Three Long-Time Faculty Members to Retire
Posted April 7, 2003
HOLLAND -- When the Class of 2003 marks the end of
its Hope College tenure in May with graduation, three
members of the faculty will be marking the end of theirs
Retiring at the end of the school year are Dr.
Anne Irwin, professor of kinesiology, athletic director for
women and director of intramural sports; Del Michel,
professor of art; and David Zwart, associate professor of
education. Together, they have served the college for a
total of 80 years.
Irwin brought solid credentials as both a
competitor and a teacher-coach when she came to Hope in 1976
after two years on the faculty at Queen's College in New
York. The softball team she had coached while doing
graduate work at Michigan State went on to win the College
World Series. She had competed regionally in volleyball and
field hockey, and nationally in fast-pitch softball and
The experiences served her well. During her time
at Hope, she has coached women's basketball, softball and
field hockey, and assisted in volleyball and women's soccer.
She eventually stopped working with other sports
to run intramurals as her coaching focus. Under her
guidance, the program has grown from about 300 participants
a year in the late 1980s to nearly 1,500 today. The program
includes men's, women's and co-educational competition, with
sports ranging from co-ed basketball to inner tube water
polo to bowling.
Irwin holds a doctorate in biomechanics and
engineering mechanics, a focus that runs in tandem with an
interest in computers. Not finding commercial software that
suited the intramural program's needs, she wrote Hope's
She joined Hope at a time of watershed change in
women's athletics, as Title IX mandated equity with men's
sports. While she notes that the process hasn't always been
easy and remains on-going, she believes that Hope has gone
about it in the right way.
"The emphasis and the effort has always been to
make it equal and make it fair, equitable, for both," she
Further, she noted, Hope has enhanced the women's
program while keeping its men's sports strong. The result
has been national-calibre performances by men and women
both--including the 1990 national championship for the
women's basketball team.
Irwin will remain at Hope through December of
2004. She is relinquishing her role in athletic
administration to concentrate on teaching and running
intramurals, for which she is looking forward to having time
to develop more software.
When she does finish, she plans to run a Web-based
antiquing business. She also anticipates travel between her
Fennville-area, lakeside home and Florida.
Michel had just completed his master of fine arts
degree at the University of Iowa in 1964, and Hope's two-man
department of art was a place to start his artistic and
academic career. He stayed.
"From the very beginning, it's been a very
nurturing environment for me creatively," he said. "The
administration from the very beginning has been encouraging
me to be an artist--through summer grants, exhibitions,
contacts through the college..."
Michel has become internationally known as an
artist in the decades since 1964. In recent years he has
had three exhibits in Queretaro, Mexico, a result of the
college's exchange relationship with the Autonomous
University of Queretaro, and two exhibits in the
Netherlands. His work has been exhibited in galleries and
shows worldwide, and included in many private, corporate,
university and art museum collections.
The department of art--which now has seven full-
time faculty--has had five homes since Michel arrived. From
the fourth floor of Lubbers Hall, the program moved to the
basement of Phelps Hall, a house at Ninth and College and
the old Rusk Building on 8th Street before settling in the
De Pree Art Center in 1982.
De Pree is a former furniture facility. Featuring
big spaces and high ceilings, it has been, he feels, ideal.
"The college allowed us to dream and helped us to
fulfill the dream," he said. "This place is probably one of
the best facilities of any liberal arts college I know of."
Michel's studio space connects directly to the
painting studio in De Pree, proximity that he has valued as
a teacher. "I've been able to incorporate my own work into
my teaching in a way that I wouldn't have been able to have
done," he said.
It is a crucial connection, he believes, and a
critical way that his creative work has informed his work
with students. "An important part of teaching in the art
field is that art teachers are artists," he said.
Even as his teaching career ends, Michel will
continue to work as an artist. He and his wife Sally are
building a new home south of Sutton's Bay on the Leelanau
Peninsula. There he plans to open a studio, perhaps in
Traverse City, and paint full-time.
Zwart first experienced Hope as a student. His
parents had never been to college, but they valued the
experience for him. They hoped he would attend a Christian
school, and a campus visit convinced him that Hope was the
He spent three of his four undergraduate years at
Hope, with one in the middle at Grand Rapids Community
College. His student experience included a distinction in
Hope athletic history: he was a member of the 1962 men's
tennis team, the first--and still only--MIAA team to defeat
Kalamazoo College in the sport since 1935.
After graduation, he became an educator himself.
He spent the next several years teaching and coaching in the
Grandville and East Grand Rapids schools.
He also completed a master's in school
administration, and in 1976 he joined the faculty of
Northwestern College for six years. In 1982 he returned to
Holland as principal and teacher of Rose Park Elementary in
the Holland Christian Schools.
The move ultimately brought him back to Hope in
1989. He had been one of several area educators working
with the college to develop a proposal for a grant from the
W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek to help link the
college and local schools in enhancing elementary science
education. He liked the program so much that he sought the
He remained after the program concluded its four-
year run, becoming director of student teaching and
certification. His contributions have also included co-
establishing, with colleague Susan Cherup, a long-running
May Term at the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
He feels that such cross-cultural experiences are crucial.
"I think in today's world it's important that we
have a bigger perspective as we work with children," he
said. "It's excellent for our students."
Zwart won't be retiring completely in May. He
will be back next year doing some teaching, and also hopes
to work with the May Term through 2004.
His priorities also include volunteering. In
1999, he and his wife Karen received the Vera Mulder Award,
given annually to the Holland area's outstanding volunteer,
for service to organizations ranging from the Villa Aurora
emergency shelter, to the Holland CROP Walk for hunger
relief and Kids Hope USA. In retirement he will continue
his emphasis on service.