Rockford, Illinois

Faculty Bios

Deb Abney

Current semester office hours:  Mondays & Wednesdays- 10:30am-12:30pm, Tuesdays- 10:00am-11:00am


Lori Alfe

Current semester office hours:  Tuesdays & Thursdays- 10:20am-12:25pm

Ying Chi

A Chinese transplant in 1985, Ying Chi earned her MA in English at University of Central Arkansas and Ph.D. in English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Since 1991, she has taught at Philander Smith College, Arkansas; Troy University, Alabama; and Rock Valley College. She was a recipient of National Endowment for Humanities Dissertation Fellowship in 1993. Her dissertation, Artist and Attic:A Study of Poetic Space in the 19th Century Women's Literature was published in 1999 by University Press of America.She specializes in teaching developmental writing and in her spare time, she quilts for babies.

Current semester office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays- 8:45am-10:00am, Tuesdays & Thursdays- 12:00pm-1:15pm

Frank Coffman

B.A. English and Secondary Education, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois

M.A. English, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

M.S. Journalism, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All But Dissertation (ABD) on the PhD in English, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb

Comprehensive Exams passed in 19th c. and Modern British Literature and American Lit. Since the Civil War

Special interests in Popular Imaginative Literature across the genres of Adventure, Detection & Mystery, Fantasy, Horror & the Supernatural, and Science Fiction; Creative Writing; Stylometric Analysis of Literary Texts; Eclectic Criticism with emphases in Symbolic/Myth crit., Structuralism/Formalism, and Rhetorical Criticism.

Published some poetry and literary criticism.Book: Robert E. Howard: Selected Poems; Work in progress: The Sonnets of Robert Ervin Howard.

Current semester office hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays- 8:20am-8:50am & 2:50pm-3:20pm, Wednesdays- 10:50am-11:50am & 1:00pm-2:00pm

Karen Courtney

Karen Courtney is a Northwestern Wildcat (BA English, MS Education), a Catholic Cardinal (MA English), and a Northern Huskie (PhD English) who joined the Rock Valley College Golden Eagles in 2000.  Her best days in the classroom involve lively discussions in Contemporary Literature or inspired arguments in Composition II.  Her best days out of the classroom involve travel, family, dogs, yoga, and Cheetos. 

Current semester office hours: Mondays- 1:30pm-2:30pm, Tuesdays & Thursdays- 10:00am-12:00pm

Stephen Donahue

Stephen Donahue joined the faculty at Rock Valley College in 2002 after completing a Doctor of Arts degree in English at Idaho State University.  He also holds two master's degrees, one in English and one in Creative Writing, and is currently Academic Co-chair of the Department of Composition and Literature.  Stephen began his career teaching English as a Second Language and lived and worked in Taiwan and South Korea for several years prior to teaching college English."

Current semester office hours: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays- 9:00am-10:00am, Wednesdays- 12:30-1:30pm

Sarah Etlinger

Sarah EtlingerA Midwest transplant (and proud resident of Milwaukee), Sarah earned her Ph.D in rhetoric and composition, with a focus on new media studies, in May of 2012. Her interests include the Beatles (which is both an academic and personal interest), new media, and popular culture. Her proudest classroom moment came a few years ago when she helped a student realized that writing depends on readers in order to be fully understood. It is the proudest moment because it crystallized what is, at least for Sarah, a struggle with the very nature of communication itself. When not teaching, Sarah's interests include cooking, knitting, hanging out with her dog and her husband, dreaming about traveling, sitting at Milwaukee coffee shops, and cheering on the Packers. 

Current semester office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays- 9:00am-10:15am & 11:30am-12:30pm, Tuesdays & Thursdays- 12:00pm-2:00pm online

Mary Flynn

Mary is a life-long resident of Rockford and a RVC graduate.  She has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from ISU , a Master's degree from St. Xavier University in teaching and leadership, and a Master's degree from NIU in educational administration.  Mary's favorite place to be is in the classroom, whether it be as the student or the teacher.  She has been teaching in the Developmental Reading Department at RVC for five years and she thrives on the immense progress her students make throughout the course of her semester with them.  When not in the classroom, Mary enjoys spending time with her family, attending her two children's sporting events, scrapbooking, shopping, golfing, and downhill skiing.

Current semester office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays- 12:00pm-2:30pm

Theresa Paulette Gilbert

Professor Gilbert earned her Bachelor's of Arts in English from Illinois Wesleyan University and her Master's of Arts in English and American Literature and the Humanities from Stanford University.  She teaches composition and literature courses, and especially enjoys any opportunity to teach Contemporary African Literature and either of the Non-Western Literature courses. She is passionate about diversity and social justice and devotes time and energy to the important work of promoting both. She loves reading, sports, and traveling.  Her past travel adventures include England, Europe, and Africa (where she and her family lived for several years and loved it!).    

