posted August 12, 2009

Convocation Will Open New School Year

The 148th academic year at Hope College will begin formally with the college's Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 30, at 2 p.m. in the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The featured speaker will be Dr. Peter Schakel, who is the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Professor of English at Hope.

Residence halls for new students will open on Friday, Aug. 28, at 10 a.m., with New Student Orientation beginning later that day and continuing through Monday, Aug. 31.  Residence halls for returning students will open on Sunday, Aug. 30, at noon.  Fall semester classes will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 1, at 8 a.m.

Hope facilities will again be put to good use.  Based on projections, the college is anticipating more than 800 freshmen and transfer students and an overall enrollment of more than 3,100 for the sixth consecutive year.

The major change greeting students will be the return of Graves Hall, which is reopening with the start of classes after being closed since May 2008 for an adaptive restoration.  The $5.7 million project has emphasized restoring the character of the 1894 building as it existed before major interior renovations in the 1960s and 1980s while also meeting contemporary standards for access, safety and use.  A variety of re-dedication activities are being planned for the college's Homecoming Weekend, which runs Friday-Sunday, Oct. 9-11.

Work has also progressed on the Van Andel Soccer Stadium.  Hope broke ground on Friday, May 1, and a dedication is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17, when both teams have home games.

In addition, the college relocated its Mouw Cottage/Spanish House from Lincoln Avenue between 11th and 12th streets to 14th Street west of Columbia Avenue, and also razed the former Sixth Reformed Church building to make way for potential future projects.

Schakel has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1969, and has held his endowed professorship since 1984.

He is an internationally respected scholar of C.S. Lewis's work.  He has published seven books on Lewis, including most recently "The Way into Narnia: A Reader's Guide" in 2005 and "Is Your Lord Large Enough?  How C.S. Lewis Expands Our View of God" in 2008.

Schakel has also written and edited books on Jonathan Swift and 18th-century British literature, and has co-authored or co-edited four literature and poetry textbooks with colleague Jack Ridl, professor emeritus of English.

In 2004, Hope presented him with the "Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Award," bestowed upon a faculty member who is a superior teacher and has also contributed significantly to some other area of professional life.  He has received external recognition including a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) fellowship for college teachers during 1979-80; NEH summer seminar support in 1981, 1987 and 1997; and Mythopoeic Society Scholarship Awards in 1984, 1992 and 1996.

Schakel graduated from Central College in Iowa in 1963.  He completed his M.A. at Southern Illinois University in 1964, and his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin in 1969.

The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave., between Ninth and 11th streets.