posted April 12, 2010

Five Members of the Faculty to Retire

A total of five members of the Hope College faculty are retiring at the end of the school year.

Retiring are Dr. James Boelkins, provost and professor of biology; Dr. Donald Cronkite, professor of biology; Dr. Robin Klay, professor of economics and management; Dr. Glenn Van Wieren, professor of kinesiology; and Karla Wolters, professor of kinesiology.  Their combined service to Hope totals 138 years.

James Boelkins has served at Hope since 2002.  A 1966 Hope graduate, he has worked in higher education administration for 39 years, including 25 years as the chief academic officer at Hope and other institutions.

He has valued the opportunity to play a role in strengthening the mission of the college:  "to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith."

Boelkins identifies his most important contributions as the recruitment of more than 80 outstanding faculty, supporting the excellent teaching and scholarship by faculty, supporting the mission of Hope, participating in the design of new and renovated academic facilities, and the restoration of the Skinner organ in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.  He has also emphasized building even closer ties between the academic, campus ministries and student life programs to create a more holistic experience for students.

The college's students presented him with a special award in recognition of his service to Hope during Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 10.

He has been active in professional associations and local organizations.  Among other activities, he chairs the Great Lakes Colleges Association Deans' Council, the Advisory Committee of the Van Andel Institute Graduate School, chairs the Board of Directors of Wedgwood Christian Services, and is active in his church.

He and his wife, Barbara, have three grown children, Matthew, Jonathan and Melissa.

Donald Cronkite has received multiple awards in honor of his excellence as a teacher since joining the Hope faculty in 1978.

In 2008, he received the "Honorary Membership Award" from the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), the association's highest honor, for his distinguished teaching and service in the biological sciences.  The NABT had previously awarded him its 2006 "Evolution Education Award" and its 1995 "Four-Year College Biology Teaching Award."

In March of 2005, he was named the "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 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 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.

His numerous contributions to teaching excellence beyond campus have included serving as academic director for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation National Leadership Institute for High School Biology Teachers from 1991 to 1997 and a science curriculum consultant to 21 different colleges.  His publications include the books "A Problem-Based Guide to Basic Genetics," "Genetics and Cell Biology," and "A Guide to 'Asking About Life, 2nd edition' for Teachers and T.A.s."

He and his wife, Jane, have three children:  Ethan, Joel and Emily.

Robin Klay has taught at Hope since 1979.  Her primary research emphasis is on the connections between Christian faith and practice and economic theory and policy.   It's an emphasis that has also been reflected in her commitment to service.

Her doctoral dissertation was inspired by a summer spent working closely with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union in California.  After graduate school, she spent three years teaching and doing research in Cameroon.

During her time at Hope, she has taught International Economics, Economic Growth and Development, History of Economic Thought, Labor Economics, and Principles of Macroeconomics.  Her publications include the books "Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices," "Counting the Cost: The Economics of Christian Stewardship" and "Inflation, Poortalk and the Gospel."

In 2008, she received a "Faculty/Staff Community Service-Learning Award" from Michigan Campus Compact in recognition of her role in establishing the college's "Hope Blooms" off-campus study program in Mexico, an internship experience that emphasized service and cultural immersion.  Among other activities through the years, she helped start an "English as a Second Language" program at Fourth Reformed Church, working with Hope students and others.  In 1991, she received the "Washington State Governor's Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service" for introducing and integrating an "Each Can Helps" donation program to help meet the needs of food banks in Yakima County, a response to a need that she observed while visiting her parents in the community.  She was a founding member of the Board of Trustees for the charter-based Black RiverPublic School which, in 2006, was selected by "Newsweek" as one of the nation's 100 best high schools.

Her son, Nathan, is currently enrolled at Hope.

Glenn Van Wieren, who graduated from Hope in 1964, joined the faculty in 1966.

Coach of the Flying Dutchmen men's basketball team for 33 seasons, he ends an association with HopeCollege basketball that spans 50 years, dating back to his playing days in the early 1960s.

He nurtured a basketball program that is highly regarded across all of NCAA Division III. Averaging exactly 20 victories a season over 33 years (660-219), he had just one losing season. The 2009-10 Flying Dutchmen posted a 21-8 record to mark a school-record 31st consecutive winning season. Van Wieren entered the 2009-10 season ranked the fifth-winningest coach in NCAA Division III history, both in victories (now 660) and winning percentage (now .751).

He guided the Flying Dutchmen to a record 17 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championships and appearances in 21 NCAA Division III post-season tournaments, including this past season. His teams advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen six times, to the Elite Eight four times and the final four three times, most recently in 2008. Hope finished second in the nation twice (1996 and 1998) and was third in 2008.

Van Wieren recorded his 600th victory faster than any Division III coach in history. He coached two teams (1983-84 and 1994-95) through unbeaten regular seasons. He coached in 87 "Rivalry" games against CalvinCollege, posting a 46-41 record.

In 2006 he was honored by the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame with the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan in 2003.

While at Hope, he also coached baseball, cross country and soccer. He is among the winningest coaches in MIAA history with a total of 19 league championships in basketball, baseball and soccer.

His wife Jacquelyn (Jackie Nyboer) is a 1967 Hope graduate. The Van Wierens have four daughters, Gretel, Heidi, Kuria and Rebekah.

Karla Wolters, a 1973 Hope graduate who joined the faculty in 1987, has both taught and coached throughout her time at the college.

During the past school year, her classes included the upper-level Introduction to Physical Education course as well as activity classes in sports ranging from korfball to cross-country skiing.

She has a passion for the history of sports and a special interest in the history of the Olympics and women in sports. She enjoys sharing this historical information and her collection of antique sports equipment with her students and community members.

Wolters has been softball coach since the spring of 1988, and has brought a new level of success to the program, leading the Flying Dutch to five NCAA Division III tournament appearances.  She was named the Region softball coach of the year in 1991, 1992 and 1995, and the Hope staff was honored by the MIAA in 2006. She is ranked the fifth-winningest NCAA Division III coach all-time.

In addition to softball, Wolters has coached volleyball, field hockey and women's tennis during her time at Hope.  A member of the faculty and coach at CalvinCollege - where she was named national Division III coach of the year in volleyball--before coming to Hope, she is among the most successful coaches in the history of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association with 20 conference championships in softball, volleyball and women's basketball.

She also introduced the sport of korfball to Hope and western Michigan through a class she taught. In the fall of 2005 Hope entertained a Korfball team from Europe and the next summer a team comprised of Hope students and recent alumni traveled to Europe for a series of games. Wolters served on the governing board of USA Korfball and in 2007 was an assistant coach on the USA team that competed in the World Championships in The Czech Republic.

In 2008, Hope honored Wolters and her husband, Tom, who is also a 1973 Hope graduate, by naming the new softball stadium in their honor.