SFCC Garners Two Awards from the Association of Community College Trustees
The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) recently presented regional awards to a South Florida Community College science professor and a former trustee at its 41st annual Leadership Congress in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Erik Christensen, professor of physics, astronomy, and mathematics and chair of the college’s Natural Sciences Department, received the 2010 Faculty Member Award for the Southern Region. Wendell “Winkie” Williams, a former member of the SFCC District Board of Trustees, received the 2010 Trustee Leadership Award for the Southern Region.
ACCT is a non-profit educational organization that represents more than 6,500 community college trustees and 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and throughout the world. Each year, ACCT presents five awards in five regions of the United States, as well as five national awards.
Christensen came to SFCC seven years ago, following a distinguished, 22-year career in the U.S. Navy. As an educator, Christensen has developed new approaches to teaching difficult subjects and has infused both his traditional classroom and online courses with cutting-edge technology and new methods of communication. He has shared his approaches with SFCC and other community college instructors through Web-based workshops, at the annual conferences of the Florida Association of Community Colleges (FACC), and at national conference of Desire To Learn (D2L).
As an administrator, Christensen has been actively involved in developing the standards of knowledge and ability students should possess upon completing general education courses. He helped create an Academic Master Plan that determines how finances are spent on upgrading technology throughout the college’s four locations; a new strategic plan that outlines the college’s goals for the next six years; and a new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that will help freshmen navigate the first year of college. He is now assisting with the college’s process of being reaffirmed for its accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
This year, Christensen became an official Open Textbook Advocate/Trainer with the Community College Collaborative (CCOTC). Three years ago, Christensen adopted and modified open textbooks for his physics classes, thereby reducing each student’s textbook costs from $222 to $13. He shares his knowledge of open textbooks through national online discussion boards and other forums. Additionally, Christensen is a member of the Activity Based Physics Faculty Institute (ABPFI) and is a reader for the Educational Testing Service (ETS) advanced placement examinations in physics. SFCC’s Student Government Association (SGA) named him the Full-Time Faculty Member of the Year for 2004-05 and Instructor of the Year for 2006. In 2005, he received the SFCC President’s Award for Employee of the Year, and in 2006 he received the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Develop (NISOD) Excellence Award.
“I am deeply humbled and honored by this award,” Christensen said. “It is such a privilege to serve our college and to know that every day I am helping to achieve our shared vision of enriching our communities through education, one life at a time.”
Winkie Williams is an SFCC alum who served seven years on the SFCC District Board of Trustees (1976-83) and was a founding member and president of the SFCC Foundation, Inc. In 1983, Williams became a charter member of the Community College Coordinating Council, which evolved into the State Board of Community Colleges. “I want to be part of building Florida into the top-ranked United States educational system. I support excellent educational opportunities for everyone, regardless of his or her position in life,” he said at the time. Williams served on the State Board for 18 years – longer than any other charter member – and was its chairman twice before retiring in 2000. That same year, the Florida Association of Community Colleges (FACC) recognized Williams’ dedication to community colleges by presenting him with its highest honor, the LeRoy Collins Award.
“I believe in the community college system,” Williams said. “After high school, many students cannot afford to go to universities. With community colleges, all students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree or learn vocational skills.”
“We are very proud of Winkie Williams and Erik Christensen for representing our college with distinction,” said Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr., SFCC president. “It is rare for a college to have one award recipient in a given year since there are over 1,200 members colleges in the association and only five regions. It is quite unique and perhaps unprecedented for any college to have two recipients of these regional awards. We congratulate both of these fine individuals and thank them for their exemplary service to our college.”