That was about 20 years ago, and the professor of physical sciences has been sharing his direct knowledge of the wonders of the earth with eager AC scholars ever since.
“It was a winding journey, but it led me to where I think I’m supposed to be,” said Hobbs, who earned a master’s degree at Oklahoma State University before completing his Ph.D. at the University of Wyoming.
“I was fortunate to have caring professors at both those institutions – good role models is what they were – people who loved what they did and were invested in my success,” he said. “Hopefully I’m carrying that forward to my students by showing my excitement for the subject and my investment in their success.”
Hobbs, who chairs AC’s Biology and Physical Sciences Department, teaches courses in geology, oceanography, meteorology and astronomy. His lectures incorporate not only the essence of authoritative textbooks but his own vast reservoir of personal experiences, as well.
“When I’m teaching oceanography, I’ve been across the oceans,” Hobbs said. “I can share my firsthand experiences. For geology, I have been to places around the world, so I can relate what I’ve seen geographically to what we do in class.
“Good faculty,” he says, “are always trying to improve their knowledge.”
To that end, Hobbs frequently takes advantage of robust research opportunities throughout the land. In recent years, he has attended in-depth workshops – about oceanography at the University of Washington; ice-core testing to pinpoint past climates at Dartmouth College; and an ocean-sediment study conducted at Texas A&M University.
He also helps teach a five-week capstone course each summer up in craggy Colorado for senior geology majors soon to graduate from Oklahoma State University.
“All those opportunities allow me to bring valuable experience back into the classroom,” Hobbs said. “As an instructor at the summer field camp for geology majors, I get to interact with other geology faculty from around the country.
“I always come back here energized and wanting to share new ideas with students, like how we can use ice cores to pull out climate data from a thousand years ago.”
Hobbs, whose own academic path to a doctoral degree began at a community college in Oklahoma, knows a thing or two about value in higher education. He says AC’s outstanding faculty and small classes are attributes worthy of serious note.
“I’ve had education myself from quite a few different institutions,” Hobbs said. “I had a university biology class where the only time I ever saw the instructor was during class time twice a week – way down at the bottom of some big lecture hall filled with more than 300 people.
“Here, our classes have about 25 to 40 students, and our outstanding faculty is unmatched it its commitment,” he said. “They are personally involved in each and every one of the students in their classes, and that’s a big advantage.
“A successful educator to me is someone who truly enjoys their subject matter and can convey that enjoyment and love to the students in a way that will best meet their needs,” he said. “It’s what I strive to do.
“I want my students, when they leave the class, to realize that their new knowledge doesn’t have to stay in the classroom – that they can take that knowledge with them and go out and view the world through different eyes.”