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Faculty Profile: Huw Lewis
Professor of Music

Dr. Huw Lewis, professor of organ in Hope’s department of music, greatly values the college’s dedication to the arts.

“Hope is very unusual in the importance it places on the arts in the generaleducation curriculum,” he says. He notes that although many schools require an introductory arts course in their curriculum, Hope goes a step further.

“At Hope, you have to create art, not just read about it. You have to have a ‘ hands on’ experience with it at some point. To me, this speaks volumes about the value Hope places on the arts,” he says.

Dr. Lewis also appreciates the attitude of the students at Hope. He notes that while the arts often attract a competitive crowd, he has never experienced the negative side of competitiveness in his students.

“Jealousy among students is conspicuously absent at Hope,” says Dr. Lewis. “While students want to be their ‘best selves,’ they also want others to succeed.”

In addition to interacting with goodnatured students, Dr. Lewis finds that he encounters an atmosphere of passion for learning and teaching, which helps make Hope the inviting place it is.

“When students come to visit our campus, they invariably comment on the warm feel to the place,” says Dr. Lewis. “They say, ‘Everybody’s so nice,’ and I know what they mean. But the reason students — and faculty — are so good to be around is that people are really excited about being here. Their excitement is palpable.”

One of the aspects of teaching at Hope that Dr. Lewis particularly enjoys is the opportunity he has to interact with students from a broad range of musical backgrounds.

“While I have professionally-oriented students who will go on to graduate school to pursue a degree in organ and church music, I also have students from many disciplines who have never played the organ before. I get to teach them from scratch, and I love it,” he says.

Dr. Lewis says that the magnificent organ in his studio is evidence that students also appreciate the opportunity to study the organ, even when they are not music majors. “This organ was a gift from a grateful alum,” he says. “But he was not a music alum: he was a chemist who had studied organ here and whose interest in the organ was fostered while at Hope.”

Hope’s emphasis on providing such opportunities to students, particularly within the arts, helps to make it a place to which students develop deep connections, according to Dr. Lewis. “Students feel very much a part of a family — the Hope family — and that continues long after their degrees are finished.”

This profile was written by Danielle K. Johnson, a 2008 Hope College graduate from Kalamazoo, Mich., for the 2008-09 Hope College Catalog.

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