Batavia Mayor Honored as a Waubonsee “Fabulous 40”
Sugar Grove — One of Waubonsee Community College’s earliest graduates is also one of the college’s most distinguished alumni. For his many accomplishments in the field of politics and beyond, Waubonsee is honoring longtime Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke as a Waubonsee “Fabulous 40” alumnus.
Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke, seen here in his office at Batavia’s City Hall, has been recognized by Waubonsee Community College as a “Fabulous 40” alumnus in conjunction with the college’s 40th anniversary.
As part of the college’s yearlong 40th anniversary celebration, Waubonsee is honoring 40 alumni and students who embody the mission, vision and values of the college. These individuals represent the diversity of Waubonsee’s students and the college district, as well as the diversity of the college’s mission as a comprehensive community college.
When Schielke first enrolled at Waubonsee, the school didn’t have the track record of success that it has today. It didn’t even have a permanent campus or buildings for its classes. Schielke’s pioneering spirit though drew him to the new college in the fall of 1967.
“I really look back with a great deal of satisfaction and parental instincts on how successful Waubonsee has become,” he said. “It has really evolved into something special. Had we not taken a chance, where would the thousands of students have gone to school? It’s a great regional success story.
Even though Schielke had most of his classes at the New England Congregational Church in Aurora and other temporary sites including a closed down junior high school in Yorkville, he still managed to find many of the student activities that are the hallmark of Waubonsee student life today — he just had to make up the rules as he went along. Foreshadowing his future political path, Schielke was chairman of the committee that wrote the original student government constitution. Having been involved with the Batavia High School yearbook and student newspaper, he was similarly responsible for starting the Waubonsee student newspaper, Insight, which still flourishes today. He served as editor of the paper for a semester — discovering another of his life’s callings.
During his time at Waubonsee, Schielke recalls fondly those that positively influenced him and helped him on his path to success. Journalism instructor and Insight sponsor Shirley Borel, in particular, helped foster a love of journalism that he pursued upon graduation by working as a reporter and later editor of the Batavia Herald. He also remembers the impact of one of Waubonsee’s earliest guidance counselors, Dorothy Becker.
“All the students called her, ‘Ma,’ because that’s what she was — a mother to us all,” he said.
After Waubonsee, Schielke enrolled at Aurora University. Following an active duty stint in the National Guard and his time at the Batavia Herald, he earned his bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, his interest in politics led him to run for mayor of Batavia — a position he has held since 1981. His time in office makes Schielke the longest-serving mayor in Batavia history, which is appropriate since his family has lived in Batavia since 1835 — two years after its founding.
In his time as mayor, Schielke has guided the city through a period of tremendous growth including the explosive growth along the Randall Road corridor.
“Everybody knew that the region would grow,” he said. “Not everybody knew how dynamic the growth would be.”
Schielke lives in Batavia with his wife, Linda, who is the assistant superintendent of schools in Bloomingdale.