Dr. Leslie Wessman of the Hope College faculty has been appointed to the college's new Arnold and Esther Sonneveldt Endowed Professorship in Education.
The chair is designated for a member of the
education faculty who is an outstanding teacher and
demonstrates a commitment to the Christian faith and to
preparing young people for the field of education. The
chair was established in the Sonneveldts' honor by their
"An endowed chair is a very generous gift and
often, as in this case, recognizes the great service and
dedication to education and the church by the people for
whom the chair is named," said Dr. John H. Jacobson,
president of Hope College. "For the college, an endowed
chair provides an opportunity to give recognition and
encouragement to a person who has served in an exemplary
fashion and who shows promise of continuing to do so."
"Dr. Leslie Wessman has served the college
extremely well as a teacher in the department of education,
and in recent years through wise and energetic leadership as
chair of the department," he said.
In addition to recognizing faculty members for
excellence, endowed chairs provide funding for summer
research projects as well as some salary support. The
college has a total of 12 endowed chairs for faculty.
Arnold and Esther Sonneveldt are leaders in the
bakery business in West Michigan and dedicated church
leaders in the Reformed Church in America, the college's
parent denomination. They have four children, all of whom
attended Hope: Nancy, Cindy, Susan and Robert.
The Sonneveldt family founded Crescent Bakery in
Grand Rapids in 1906. The bakery eventually became today's
Arnie's Inc., a bakery and restaurant chain.
Wessman joined the Hope education faculty in 1990.
She has chaired the department since 1996.
She sponsored and mentored the college's education
students as they formed the first student chapter of the
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
(ASCD), a professional education organization with 190,000
members worldwide. The Hope chapter was organized in 1993.
In January, the West Michigan Annual Conference of
the United Methodist Church presented her with the 1997
"Francis Asbury Award for Fostering United Methodist
Ministries in Higher Education." She was a member of the
denomination's General Board of Higher Education and
Ministry, a national-level appointment, from 1989 to 1996,
and chaired the Campus Ministry Committee of the board's
Division of Higher Education. She played a leadership role
in developing "Vision and Reality," the division's visioning
document, and contributed to the writing of "Education: The
Gift of Hope," a local church study book.
She was a member of the West Michigan Board of
Higher Education and Campus Ministry of the United Methodist
Church from 1983 to 1996, and also chaired the board.
Since joining the Hope faculty, Wessman has made
addresses or led workshops on topics ranging from team-
building in middle schools, to altering the attitudes and
perceptions of preservice secondary teachers, to brain
research and its implications for teaching and learning.
She is a member of several professional associations,
including the Association of Governing Boards of
Universities and Colleges.
Prior to joining the Hope faculty, she was
director of the Michigan Out-of-Formula District Association
in Lansing. She had previously also been a master teacher
at LaVerne University in California, and had held teaching,
counseling or administrative positions at secondary schools
in Hawaii, Rhode Island, California and Colorado.
She holds a bachelor's degree from the University
of Wyoming, a master of arts from Northwestern University, a
master of science from California State University-
Fullerton, an M.H.R.D. from University Associates and a
doctorate from Michigan State University.