Contributions Span Entire Program
While it is not unusual
for church connections to bring people to Hope, in Dr. James Zoetewey’s
case it happened with a couple of extra steps.
Growing up in Colorado Dr. Zoetewey attended Denver Christian School,
an institution with strong West Michigan connections.“I think
almost every teacher I had was a Calvin graduate,” he said. “Many
of my classmates went to Calvin.” And so it was natural for him to head
to Grand Rapids for his undergraduate education as well.
He enjoyed his college experience and, significantly, he also appreciated what
he learned about other schools in the region. As a result, when he had completed
his doctoral coursework back West at the University of Colorado, he welcomed
the opportunity to join the political science faculty at Hope in 1966.
In the 41 years since, he has taught nearly every course his department has
had to offer, several within his field of American government but also including
international relations, comparative government focusing on Europe, and religion
and politics, among others. He was department chair for 17 years, beginning
1971 when he assumed the mantle from Hope teaching legend and department founder
Al Vanderbush ’29.
Dr. Zoetewey led the college’s spring Washington
Honors Semester six times,
and also led eight of the department’s Washington May Terms.
He describes the Washington semester as “an extraordinary program,” noting
that students have typically found their time in the city—including internships
with offices and organizations ranging from human-service agencies to Congress
and the White House—transforming. The program has provided an important
opportunity for him as a scholar as well.
“In a sense that’s my lab,” he said. “Together we have
the opportunity to meet with the decision-makers on the cutting edge of the issues
facing our country. That was very valuable—wonderful for the classroom
and valuable for the thinking processes.”
Dr. Zoetewey also expanded his knowledge of his discipline through National
Endowment for the Humanities and Project ’87 summer study awards. His own scholarly
work has included the instructor’s manual for the textbook American
Government: Essentials and Perspectives, and co-authoring the book’s third edition
with colleagues Dr. Robert E. Elder Jr., Dr. Jack E. Holmes and Dr. David K.
Ryden as well as Dr. Michael J. Engelhardt ’79.
Since Professor Vanderbush retired in 1972, Dr. Zoetewey has also been the
coordinating pre-law advisor,
guiding hundreds of Hope students in their quest to gain admittance to law
school. He has correspondingly been active in pre-law
advising professional associations, his service including a year as president
of the Midwest Association of Pre-law Advisors and a year on the Pre-law Advisors’ National
Dr. Zoetewey’s wife Karen is also retiring this year, after spending her
career teaching in the Zeeland Christian Schools. Together the couple plans to
spend time with family (children James ’91, Lisa ’94 and Derek ’98
are all nearby, as, therefore, are their two grandchildren), travel and pursue
Although as an undergraduate he cheered on the Knights, since coming to Hope,
Dr. Zoetewey noted, he has been a strong fan of Hope athletic teams (although
he does root for his alma mater if it makes the playoffs and Hope hasn’t).
In the same way, he ends his teaching career an enduring fan of Hope in general.
“I for one am very happy that Hope is a Christian institution and strives
to keep itself a Christian liberal arts college,” he said. “I’ve
liked the people, I’ve liked the students, I’ve liked my colleagues—all
very good people to work with.”
“These have been good years,” he said. “I don’t regret
for a moment that I’ve worked here for 41 years.”
(This article originally appeared
in the April 2007 issue of News from Hope College)