Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger of the Hope College religion faculty has been named the first holder of the John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Endowed Professorship.
The chair was established by the college's Board of Trustees as a retirement recognition in honor of Dr. John H. Jacobson, who was 10th president of Hope College, and his wife, Dr. Jeanne M. Jacobson, who was an adjunct member of the Hope education faculty and a senior research fellow with the college's A.C. Van Raalte Institute.
The professorship is designated for a tenured faculty member with a commitment to the Christian faith who is an outstanding teacher-scholar or artist and who proposes to conduct a significant program of research or creative activity. The chair is open to faculty from any department, with appointment for a four-year term. Bouma-Prediger will hold the chair beginning with the 2003-04 school year.
"Steve Bouma-Prediger is a most worthy recipient of the John and Jeanne Jacobson Endowed Chair," said Dr. James N. Boelkins, provost. "The excellence of his teaching, scholarship, service and commitment to the mission of Hope College are readily apparent to everyone who knows Steve. His humble spirit, his Christian commitment, his love for students, his office full of books and his concern for the stewardship of God's creation all speak to the importance of Steve to the Hope community. So, it was with great enthusiasm that President Bultman and I, with the concurrence of the Deans' Council, recommended Steve for the Jacobson Endowed Chair."
Bouma-Prediger has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1994. He was invited to deliver the college's Commencement address by the graduating Class of 1998, was elected the recipient of the college's "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator" (H.O.P.E.) Award by the graduating Class of 1999, and was chosen by the college's students to receive the "Faculty Teaching Award" during Homecoming in 2001.
He has written four books concerning ecology and theology. His most recent, "For the Beauty of the Earth," won an "Award of Merit" from "Christianity Today" in the theology/ethics category of the magazine's "2002 Book Awards" program. In December of 2000, his book "Evocations of Grace: Writings on Ecology, Theology, and Ethics," which he co-edited with Peter Bakken, was one of only five books named "editor's picks" book of the year by "Christian Century." His other books are "The Greening of Theology: The Ecological Models of Rosemary Radford Ruether, Joseph Sittler, and Jurgen Moltmann" and, with Virginia Vroblesky, "Assessing the Ark: A Christian Perspective on Nonhuman Creatures and the Endangered Species Act."
A fifth book, "Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Postmodern Age," co-authored with Brian Walsh, is forthcoming from Eerdmans Publishing Co. He is also the author of numerous published scholarly articles and essays, and has presented many papers and invited addresses.
For many years, Bouma-Prediger led wilderness backpacking and canoeing trips, a practice he continues for a Hope May Term course focused on ecological theology and ethics that he co-teaches in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. He is a member of numerous professional societies, as well as the Evangelical Environmental Network and the Macatawa Greenway Partnership.
Prior to coming to Hope, he was an assistant professor of philosophy and chair of the department at North Park College in Chicago, Ill. While he was at North Park College, "The Chicago Tribune" named him to its 1994 "All Professor II" academic team, which recognized 50 outstanding faculty from smaller Chicago-area colleges and universities.
Bouma-Prediger has also taught at Fuller Theological Seminary, Toronto School of Theology and Western Theological Seminary, and in the Creation Care Study Program at Jaguar Creek in Belize and on Great Barrier Island in New Zealand. A 1979 Hope graduate, he holds an M.Phil. from the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, Ontario; an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary; and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
The Board of Trustees announced the endowed professorship in conjunction with the Jacobsons' retirement at the end of the 1998-99 school year. John Jacobson had been president since 1987, and Jeanne Jacobson had joined the education faculty and began her work with the A.C. Van Raalte Institute in 1996. Although the Jacobsons in retirement live in Sarasota, Fla., she continues to work with the institute with emerita status.
During John Jacobson's presidency, Hope's enrollment grew from 2,710 to 2,911. The college's growth is reflected in additions to campus including the Knickerbocker Theatre (1988), Lugers Fieldhouse (1991), DeWitt Tennis Center (1994), Haworth Inn and Conference Center (1997) and Cook Residence Hall (1997).
Academic highlights included one national and two state "Professors of the Year," and the appointment of three students as "British Marshall Scholars." Hope was in the top 25 nationally among baccalaureate colleges as a source of Ph.D. recipients from 1991 to 1995 in the natural, physical and social sciences, according to a report by the National Science Foundation in 1997. Hope also became the only private, four-year, liberal arts college in the country to have national accreditation in art, dance, music and theatre.
Also from 1987 to 1999, the college implemented and successfully concluded the "Hope in the Future" capital campaign, which raised $58.1 million. Hope also conducted strategic planning for the current "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" campaign, announced in the fall of 2000.