ICCTA Outstanding Faculty Member Award

2001 Recipient


Dr. Erika Hartmann
South Suburban College

The chair of the English Department at South Suburban College is Illinois' outstanding community college educator for 2001.

"Great teaching comes from the heart, and Erika Hartmann embodies all the attributes of a great teacher," said ICCTA executive director Dr. Gary Davis. "She has developed an impeccable record of excellence spanning her 33 years of teaching."

SSC trustee Patricia J. Wojcikowski also praised Dr. Hartmann, commenting that "Some teachers view teaching as a job. Erika views teaching as the greatest learning experience of her life."

ICCTA past president Lin Warfel (right) congratulates Outstanding Faculty Member winner Dr. Erika Hartmann of South Suburban College.
ICCTA past president Lin Warfel
(right) presents the 2001 Outstanding
Faculty Member Award to Dr. Erika
Hartmann of South Suburban College.

As chair of South Suburban's English Department, Hartmann has championed the incorporation of computers and the Internet into the teaching-and-learning process.

"It is unusual when English faculty will lead the charge on computer integration in curricular reform, but that is exactly what has transpired at SSC!" said Dr. Diane Ostojic, dean of liberal arts and sciences. "Dr. Hartmann and the English faculty have integrated computers so that every English 101 class is scheduled in a computer room."

Ostojic also noted that the SSC English Department was the first on campus to request and design ‘smart classrooms,' using state of the art technology. "Dr. Hartmann's enthusiasm for these projects has guided fellow faculty to make changes in their own instructional strategies and incorporate technology so that our English department is a leader in incorporating technology uniformly," she said.

In addition to computer integration, the English Department has implemented holistic grading of student papers. Hartmann herself has trained full-time and part-time faculty in holistic grading techniques, and she continues to lead her colleagues as she uses portfolio assessments for her students -- a technique which soon may be more widely conducted departmentally and institutionally.

"Dr. Hartmann is passionate about her subject matter and equally passionate about student success," said Douglas Tweeten, SSC vice president of academic affairs. "Students inured to failure learn a different path once they enter Dr. Hartmann's class, and she continues to mentor her students after they leave her class."

Her commitment to student success can also be seen through her work with the college's Academic Assistance Center. As the Center's founding director, Hartmann converted a smoking lounge into a study center and hired a few student workers to offer tutoring services. Today the Center serves over 3,000 students and employs 25 tutors.

In addition, Hartmann has attempted to address the changing demographics of South Suburban College's student population by developing new multi-cultural courses, such as "Introduction to Women's Literature" and "Ethnic, Minority and African-American Literature." She has also conducted post-doctoral work at the University of Arizona on leadership and change, women's literature, and multi-cultural literature.

"That is, after all, what is so exhilarating about teaching in a community college," said Dr. Hartmann. "We are immediately responsive to the needs of our students and our community.

"Hopefully I do not appear sentimental or maudlin when I tell you I would rather teach at South Suburban College, where we have so many "broken wings." When I hear from former students, I know I have impacted their lives and perhaps added to the quality of their lives. For me, that is authentic teaching," she said.

Hartmann also plays a vital role in the shared governance model of South Suburban College. She is a member of the Faculty Association Executive Board, the Curriculum Committee, the Academic Standards Committee, the Outcomes Assessment Committee, and other campus committees and task forces.

Despite her many college commitments, Dr. Hartmann continues her professional and personal development through her involvement in the Illinois Community College Faculty Association, the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Council on Student Development, the Council on College Composition and Communication, the National Association for Developmental Education, the Midwest Modern Language Association, and the American Dialect Society.

She has also been active in the American Association of Women in Community Colleges, where she served as a first vice president for membership recruitment. In 1991 she planned the first AAWCC state conference in Illinois and also presented a session on "The Language of Cultural Diversity."

Hartmann has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to research African-American dialects and from the Canadian Dialect Society to study Canadian speech patterns. A participant in the Great Teachers Seminar (a national workshop for college teachers), she is a 1989 graduate of the National Leadership Institute Program for Women Community College Faculty/Administrators. Recently she received an award from the American Association of Women in Community Colleges for starting a chapter in Illinois.

In addition, she is well-known in her discipline for her scholarly articles on linguistics and for her poetry. She received Honorable Mention for "Trilogy of Contempt" fromThe Writer, and her work has appeared in such publications as the National Anthology of Poetry.

Hartmann also encourages her students to use poetry as a medium of creative expression, both inside and outside the classroom. Recently she assisted the college's Director of Student Development in creating an annual event that gives students and faculty the opportunity to perform creative original works of poetry, short essays, and music.