Renee Skrabacz, associate dean of health professions, math, science, and engineering, began at ECC in 2013 as an adjunct professor in the Biology Department. Skrabacz is a microbiologist that has always held a passion for healthcare, and her current position lets her educational interests collide. Being back on campus, Skrabacz plans to continue a sweet tradition of hers.
“As Retention Specialist and now as Associate Dean, I have been well known in the HPMSE division for the supply of chocolate in my office,” said Skrabacz. “Now that I am back on campus, I am working to replenish my supplies, so stop by for a treat!”
Health and science aren’t the only subjects where Skrabacz shines; she also loves to act and sing! Read on to learn more about her experience in community theater and some exciting new things happening in her department!
In your words, what do you do at ECC? What do you want others to know about your job? Or what would help others understand your job? I provide support and resources to the dean, faculty, staff, and students in the Health Professions, Math, Science, and Engineering division, which I think, of course, is the best division on campus! I am honored to work for such an amazing dean, Dr. Wendy Miller. We are a dynamic duo. I am a microbiologist but have always had a love and interest for healthcare and even came very close to applying to medical school back in the day. My current position combines all of my education passions. We have amazing faculty in HPMSE doing great things in their online and campus classrooms every day that I get to see. I am very excited about our new Ophthalmic Technician Certificate Program, which will launch in Fall 2022. It will be great to see the third floor of Building A expanding with new healthcare programming to serve our students and the community. We are also currently working on developing a Medical Assistant program. More to come! If you are interested in learning more about one of our many health professions programs, come stop by for a chat.
What is your greatest accomplishment since you’ve been at ECC? My greatest accomplishment thus far at ECC was starting the Academic Associate Deans group back in 2019. The deans all meet weekly, and I have my weekly one-on-one with my dean, but I felt I could benefit from meeting with others in the same role as myself at the college. When our meetings first began, I was only in the second year of my new role. There are six women total as part of the academic associate dean group, and three were hired after me. Since most of us were relatively new in our roles and some even brand new to the college, I felt a monthly meeting to discuss our roles within our respective divisions, our challenges, and professional development opportunities would benefit all. We quickly found that although we all hold the title of Associate Dean, the job looks a bit different for each one of us. These meetings (whether in-person or on Zoom) offer a monthly opportunity to share our thoughts and seek feedback in an informal setting. We have become a support to one another, especially with the continued professional and personal challenges we have faced this past year.
If you could instantly be an expert in one thing, what would you choose? Wastewater Treatment. I have always been fascinated with water sanitation since taking a tour of Chicago's Metropolitan Water Reclamation District at age 13.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work (i.e., hobbies/interests)? Walking. My day is not complete until my Fitbit buzzes telling me I have all my steps for the day. I also enjoy watching Netflix and playing card/board games with my two teenage daughters when they have time for me. That was one huge plus of the pandemic-more time with my daughters!
Where is the best place you’ve traveled? Or where would you like to visit? I have never been, but I hope to travel to Italy one day.
You have to wear a t-shirt with just one word on it for an entire year. What would that word be, and why? Patience. This pandemic has been really tough. We all need to practice patience with one another.
Share a fact about you that might surprise people to learn. I really enjoy participating in local community theatre, especially with my two teenage daughters. I have been in productions of “Wizard of Oz” and “Shrek” with them. Yes, I can act and even sing a bit.
What job have you held (besides ECC) that was the most fun, interesting, or difficult? Explain why. One of the most difficult job positions I held was in the food service department as an undergrad in the University of Wisconsin-Madison residence halls. Working as a “dish pick 1” in the dish room was tough and disgusting work. A shout out to Food Service for all that you do!
What was your most valuable life lesson? Always have a Plan B, C, and sometimes D. Life does not always go as planned. You need to be flexible and resilient when life challenges come up.
Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “ We make a difference in the lives of our students and have a real impact on our community.