The Hope College Alumni Association will present two Distinguished Alumni Awards during Alumni Day on Saturday, May 5.
Being honored this year are Dr. Larry Siedentop, who is a 1957 graduate from Oxford, England, and Carl Ver Beek, who is a 1959 graduate from Grand Rapids.
The annual Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented by the Alumni Association Board of Directors in recognition of the awardees' contributions to society and service to Hope. The award, presented during the college's Alumni Banquet, is the highest honor that alumni can receive from the college's Alumni Association.
Siedentop is retired after three decades as an Official Fellow of Keble College and The Faculty Lecturer in Political Thought at the University of Oxford in England. He is author of the book "Democracy in Europe," which has earned acclaim internationally for its role in informing discussion of the unification of Europe.
He graduated from Hope with a history major in 1957 and went on to complete a master's at Harvard, where he won the Bowdoin Prize. He subsequently received a Marshall Scholarship, through which he pursued his D.Phil. at Oxford.
His publications include the books "The Nature of Political Theory" (with David Miller, Oxford University Press); "Tocqueville" (Oxford University Press); "Guizot's History of Civilization in Europe" (Penguin Classics); and "Democracy in Europe" (Allan Lane-Penguin). "Democracy in Europe" has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and has been credited with influencing the convening of the European Constitutional Convention.
After retirement, he was invited to be the Visiting Fellow (the Rector's Guest) at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Wassenaar; while there in the autumn of 2003 he was invited by the Dutch Foreign Ministry to take part in discussions about Turkish membership in the European Union. He was subsequently elected as The Queen Victoria Eugenia Professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, for the first six months of 2004, and spent the autumn of 2004 as a Visiting Fellow in the Philosophy and Public Affairs program at the Unviersity of St. Andrews in Scotland.
In November 2004, he was invested with a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace for services to political thought and higher education. He has delivered invited lectures around the world, including at Princeton, Columbia and the University of Texas at Austin in the U.S.; the prestigious Bilderburg Meeting; and during the German Reunification Day ceremonies in Berlin. On April 13 of this year he is being featured as an invited guest of honor at The Hague during a symposium on the European citizen, hosted by the Amsterdam Royal Palace Foundation, whose participants will include Queen Beatrix.
Ver Beek is semi-retired after a 40-year career in law with Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett LLP, where he continues to serve Of Counsel.
He graduated from Hope with a history major, and completed his juris doctorate at Indiana University School of Law. He has spent his career with Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett, his practice focused on labor and employment relations.
Ver Beek has been active in professional service at the state and national level. He was a member and chair of the state's Attorney Grievance Commission, appointed by the Michigan State Supreme Court. He has also served both the State Bar of Michigan and the American Bar Association (ABA) in a variety of ways, including as an Employer Member of the ABA's Council of Labor and Employment Section and as a member of the Labor and Employment Section of the ABA's Committee on Alternate Dispute Resolution.
In 2004, he received the State Bar of Michigan Labor and Employment Law Section's Distinguished Service Award for exemplifying outstanding service and professionalism in the practice of labor and employment law. He is also a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and listed in "Best Lawyers in America" and "Who's Who in American Law."
Ver Beek served on the college's Board of Trustees from 1957 to 1991. He has played a leadership role in numerous community organizations, including Bethany Christian Services, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Rapids Rotary, Holland Home and Jellema House, and he currently serves on the Board of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. His service to the Reformed Church in America has included chairing the General Program Council, serving on the General Synod Executive Committee, and chairing the Committee on Structure and Funding, in addition to more than 30 years on consistory at Hope Reformed Church.
He and his wife, Sandra, who is a Hope classmate, have three children, all of whom are also Hope graduates: Stephanie Vaas, Todd Ver Beek and Kathryn Groendyk. They also have three grandchildren.