posted February 8, 2002

Four Professors to Retire

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

Retiring this year are Dr. Harvey Blankespoor, who is the Frederich Garrett and Helen Floor Dekker Professor of Biology; Dr. Robert Elder Jr., professor of political science; Dr. Donald Williams, professor of chemistry; and Dr. Ronald Wolthuis, associate professor of education. Their service to Hope totals 109 years.

Blankespoor has been a member of the faculty since 1976. He previously taught biology at the University of Michigan.

He received a major teaching award at U of M, and in 1980 Hope students presented him with another: the "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator" (H.O.P.E.) Award. In 1991, he was named the national Professor of the Year by The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

He has involved some 100 students in research, primarily exploring the host-parasite relationships of a group of parasites that cause swimmer's itch. He has had nearly 60 articles published in peer-reviewed journals.

Reflecting their interest in interacting with students, Blankespoor and wife Marlene lived on campus in Cosmopolitan/Wyckoff Hall from 1993 to 2001. Since 1990, he has taken nearly 250 students on May Term trips to South America and East Africa.

In keeping with his international perspective, Blankespoor has done work in parasitology in Sudan and Ecuador, and has taught and conducted research in China. He has also collected journals and science texts for use by universities in Mexico.

He graduated from Westmar College in 1963, and completed his master's and doctorate at Iowa State University in 1967 and 1970 respectively.

Blankespoor and Marlene have two children: Curtis, a 1988 Hope graduate, and Amber.

Elder has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1969. He joined the faculty as he completed his doctorate at Duke University.

In the early 1970s, he helped establish the college's May Term in Washington, D.C., and in 1976 the Hope Washington Honors Semester. In 1984, he and three students co-founded "Inklings," a journal that featured student editorials and essays in its eight-year run. He and colleague Dr. Jack Holmes also initiated student research within the department.

He has pursued a variety of scholarly interests. Among other activities, he and Holmes researched U.S. foreign policy moods and perception of presidential performance; he co-authored the text "American Government: Essentials and Perspectives" with Holmes and with Dr. Michael Engelhardt; he instituted a faculty exchange with Bishop Heber College in Tamil Nadu in 1993, and in the latter part of that year was a faculty consultant to the political science department at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka through a Fulbright grant. He was the college's exchange professor of Meiji Gakuin University in Japan in 2000.

Elder is the author of several published articles and book reviews, and has also presented numerous papers at professional meetings. He received a "Sears-Roebuck Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership" award in 1990 in recognition of his resourcefulness and leadership.

He completed his bachelor's degree at Colgate University in 1964, and a master's and doctorate from Duke University in 1967 and 1971 respectively.

Elder and his wife Linda have three daughters, Heidi, Jennifer and Amy, all of whom attended Hope, as members of the Classes of 1990, 1991 and 1993 respectively.

Williams, professor of chemistry, has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1969. He previously taught chemistry at the University of Kentucky.

As the college's Senior Seminar program was implemented in 1969-70, he pioneered development of "Science and Human Values," a popular topic still offered. Courses he has created also concern the environmental consequences of electrical power generation, and the history of the atomic bomb.

Williams has received numerous external grants in support of his research. He has written several articles published in professional journals and has presented many papers at professional meetings.

He spent 1988-89 as an expert educational consultant for the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management in the U.S. Department of Energy, and has since toured the country discussing nuclear energy issues. He has won state and national American Nuclear Society Communication Awards for his ability to communicate with the public.

Among other activities stemming from his interest in environmental issues, he founded the Holland Environmental Action Council, has consulted with the Holland Board of Public Works and has served on the Board of Governors of the Michigan Low-Level Radioactive Waste Authority.

Williams graduated from Muskingum College in 1960, and completed his doctorate at The Ohio State University in 1964.

He and his wife, Susan, who is retiring this year as director of the college's FOCUS and SOAR programs, have two sons: Brian, a 1988 Hope graduate, and David.

Wolthuis joined the Hope faculty in 1985. His professional focus has been in special education, and courses he has been teaching during the current school year include "The Exceptional Child," "Introduction to Emotionally Impaired," "Psychoeducational Strategies" and "Senior Seminar."

Prior to coming to Hope, he was on the faculty of Michigan State University for 14 years, most recently as an associate professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education, and as coordinator of the Severely Impaired/Autistic Teacher Training Program.

His previous career experiences included coordinating Field Test Center Research Programs for the Cybernetics Research Institute in Washington, D.C., and teaching emotionally impaired adolescents at Pine Rest Christian Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Wolthuis has been active at the state and national levels, including the Professional Advisory Boards of the Autism Society of Michigan and the Michigan Association for Children with Emotional Disturbance; Institutions for Higher Education Advisory Committee; and the Education Committee of the Autism Society of America.

He has also received honors including the Special Recognition Award and a Professional of the Year Award from the Autism Society of Michigan. The Hope student body elected him a recipient of the fall, 2000, "Honorary Professor/Staff Member" award, presented at Homecoming. He will present the college's Commencement address on Sunday, May 5.

He has made numerous presentations at state and national conferences.

Wolthuis is a 1964 graduate of Calvin College. He completed his master's degree in special education and doctorate in educational leadership at Western Michigan University, in 1967 and 1970 respectively.

He and his wife Sherrie have three sons: Eric, a 1994 Hope graduate; Brian, a 1997 graduate; and Kevin, who is graduating this year.