Current semester office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays- 10:00am-10:30am & 12:00pm-12:30pm @ LOC, 5:45pm-6:45pm @ Main campus, Tuesdays- 5:00pm-5:30pm & 8:45pm-9:15pm

Joann Heck

A strong advocate for community college education, Joann earned her Associates of Arts degree from Rock Valley College. She earned a BA with a major in English at Northern Illinois University and went on to complete her Master of Arts in English at NIU. Joann likes to remind students of the impact that other community college students, like Gwendolyn Brooks, George Lucas, Eileen Collins, Tom Hanks, Walt Disney and others have made as she encourages each student's unique potential.  Prior to entering the academic arena, Joann worked in the business world as a Marketing Director and Business Development Executive in the Managed Care, Health Care, and Electronic Security Industries.  Her passions include teaching, shopping, traveling, (during the summer when she's not teaching and buried under a stack of papers) and spending time with her loud but very loving family.

Current semester office hours: Mondays- 9:00am-9:50am online, Tuesdays- 5:45-6:15pm, Wednesdays- 8:10am-11:00a

Shu-Huei Henrickson
Current semester office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays- 7:15pm-8:15pm, Tuesdays- 7:15pm-8:35pm, Wednesdays- 1:00pm-1:50pm online

Heather Maher

Current semester office hours: Mondays- 6:00pm-6:50pm, Tuesdays- 1:30pm-2:20pm, Thursdays-3:35pm-4:15pm, Fridays- 12:25pm-1:15pm

Rob Mawyer


Rob Mawyer came to Rock Valley College in 2007 after teaching full-time at Heartland Community College in Normal, IL. He was hired as a developmental writing specialist, meaning that he teaches multiple sections of English 99 each semester, and he regularly teaches English 101. Additionally, he often delivers a section of Literature 144, Introduction to Fiction. No matter which class he teaches, though, Rob hopes, to borrow from the scholar Lee Odell, to see the student's "mind at work." In other words, he wants to see writers taking risks, pushing the limits of their imaginations, and expanding their ways of knowing the world.

Academically, Rob counts bell hooks's Teaching to Transgress, Mina Shaughnessy's "Diving In," and David Bartholomae's "Inventing the University" among the texts most central to his understanding of how a teacher should be in the classroom. His scholarly work (when he has time to do any!) usually explores the ways college teachers represent students in their writing. In a perfect world, he would teach a class devoted exclusively to HBO's critically acclaimed television series The Wire, which is simply the best, most important TV show Rob has ever seen.

Outside of the classroom, Rob runs long distances and does a lot of push ups and pull ups. He is quite confident he can outrun any other faculty member on campus, and if anyone wants to step up and challenge him they can bring it!! He has two daughters, Ella and Mazie, who are the two finest, funniest, steadiest people he knows. 

Current semester office hours: Mondays- 9:00am-11:00am, Tuesdays- 8:00-8:50am, Wednesdays- 9:00am-9:50am & 11:00am-11:50am

Matt Oakes

"Ours is in the trying. The rest is not our business." - T.S. Eliot

Matt Oakes earned an Honors BA at the University of Toronto, an MA at the University of British Columbia, and is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As an instructor, Matt asks his students to take full consideration of rhetoric and language in forming our social world. At the same time, Matt is committed to social justice and imagines his and his students' role as rhetoricians as central to advocating for equity: if the world is first imagined in language, we can re-imagine it. Students can expect to think and write about language, society, politics, the arts, and popular culture. Students can also expect to hear about Matt's favorite people in the world: his wife Courtney and their kids, Liam and Molly. 

Current semester office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays- 10:30am-11:45am, Tuesdays & Thursdays- 3:00pm-4:00pm

David Pink

David Pink earned a Ph.D. in English at the University of Minnesota.He has published fiction, poetry, and scholarship in journals such as Green Mountains Review, American Literary Review, Western Humanities Review, Salmagundi, Prairie Schooner, The North American Review, Minnesota Monthly, Pemmican, and Solo, among others.As a journalist, he has written articles for ArtPaper, Minnesota Daily, and was a staff writer for The Shining Times and The Minnesota Management Review. He has received grants and awards from the Loft-McKnight Foundation, the Edelstein-Keller Fund, the Academy of American Poets, Lake Superior Writers, The Nicholas Roerich Museum, and the North Dakota Humanities Council.He originated the magazine that is now Red Weather at MSUM, and initiated the visiting writer series at RVC.

Current semester office hours: Mondays- 5:00pm-5:45pm & 7:25pm-8:10pm, Tuesdays & Wednesdays- 7:25pm-8:45pm

Jonathan Poore

Jonathan PooreAs an undergraduate in his native England, Jonathan Poore majored in American Studies and Philosophy. He has turned this academic interest into a life project by moving to America and having deep thoughts. He received his Master of Arts in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2006, and is currently completing his doctoral dissertation on the emergence of the idea of the middle class in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature. Jonathan has taught courses focusing on topics as diverse as the economics and psychology of brand marketing, art and intellectual property in the digital age, utopian and dystopian fiction, and the politics of 1970s Hollywood cinema. When not thinking quite so deeply, he enjoys watching bad reality TV, sampling the culinary delights of this great nation and (in an attempt to counteract the effects of the TV and culinary delights) running.

