posted January 21, 2011

Last Lecture Series to Feature Glenn Van Wieren

Dr. Glenn Van Wieren, professor emeritus of kinesiology and retired men's basketball coach at Hope College, will present the address "Life's Little Lessons" on Monday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Van Wieren will be speaking through the "Last Lecture Series" organized by the college's Alcor chapter of the national Mortar Board honorary society to feature members of the faculty.  The chapter will give away 100 copies of "Incarnate Leadership" by Bill Robinson and 50 copies of "Go for the Gold" by John Maxwell to the first 150 in attendance.

The title of the lecture series, which the chapter initiated during the 2008-09 school year, is rhetorical.  The lectures are not literally presented as the last that the speakers will deliver at Hope, but are meant to highlight the advice that they would most want to share if the event was indeed the final opportunity for them to address the college's students.  The professors are being asked to reflect on their careers and lives, and to think deeply about what matters to them and about what wisdom they would like to impart.

The concept was inspired by the "Last Lecture" delivered at Carnegie Mellon University by Dr. Randy Pausch on Sept. 18, 2007.  Pausch, a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty who had terminal pancreatic cancer -- a fact known at the time that he spoke -- presented "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams."  He died on July 25, 2008, at age 47.

Van Wieren, who retired at the end of the 2009-10 school year, joined the faculty in 1966, and coached the Flying Dutchmen men's basketball team for 33 seasons.

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.  The college's alumni H-Club presented him with its "Hope for Humanity Award" during Homecoming this past fall.

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.

Van Wieren graduated from Hope in 1964.  He completed his master's degree at Western Michigan University in 1968 and his doctorate at Brigham Young University in 1973.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 228 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

The Alcor chapter has existed at Hope since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.  During the 2010 Mortar Board National Conference in July, the chapter received the organization's highest honor for a collegiate chapter, the Ruth Weimer Mount Chapter Excellence Award.  The chapter also received eight "Project Excellence Awards," including for the Last Lecture Series.

The chapter also sponsored a "last chance talk" during the 1960s.  The idea back then was to invite a faculty member to express his/her ideas under the hypothetical assumption that this would be the last opportunity to address the student body.  The late Dr. D. Ivan Dykstra, professor of philosophy, delivered the first "last chance talk" in the spring of 1962.

The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.