posted October 3, 2007

Nancy Miller Receives Athena Award

Dr. Nancy Sonneveldt Miller of the Hope College faculty has received the third annual Lakeshore ATHENA Award.

Miller, who is the dean for the social sciences and a professor of education at Hope, was honored during a luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the Trillium Banquet and Conference Center in Spring Lake.  The event celebrated all of the award's 21 nominees, who also included another member of the college's administration:  Vanessa Greene, director of multicultural life.

"We at Hope College are pleased to have had two outstanding members of our administrative staff honored through the ATHENA Award program," said Hope College President Dr. James E. Bultman.  "Both Nancy and Vanessa have made important contributions to the life of the college and the area, and richly deserve recognition for their dedicated service to Hope and the community.

Of Miller specifically, Bultman noted, "She is a servant-leader who performs as well in the forefront as she does behind the scenes.  She has distinguished herself with her work not only at the college but also in a variety of community organizations and her church.  She is a most worthy recipient."

The ATHENA Award honors exceptional individuals who have demonstrated excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession; provided valuable service by contributing time and energy to improving the quality of life for others in the community; and actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential.  The Lakeshore ATHENA Awards program is a collaboration of the Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg; the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce; and the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce.

Miller has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1968, and has served as dean for the social sciences since 1985.  The departments within her academic division include communication; economics, management and accounting; education; kinesiology; political science; psychology; and sociology and social work.  She is also responsible for the college's CASA (Children's After School Achievement), PATH (Program for the Academically Talented at Hope), Project TEACH (Teachers Entering A Career through Hope) and Upward Bound programs, all of which are designed for local school children, as well as the intercollegiate athletic program and the Carl Frost Center for Social Science Research.

Miller has served the college in a variety of ways, including as interim provost during 2001-02 and as a faculty representative to the Board of Trustees.  She chaired the Hope committee that developed the college's MarthaMillerCenter for Global Communication, which opened in the fall of 2005.  In 1995 she delivered the college's Baccalaureate sermon.

She was integral to the development of Hope's maternity/parental leave policy, a policy, she says, that today is generous and flexible.  She has also encouraged recruiting women, and takes pride in the fact that 50 percent of the faculty and administrative staff positions in the social sciences are held by women.  Overall, at least 40 percent of Hope's faculty is female, up from less than 20 percent when she joined the faculty.

Miller has been a member of the Board of Trustees for Western Theological Seminary since 2001, and currently serves on the executive committee, is the vice-moderator, moderator of the academic committee and chair of the presidential search committee. For more than 30 years, she and her husband Phil have coordinated the Christmas Project for Bethany Christian Services, a program that provides gifts for each child that Bethany has in its foster and residential care, more than 400 each year.  She is also on the board of "Breakfast with Baby," an outreach program based at Fourth Reformed Church to serve pregnant moms and infants under one year of age.

Her past community involvement includes having served three terms on the Board of Education of the Holland Christian Schools.  She has been an elder at ChristMemorialChurch, and has served the Reformed Church in America (RCA) in a variety of ways, including as an at-large representative with the General Synod Council.

She and Phil received an Outstanding Volunteer Award from the West Michigan Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2004.  In 2001 they received the "Family Award" from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.

Miller is a 1962 Hope graduate.  She holds a master's degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from Michigan State University.  Prior to joining the Hope faculty she had taught at the elementary and junior-high level in the Wyoming Public Schools.

She and Phil have three grown children, Christopher, Derek and Melinda, and two grandchildren.

The ATHENA Award is presented annually by chambers of commerce, women's organizations and universities.  Since the program's inception in 1982, more than 5,000 awards have been presented in more than 500 communities in the United States, Canada, China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.  By honoring exceptional leaders, the ATHENA Award Program seeks to inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives.

The previous recipients of the award locally were Nancy Crandall, former mayor of Norton Shores, in 2005; and Nancy McCarthy, former president and CEO of Hackley Visiting Nurse Services and Hospice, in 2006.