Current semester office hours: Tuesdays- 10:00am-1:15pm


Cheryl Rinker

Current semester office hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays- 3:15pm-3:45pm @ SCCE, Wednesdays- 12:00pm-1:00pm & 5:00pm-6:00pm, Thursdays- 11:00-12:30pm

Kerri Shaw

Current semester office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays- 10:30am-11:45am, Tuesdays & Thursdays- 10:15am-11:30am

Mary Sieracki

My career in education began in North Carolina as a middle school and high school teacher.  Desiring to be closer to family, my husband and I moved to Dixon, Illinois, where  I was afforded the unique opportunity to teach in my home town at Dixon High School. Upon the arrival of our children, I took some time away from my career to stay home with them for a few years.  In 2004  I became an adjunct for RVC and  was hired as a full-time reading instructor  in 2008.   I completed my undergraduate work at  Monmouth College and I earned my MAT from Rockford College.  My interests include reading, snow skiing, baking, spending time with my family and two cats, and cheering for my children at entirely too many sporting events and activities.

Current semester office hours:  Mondays & Tuesdays- 9:00am-10:25am, Wednesdays- 9:00am-10:20am

Molly Sides

Current semester office hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays- 11:45am-1:30pm

Donna Soltys

"College is a Choice" is a statement you will hear frequently in her ENG 082 and ENG 097 classes. Donna is very happy you made that choice and enrolled at Rock Valley College, and her goal is to help you develop the writing skills you will need to be successful in your college courses and ultimately throughout your life's experiences. These courses teach sentence to paragraph to essay with a focus on grammar. Using a unique approach to learning, Donna combines power points, lectures, and extensive student engagement to achieve positive outcomes. Donna's first degree was from RVC, so she believes she truly knows the community college student. In addition, Donna's love for travel allows her to bring her vast international experiences, which include trips to China, Tibet, Russia, Western and Eastern Europe, Mexico, and many Caribbean countries, to the classroom to enrich and relate to many of her students.

Current semester office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays- 7:15am-7:45am & 1:20pm-2:55pm. Tuesdays 7:15am-7:45am, Thursdays 8:55am-9:55am

Bill Walters

Bill Walters grew up near Liberal, Kansas (How's that for an oxymoronic place name?) and studied and worked at colleges and universities in Kansas, Missouri, and Indiana before taking a position at RVC and moving to the Rockford area in 1989.His favorite courses to teach, out of the eleven different ones he's taught during his long career here, are probably The Bible as Literature and Introduction to Linguistics.He enjoys writing poems and has published a few in nationally circulated literary magazines. Other things he likes to do include playing golf, following college sports, and raising Labrador retrievers.

Current semester office hours: Mondays & Wednesdays- 8:30am-9:00am, Tuesdays & Thursdays- 8:45am-10:30am

Kenny Webb

Kenny WebbIn an era where the science fiction of a mere decade ago is the plain old science of today, composition has undergone a corresponding revolution. Kenneth Webb, who is teaching English 103 (Composition II) and Literature 139 (Mythology) this academic year, explores the ways that writers need to adapt to a world of constantly evolving media while maintaining a core focus

on specific writing strategies that will give students an edge through their college careers and into the workplace.

Students in Kenneth's classroom can expect to see microblogging, sketching, popular culture, and digital workshopping of papers to be the norm. Previous assignments in Kenneth's classes have included the creation of games and instructions, product reviews, analyses of iconic images, and podcasts.  Accordingly, students should expect to have many opportunities to take the reins of their education and the conversation within the classroom as they explore exactly what writing can mean.

Current semester office hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:00pm-4:00pm

Jennifer Roloff Welch

Jennifer Roloff Welch, Instructor in the Department of Composition and Literature, earned her BA with majors in English and French from Augustana College. She earned a Master of Arts in Teaching English under the supervision of George Hillocks, Jr. at the University of Chicago. Her second master's and Doctorate in Education were completed at Harvard University. Dr. Roloff Welch has written and co-authored articles related to teaching English and teaching in the university. Her interests include reading, writing, teaching, and spending time with her family and three dogs.

Current semester office hours: Tuesdays- 11:00am-2:20pm, Thursdays 10:00am-10:50am online

Mary Wolf

2012 marks Mary Wolf's 25th year of teaching, the last six of those years have been as a teacher of Developmental Reading classes at Rock Valley College. Mary is a strong advocate of community colleges due to the educational opportunities provided by North Iowa Area Community College in her hometown of Mason City, Iowa, where she received her Associate of Arts Degree. Her education continued at the University of Arizona where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English Education, started a Master's Degree in Special Education at Arizona State University, and a Master's Degree in Guidance and Counseling at South Dakota State University.

Mary lives in Rockford with her husband, Rich. They have two children, Richie, who has a Master's Degree in Information Technology from Northern Illinois University, and Liz, who has her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago.

Having the opportunity to teach at RVC, a community college that provides educational opportunities for everyone, is an honor and a privilege for her.

Current semester office hours:  Mondays- 10:45am-11:45am & 1:30pm-2:45pm, Thursdays- 11:50am-1:20pm