue my dream of achieving a college education and a successful career as an educator.

 While I had learned many incredible life lessons while growing up on the farm – including the value of common sense, responsibility, hard work, dedication, and a strong sense of commitment to getting the “job” done well – I had a strong desire to learn more about life and the world by achieving a liberal arts college degree and becoming a teacher.   

As the first person from my family to attend college, I faced many challenges and obstacles that are common to many first-generation college students who come from families with limited financial means and a lack of awareness about the challenging realities of the collegiate experience.   Thankfully, my family and college professors and advisors were very supportive of my passionate desire to go to college and to achieve a rewarding education, life, and career.    

My own story is very similar to the stories of many UW-Barron County students – the majority of whom are the first from their families to attend college – as they strive to achieve their own personal and career goals in a variety of fields of study.

Now in my 25th year as a high school and college educator and administrator, I realize now more than ever that nothing is more important to me than assisting others in achieving their educational and career goals.   Serving as the new Dean and CEO at UW-Barron County is really the fulfillment of my goals and aspirations as an educator in many ways.  

My position at UW-Barron County allows me a unique opportunity to fulfill my life-long commitment to working with exceptional colleagues who are dedicated to providing high-quality educations and learning opportunities to all.   Many students who attend UW-Barron County have the opportunity to achieve an exceptional and accessible liberal arts college education from the world-class University of Wisconsin only because we are fortunate to have this outstanding campus in our community.   

Indeed, UW-Barron County serves as an invaluable educational, cultural, and economic resource that enriches northwestern Wisconsin in countless ways.   Working closely with area educational colleagues at area K-12 school districts in the region, our collaborative partners at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, other UW System schools, and Barron County officials, UW-Barron County strives to continue its 48 year mission to provide educational access and enrichment for all in this special place that we call “home.”

Truly, there’s no place like home – and we at UW-Barron County are proud of our important roles in enhancing the lives of all those who call northwestern Wisconsin “home.”  It is our honor and privilege to serve as our region’s gateway to a world-class University of Wisconsin education and the many enriching opportunities that it provides to all.     


Barb Lang