Chemistry instructor, Gene Forster has been selected by a vote of his peers as the Loren P. and Velma Dallas Outstanding Teacher of the Year at Southeastern Illinois College for 2015-16.
Criteria for the award include at least three years of full-time employment; participation above and beyond classroom assignments; competence in one’s field or discipline; continuing one’s education and participating in professional development activities; rapport with students; personal commitment to higher education and the transfer of knowledge to students; upholding and encouraging ethical behavior of self and students; and giving freely to prepare students for their chosen careers.
Forster is a graduate of St. Louis University where he received his Bachelor of Chemistry in 1983. He then worked as a paint chemist in Evansville, IN until 1987, when he entered Ohio State University. In 1990, he completed his Master of Science in Chemistry at OSU.
“Education has always been a means to a more interesting career for me,” said Forster. “I discovered at an early age that the things I was interesting in doing – astronaut, scientist, spy – required a lot of advanced education. Also, it has been a way to challenge myself intellectually.”
Forster started working as a full-time faculty member in August of 1992 and will retire June 30, 2016. In addition to teaching chemistry, Forster coached the college bowl team and was a co-advisor for the Math and Science Club for several years. He has taken part in all aspects of the college, from committees to student events to teaching adult education courses.
An innovator, Forster developed and has delivered Chemistry 123, inorganic chemistry online since 2006. Students were receptive to the online version of this class. While all of the theory is taught online, labs are still held at SIC.
“The online version has worked out well for motivated students that, because of work or other commitments may not be able to take the traditional form of the course,” said Forster. “This innovation, as well as many others have been suggested by others. I have had some really great mentors at SIC, including Al Morgan, Jim Armour and Frank Schneider. They have all had the strongest effect on my teaching style.”
SIC President, Dr. Jonah Rice said, “Gene and I were hired around the same time, so we’ve sort of grown up together at Southeastern. I think the faculty chose well with their selection of Gene for this award as he has helped many students during his tenure.”
The selection of Forster as SIC’s outstanding faculty member for 2015-16 also makes him eligible for the 2016 Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) Outstanding Faculty Member Award.
“I am honored that my colleagues think that I deserve such an award,” said Forster. “I have had the chance to work with some really amazing people and bright, inquisitive students. That has been very rewarding.”
Lorna Dallas-Brown, who lives in New York and England, and the late Ellen Wiggins, daughters of the late Loren P. and Velma Dallas of Carrier Mills, established the Loren and Velma Dallas Outstanding Teacher Award in honor of their parents in 1996. Their father, a founding member of the Southeastern Illinois College Board, was passionate about education. Loren and Velma Dallas gave tirelessly to young people and wanted to provide opportunities for higher education in southern Illinois. Each year the Dallas endowment through the SIC Foundation awards $500 to the Outstanding Teacher of the Year.