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The Creative Process
Dr. Nyenhuis reports

A high point of the past year for me was the publication in January of my latest book, Myth and the Creative Process: Michael Ayrton and the Myth of Daedalus, the Maze Maker, on which I had worked intermittently for the past three decades. My publisher, Wayne State University Press, has promoted it enthusiastically, even nominating it for various book awards.

The Art Department organized an exhibition of works by Michael Ayrton to coincide with the publication of my book. The exhibition, “Michael Ayrton: Myth and the Creative Process,” was held in the De Pree Art Center and Gallery from 13 January to 7 February 2003. There was a gala opening on the 17th of January, at which I was privileged to give the curator’s introduction to the show. I assisted in the organization of the exhibition, identifying and contacting lenders, as well as preparing the checklist and other documentation for the works. It was exhilarating to see so many of Ayrton’s works assembled in one place, for it had been several years since I had last seen an exhibition of his work. I gave several gallery tours, gave both a public lecture and a classroom lecture on campus, and an invited lecture in Detroit, cosponsored by the Antiquaries Society of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Classical Association, the Michigan Classical Conference, and Wayne State University.

As a result of the publication of my centennial history of Fourteenth Street Christian Reformed Church last year, I was invited to give a presentation to the Holland Area Historical Society at their annual Christmas Potluck, held at the church in December. The research for that centennial history also led to a conference presentation. In late June I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, to present a paper at the Fourth Triennial Conference of the International Society for the Promotion of the Study of Reformed Communities. The conference was structured to provide a significant amount of time for discussion of each paper, so I received good feedback and valuable suggestions that helped with revision for publication. The depth and breadth of the papers and the discussions made for an excellent conference.

The rest of the time was devoted largely to institutional service, such as the preparation of an architectural survey of historic buildings at Hope College for the Council of Independent Colleges and Universities. With the assistance of Elton Bruins and other colleagues on campus, I prepared a report on eight buildings, plus the Pine Grove, which is historically significant in its own right. Work on that report led me to conclude that such a survey of all the major buildings on campus would be highly desirable, so I have set that as my primary research agenda for the current academic year. This project will also help to lay the groundwork for ongoing research on the history of the College.

In addition to discharging customary administrative responsibilities at the Institute, I worked with my colleagues to develop an expanded mission statement, to establish the Visiting Research Fellows Program, and to chart our future direction as a research institute.

For several months last fall and winter, I had the privilege of serving as a consultant to Albion College, helping them to plan for managing growth in both student enrollment and faculty. While giving them the benefit of the knowledge and experience that I had gained over the years that I spent in academic administration at Wayne State University and at Hope College, I gained a deeper appreciation for a fellow member with Hope College in the Great Lakes Colleges Association.

My community service has been focused largely on Calvin Theological Seminary, on whose board I have served for the past two years. I am currently an officer of the board, serving as Vice Chair. I have learned a great deal about the challenges and rewards of providing theological education in a rapidly changing ecclesiastical environment. One of the fine traditions established by Dr. Cornelius Plantinga Jr. when he became President two years ago was the “Book of the Quarter” program. Faculty, students and board members read and discuss a different theological book each term. As a result, I have read a number of excellent books that I would otherwise have missed.

My active engagement with the Institute these past two years has made the transition into retirement relatively easy, by providing the opportunity and the place for me to carry on research and writing that had to take a secondary place to my administrative duties during all my years as dean and provost. Being blessed with knowledgeable and enjoyable colleagues has made my first year as director a real pleasure. For that I am deeply grateful.