Dr. Sobek and David Voorhees of Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Community College received national recognition at the recent 2022 American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) annual conference in New York City. College leaders received recognition for the positive impact they have personally made at the college, in the classroom, and across the nation. 

David Voorhees, Professor of Earth Science and Geology was recognized with the Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty designation. Recipients of this faculty distinction are recognized as individuals who go beyond what is required to ensure that students succeed in their academic endeavors. Voorhees was also selected as a finalist for one of AACC's newest awards in 2022, Faculty Member of the Year, which is part of the AACC’s Awards of Excellence. The Awards of Excellence include several categories that underscore the association's priorities and bring national visibility to leaders among its member colleges. 

Voorhees has served as a full-time Earth Science and Geology faculty member at Waubonsee since 2002. Voorhees' passion for teaching geoscience education is evident through the many opportunities he pursues to increase student learning and engagement in and outside of the classroom.  Voorhees earned a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in Geology from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

Voorhees has researched effective pedagogies to bring the most effective teaching to his students. Voorhees began his research with his geology colleagues, which soon grew to his participation in the SAGE 2YC project (Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education at Two Year Colleges). This project has provided Voorhees with transformative pedagogies, which has benefited his students.   

Voorhees has also brought real-time seismic data into geoscience classrooms and labs using a simple seismometer included in the Educational Affiliate membership of Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology (IRIS) that he obtained for Waubonsee. Since 2005, he has cataloged over 1,200 earthquakes that have formed an extensive database used in many Earth Science and Geology classes and two student Honors projects. Voorhees uses the observation wells in the wetlands adjacent to Waubonsee's Sugar Grove Campus in Geology labs and a "flipped" Earth Science class. Several students have completed Honors projects that included these seismic data and the observation wells and have successfully entered Skyway STEM poster competitions.  In addition, Voorhees has served as one of two faculty liaisons with Waubonsee’s Faculty Development and Engagement Department and has facilitated professional development opportunities developed by faculty for faculty including Waubonsee’s participation in the Association of Colleges and Universities Effective Teaching Practices course.

Dr. Christine Sobek, President of Waubonsee Community College, was also selected as a finalist for one of AACC's newest awards for 2022, CEO of the Year. The CEO of the Year is also a part of the AACC's Awards of Excellence. 

Dr. Sobek became the fourth president of Waubonsee Community College on July 1, 2001; in this role, she is responsible for the overall leadership of the college, which serves more than 14,000 students each year, employs approximately 1,100 employees, and provides educational programs and services across four campus locations.  

Dr. Sobek's efforts transformed and strengthened the college by achieving its infrastructure growth outlined in the 2020 College Master Plan five years earlier than projected and under budget. Under Dr. Sobek's stewardship, the college saw its most recent significant expansion with the construction of five new buildings on the college's Sugar Grove Campus, the opening of the new Aurora Downtown Campus location, and the opening of the new Plano Campus.

Throughout her career, Dr. Sobek has demonstrated an enduring commitment to developing faculty and staff. Prior to becoming President, Dr. Sobek led the creation of a Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT). Dr. Sobek envisioned and led a reorganization creating Faculty Development and Engagement (FDAE) and Employee Development departments replacing the CTLT in 2018. These new departments continue the focus on leadership and professional development specializing in the unique needs of these different employee groups. 

Under Dr. Sobek’s leadership, Waubonsee has received three consecutive Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (Title V) grants from the U.S. Department of Education. These grants provide us with resources and opportunities to serve our large percentage of Latinx, low-income, and disadvantaged students of all backgrounds. One of our new Title V projects that will serve both our students and community members is the creation of a Latinx Resource Center at our Aurora Downtown Campus which recently held its Grand Opening.

Dr. Sobek currently serves on the Alliance for Innovation and Transformation (AFIT) Executive Committee as Secretary/Treasurer. In this role, she works with other forward-thinking higher education CEOs committed to leading by example to provide learning, development, and networking opportunities to challenge themselves and others to innovate and transform their organizations in the face of unprecedented challenge and change. In 2017, Dr. Sobek completed a three-year term on the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Board of Directors. As part of her role, she also served as Chair of the Commission on Leadership and Professional Development and developed a values statement for the AACC Competencies for Community College Leaders.

Dr. Sobek recently announced her retirement, effective January 4, 2023 and was also recognized at AACC during the annual Hail and Farewell Luncheon and Annual Business Meeting. In recognition of Dr. Sobek's 21 years of distinguished service, commitment, leadership, and contributions as President of the college, the Board of Trustees has approved the bestowing of the honorary title of President Emeritus upon her retirement. 

AACC is the primary advocacy organization for the nation's community colleges. The organization represents nearly 1,200 two-year associate degree-granting institutions and more than 12 million students. Each year, AACC offers a variety of awards to individuals who have excelled in their fields and who have given back to their communities. The Waubonsee community congratulates this year's winners and applauds their efforts in making a difference in our community and beyond. 

Pictured above: Dr. Christine Sobek, President of Waubonsee Community College, and David Voorhees, Professor of Earth Science and Geology, at the 2022 AACC Annual Conference

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