posted September 8, 2008

Donald Cronkite to Receive Association’s Highest Honor

Dr. Donald Cronkite of the Hope College biology faculty has been awarded the highest honor bestowed by the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT).

Cronkite, a professor of biology and member of the Hope faculty since 1978, is receiving the association's "2008 Honorary Membership Award" for his distinguished teaching and service in the biological sciences.  He will receive the award, which includes lifetime membership in the association, during the NABT's National Professional Development Conference, which will be held in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 15-18.

"Honorary Membership is the highest honor given by NABT and recognizes individuals who have achieved distinction in teaching, research, and service in the biological sciences," said Todd Carter, who is the 2008 NABT president and a member of the biology faculty at Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kan.  "Dr. Cronkite's many teaching awards, publications, and presentations for scientists, educators, and the public certainly meet the criteria for this honor.  However, perhaps most important to the mission of NABT is his passion for teaching and his success with helping teachers at all levels improve student learning in biology."

It is the third time that the NABT has presented Cronkite a national award.  In 2006, he received the association's "Evolution Education Award" in recognition of "innovative classroom teaching and community education efforts to promote the accurate understanding of biological evolution."  In 1995, the NABT presented him with its "Four-Year College Biology Teaching Award."

Through the years he has received national recognition from other organizations as well.  In March of 2005, he was named the 2005 "College Teacher of the Year" by the Michigan Science Teachers Association. In 1991, he was one of only 700 faculty members recognized nationally with a 1990-91 Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.

He has also received recognition from the campus community. In 1988, he was named a co-recipient of the college's Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award by the senior class and served as Commencement speaker.

Cronkite is a specialist in genetics. His teaching interests include introductory biology, embryology, cell biology, genetics, the history of biology, evolutionary biology, and science and human values.

He is the author of the books "A Problem-Based Guide to Basic Genetics," currently in its fourth edition and written for college-level courses; "Genetics and Cell Biology," for middle-school students; and "A Guide to 'Asking About Life, 2nd edition' for Teachers and T.A.'s."  He has also had several research articles published in scholarly journals and book reviews essays in multiple publications, including several in "The Church Herald," "Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought" and "The Reformed Journal."

Until recently, Cronkite was a member of a multidisciplinary committee formed by the National Council of Churches to lead the U.S. ecumenical community's work on issues of human genetic technology.  For several years, he was moderator of the Christian Action Commission of the Reformed Church in America, the college's parent denomination.

Cronkite was academic director for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation National Leadership Institute for High School Biology Teachers from 1991 to 1997, and is profiled on the foundation's Web site concerning his involvement in the program. He has been a science curriculum consultant to 21 different colleges. With help from the National Science Foundation, he has been involved in forming high school-college partnerships to enhance science education at the secondary level. He has been active on campus in presenting workshops for his colleagues regarding the appropriate use of technology in teaching.

He also directed pre-college outreach programs at Hope which were funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, including a sixth/seventh-grade science recreation program, a seventh/eighth-grade science demonstrators program and a ninth/10th-grade research club.

Cronkite has also held visiting research appointments at the University of California-Santa Barbara, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Maryland, the Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole and Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. Prior to joining the Hope faculty, he taught at the University of Redlands in California.

He holds his bachelor's degree and his doctorate, both in zoology, from Indiana University at Bloomington.

The NABT, formed in 1938, is comprised of more than 9,000 biology educators and administrators, representing all grade levels, from the United States and abroad. In addition to the national conference, NABT's activities include a variety of publications, multiple seminars and workshops geared toward professional development, and educational projects funded through outside grants.