posted April 2, 2014

Four Faculty Retire after Distinguished Service to College

Pictured from upper left: Dr. Ion Agheana, Dr. Donald Luidens, Richard Piippo and John Tammi, professor of theatre.

Four long-time members of the Hope College faculty are retiring at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Retiring this year are Dr. Ion Agheana, professor of romance languages; Dr. Donald Luidens, professor of sociology; Richard Piippo, associate professor of music; and John Tammi, professor of theatre.  Their combined service to Hope totals 133 years.

Agheana joined the Hope faculty in 1979 after previously teaching at Dartmouth College.  He primarily teaches Spanish, but has also taught French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian.

The graduating senior class named him the recipient of the college's "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator" (H.O.P.E.) Award in 1983.  In 2009, he was invited by the college’s chapter of the Mortar Board honorary society to speak through the chapter’s “Last Lecture Series” featuring members of the faculty.

He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books, including the books “Existentialism and the Dynamics of Surprise,” “The Meaning of Experience in the Prose of J.L. Borges” and “A Reasoned Thematic Dictionary of the Prose of Jorges Luis Borges.”  He is internationally respected as an authority on both Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges and Romanian philosopher and essayist Emil Cioran, and was one of only seven Borges scholars featured in the 1995 book “Conversaciones sobre Borges” (“Conversations about Borges”) and one of only six Cioran scholars featured in the 2007 book “Cioran. El pesimista seductor” (“Cioran. The Seductive Pessimist”).

Agheana is a native of Romania, and graduated from the University of Bucharest in 1961.  He came to the U.S. in the latter 1960s, and completed his master’s and doctorate in Spanish in 1967 and 1970 respectively at Harvard University.

In retirement, he and his wife, Patricia, will remain in Holland.  He has a grown daughter and one grown grandson.

Luidens, a 1969 Hope graduate, has been a member of the faculty since 1977.  In addition to his teaching on campus, he led students on study-abroad programs in both Japan and Palestine/Israel in the 1980s.

In 1987, he received the “Outstanding College Sociology Teacher of the Year Award” from the Michigan Sociological Association.  The graduating class awarded him the “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” (H.O.P.E.) Award in 2003, and the college presented him with the “Janet L. Andersen Excellence in Teaching Award” in January of this year.  In February, he spoke through the “Last Lecture Series” at the invitation of Mortar Board.

Luidens has received or co-received a variety of external grants in support of his research, which has focused primarily on the sociology of religion and the sociology of sport.

He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and five books.  He co-authored the book “Vanishing Boundaries: The Religion of Mainline Protestant Baby Boomers,” which received the 1994 “Distinguished Book Award” from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and co-edited “Rethinking Secularization: Reformed Encounters with Modernity,” “Reformed Vitality: Continuity and Change in the Face of Modernity,” and “Reformed Encounters with Modernity: Perspectives from Three Continents.”  With Hope sociology colleague Dr. Roger Nemeth and colleagues from Calvin College, he authored the book “Divided by a Common Heritage: The Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America at the Beginning of the New Millennium.”  An article he co-wrote with Nemeth for “The Church Herald” received an “Award of Excellence” in the 1998 Awards Contest of the Associated Church Press.

Luidens grew up overseas, the son of Edwin and Ruth Luidens, missionaries serving in the Middle East through the Reformed Church in America.  He was the third generation of his family to attend Hope, graduating from the college with a history major.  He subsequently earned a master of divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1972, and a master’s and a doctorate at Rutgers University in 1974 and 1978 respectively.

He and his wife, Peggy, who is a Hope classmate, will continue to live in Holland in retirement.  They have two grown daughters and three grandchildren.

Piippo has been a member of the faculty since 1999.  He is conductor of orchestras in addition to serving as a professor of cello/chamber music.

He has led the Symphonette, which is a touring ensemble, not only on spring tours in the East, Midwest and South in the United States, but to Canada; England and Wales; and Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia.  In 2007, the Symphonette was one of only four orchestras from around the country invited to perform during the National Conference of the American String Teachers Association.  That same year, the group also performed during the opening-day gala concert of the Michigan Music Conference.

Piippo’s involvement in the community includes serving as conductor of the Holland Youth Orchestra and as principal cellist with the Holland Symphony Orchestra.  Since 1996, he has spent his summers on the faculty of Seminar at Western Michigan University, as conductor, solo performer, teacher and coach.  He also regularly serves as a clinician for secondary-school orchestral music programs.

He began his performing career as a cellist with the Milwaukee Symphony.  His reputation grew when he captured first place in two national cello competitions.  He appears as soloist and chamber player throughout the United States and Canada, and performs as cellist with the Detroit Symphony and the Quartet Millennium.  His work with the Detroit Symphony has included tours of Europe, Japan and Carnegie Hall, and numerous recordings.

Piippo, who in retirement will remain in Holland, completed both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in 1970 and 1975 respectively.  Prior to coming to Hope, he had taught at Wayne State University, Detroit Community Music School and Oakland University.

Tammi joined the faculty in 1968.  He is the founding artistic director of Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, which began in 1972 following the opening of the DeWitt Center and its 500-seat main theatre the previous fall.

He has taught courses including theatre history, directing and playwriting; was director of theatre for the department for several years; and has also directed almost 100 productions at the college, including “Middletown” this past February.  He also co-leads the college’s popular May Term in Ireland, which is continuing this spring, and among other service to the college is a past advisor to the Hockey Club.

Active professionally beyond campus as well, Tammi has worked with the Colonnades Theatre Lab in New York City and directed David Copperfield in “The Magic Man” in Chicago, Ill.  He served as dramaturg for The New Harmony (Ind.) Project, working with Linda Lavin and Patricia Birch, on two occasions, and was the dialogue coach on two major motion pictures, working with Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo and Jonny Lee Miller.

He has participated in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival for more than 40 years, and was awarded the Kennedy Center Medallion for his contributions to the success of that organization and educational theatre in general.

A native of Finland, Tammi immigrated to the United States as a child with his family in 1949.  He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1963, and subsequently attended the graduate program in theatre at the University of Minnesota with further study at the University of Stockholm (theatre history) and Southern Methodist University (directing).

He and his wife, Marilynn, will continue to live in Holland.  They have two grown daughters and three grandchildren.