Named Fund Honors
Herb Dershem for
Herbert Dershem, who played a leadership role in developing the
department of computer science at Hope College, is being recognized
through a lasting tribute with a fitting focus: a student research
fund in his name.
Alumni and faculty colleagues of the department announced the
creation of the "Herb Dershem Summer Research Fund" on
Saturday, April 18, during an appropriate milestone, a reception
scheduled in celebration of the department's 35-year anniversary.
Once fully endowed, the fund will provide support for a student
to conduct research full-time with the department for eight to
10 weeks during the summers, joining students who are conducting
research in the program through other external and internal sources
Dershem is a professor of computer science and director of institutional
research at Hope. He has taught at the college since 1969, five
years before the department of computer science was established
in 1974, and served as the department's chair from 1975 through
2003. In addition to teaching and helping develop the program's
curriculum, he played a significant role in shaping the department's
practice of involving students in original, collaborative research
projects with members of the faculty.
"During his 40 years at Hope, Herb has had a significant
impact on hundreds of people," said Dr. Ryan McFall, an associate
professor of computer science who has taught at Hope since 2000
- and who as a 1993 Hope graduate is also one of Dershem's former
students. "My life certainly would not be the same without
his teaching and mentoring."
"The summer research program at Hope is one of our department's
distinctives, and something very close to Herb's heart, so we thought
it fitting to target giving for this purpose," McFall said.
Dershem held appointments in both mathematics and computer science
before becoming department chair and an associate professor of
computer science in 1975. He was promoted to full professor in
1981, and from January to July 2005 served as interim dean for
the natural sciences at Hope.
Through the years he administered multiple grants to the department
from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of the summer
research program, and mentored numerous students as co-investigators
in his own research work. He has written several articles published
in journals, and co-authored the book "Programming Languages:
Structures and Models" with colleague Dr. Michael Jipping.
In 2002 the college presented him with the "Provost's Award
for Excellence in Teaching," today known as the "Janet
L. Andersen Excellence in Teaching Award."
He has served as director of institutional research at the college
since 2007. He is also directing a three-year, National Science
Foundation-funded scholarship program that supports students who
transfer to Hope to major in biology, chemistry, computer science,
engineering, the geological and environmental sciences, mathematics
or physics after completing work at a community college.
Dershem completed his bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1965
at the University of Dayton, and his master's and doctorate in
computer science at Purdue University in 1967 and 1969 respectively.
In addition to his teaching at Hope, he has held visiting appointments
with the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, the Boston University
Overseas Program and the United States Air Force Academy, and an
associate appointment with the United States Open University.
The college first offered computer science coursework in the latter
1960s as an offering in the department of mathematics: Math 27,
beginning FORTRAN. Today the department has four full-time faculty,
and degree options include a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science
in computer science as well as (through the department of engineering)
a Bachelor of Science in engineering with a computer engineering
Fundraising is continuing to fully endow the "Herb Dershem
Summer Research Fund." Those interested in providing support
may obtain additional information by contacting the college's office
of college advancement at (616) 395-7775.