posted May 4, 2003

Sociologist Donald Luidens Wins H.O.P.E. Award

Commencement at Hope College became a father-daughter event for the Luidens family this year.

Hope senior Martha Luidens was among the 630-plus members of the Class of 2003 who participated in the college's graduation activities on Sunday, May 4. Her father, Dr. Donald Luidens of the sociology faculty, also received recognition, but as a surprise: he was named the "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator."

The "H.O.P.E." award, first given in 1965, is presented by the graduating class to the professor who they feel epitomizes the best qualities of the Hope College educator. In previous years announced during the college's Honors Convocation in April, the recognition was instead shared during Commencement this year so that the presentation could be made before the entire senior class as well as other members of the Hope family.

Luidens, a professor of sociology, has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1977. He taught courses during this year including the introductory "Sociology and Social Problems," "Criminology I" and "Criminology II," "Theoretical Perspectives" and "Senior Seminar," as well as independent study in sociology.

He joined the faculty as an assistant professor, was appointed to associate professor in 1983 and was promoted to full professor in 1993. He is a past chair of the department of sociology, and during 1989-90 he served on the college's Board of Trustees as a faculty representative.

In the 1980s he led students on study-abroad programs in both Japan and Israel. He has for several years served as one of the college's "faculty marshals," leading the senior class during its march to both Baccalaureate and Commencement on graduation day.

In 1987, he received the "Outstanding College Sociology Teacher of the Year Award" from the Michigan Sociological Association.

Luidens has been studying membership trends in mainline Protestantism for more than two decades. He is the co-author of the book "Vanishing Boundaries: The Religion of Mainline Protestant Baby Boomers," which received the 1994 "Distinguished Book Award" from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion." He is co-editor of three books: "Rethinking Secularization: Reformed Encounters with Modernity," "Reformed Vitality: Continuity and Change in the Face of Modernity," and "Reformed Encounters with Modernity: Perspectives from Three Continents."

His publications include numerous articles in scholarly journals. An article he co-wrote with Hope sociology colleague Dr. Roger Nemeth for "The Church Herald," the denominational magazine of the Reformed Church in America (RCA), received an "Award of Excellence" in the 1998 Awards Contest of the Associated Church Press.

He and Nemeth, who have conducted joint research into issues of Protestantism and the RCA since 1986, led a seminar concerning their research during the "Winter Happening" program presented by the college's Alumni Association in February of 2002. They are co-organizing the triennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Reformed Communities (ISSRC) that will be held in Edinburgh, Scotland this July.

Luidens has received or co-received a variety of external grants in support of his research. Hope students have been active participants in the projects.

His 26 years on the faculty represent only a portion of his Hope history. He and his wife Peggy are both members of the Class of 1969. His parents Edwin and Ruth were members of the Classes of 1940 and 1942 respectively. All four of his grandparents were also Hope alumni: Anthony and Mae Luidens, both of the Class of 1912, and Miner and Dureth Stegenga, both of the Class of 1915.

After completing a history major at Hope, Luidens went on to earn a master of divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1972, and a master's and doctorate at Rutgers University in 1974 and 1978 respectively.

In addition to Martha, who graduated with a sociology major and will be continuing with engineering courses in the fall, he and Peggy have another daughter, Sara, who is a graduate of the College of Wooster and in April completed her MSW at Western Michigan University.