The Hope College Alumni Association will present four alumni with Distinguished Alumni Awards during the college's Alumni Day on Saturday, May 3.
Being honored this year are: Dr. Lawrence Schut of Maple Lake, Minn.; the Rev. Eugene Sutton of Washington, D.C.; Barbara Timmer of Washington, D.C.; and Johnnie Tuitel of Grand Rapids.
The annual Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented by the Alumni Association Board of Directors in recognition of the awardees' contributions to society and service to Hope. The award, presented during the college's Alumni Banquet, is the highest honor that alumni can receive from the college's Alumni Association.
Dr. Lawrence Schut, a member of the Class of 1958, is a neurologist currently serving with the Centra Care Clinic in St. Cloud, Minn., St. Cloud Hospital and the University of Minnesota Hospital & Clinics in Minneapolis.
His other staff appointments through the years have included serving as neurological coordinator of the North Memorial Medical Center in Minneapolis from 1972 to 1983; as medical director of the Minneapolis V.A. Medical Center's Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) from 1983 to 1989; and as medical director of the United Pain Center of United Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., from 1992 to 1994. He was in private practice with the Minneapolis Clinic of Psychiatry and Neurology from 1967 to 1983.
Between 1967 and 2000 he taught at the University of Minnesota Medical School, from which he holds his medical degree. He received the "Outstanding Teacher Award" from the St. Cloud Hospital residency program in 2000.
Schut's research emphasis has been on a degenerative neurological disorder called hereditary spinocerebellar ataxia, a fatal disease with a personal implication: more than 65 members of his family have been afflicted. He was among the physicians who provided the clinical support to the molecular geneticists at the University of Minnesota and Baylor University who, in 1993, discovered the gene abnormality which causes the disease. He discussed the work during a Biology Seminar at Hope.
He is medical director of the National Ataxia Foundation, from which he received a "Lifetime Commitment Award" in 1999, and is a board member of Audio Scriptures International (ASI) located in Escondido, Calif. His community involvements have included serving as an elder at both Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church and Faith Presbyterian Church.
He and his wife, Loretta, have five children: Sherry Yoder; Maribeth Bolstad; Ronald Schut, a member of the Class of 1981, David Schut; and L. James Schut, a member of the Class of 1993.
The Rev. Eugene Sutton, a member of the Class of 1976, is canon pastor at Washington National Cathedral, and director of the Cathedral Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage. Through his ministry he has met with many of the world's religious and spiritual leaders, and has prayed, worshipped and reflected with several members of Congress and other national leaders.
He is an adjunct member of the faculty of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., teaching courses in spirituality and homiletics. In addition, he co-founded, and serves on the board of, Contemplative Outreach of Metropolitan Washington, an ecumenical network of churches and individuals committed to centering prayer and other Christian contemplative spiritual practices.
Prior to joining the staff of Washington National Cathedral, Sutton was the associate for spirituality and justice at St. Columba's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. He previously served at several other parishes, including Covenant Community Reformed Church in Muskegon Heights and as chaplain of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey.
His past teaching appointments have included Vanderbilt University Divinity School, General Theological Seminary in New York City, New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Muskegon Community College, where he also served as chaplain.
Sutton spoke during the college's fall, 1993, Critical Issues Symposium, "Race and Social Change in America," presenting the address "Been in the Storm So Long: The Crucible of Race in the Church." He will also deliver this year's Baccalaureate sermon.
He received the master of divinity degree from Western Theological Seminary, and did graduate studies in theology and communication at Princeton Theological Seminary.
His wife, Sonya Subbayya Sutton, is associate director of music at St. Alban's Church in Washington, D.C. Their blended family includes Sophia (16) and Stefan (12) at home, and his two grown sons in New Jersey: Benjamin, who works in Princeton, and Kyle, who graduates this spring from Rutgers University.
Barbara Timmer, a member of the Class of 1969, became Assistant Sergeant at Arms for the United States Senate in January, 2003, and prior to that served as Assistant Secretary of the Senate. She is currently responsible for all information technology issues for the Senate.
Timmer's government service also includes her appointment in 1989 as the General Counsel for the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives, during which time she was asked to participate in the first U.S. delegation to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. During the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s, she was Senior Counsel to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation.
Her political experience also includes serving a two-year term, beginning in 1982, as the elected Executive Vice President of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Timmer holds a law degree from the University of Michigan, and prior to joining the Senate staff had been with a technology company in San Francisco, MyPrimeTime Inc.; Home Savings of America, as vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs; and, the ITT Corporation, as director of legislative and regulatory affairs.
Among other honors, she received the National Affordable Housing Award in 1991 and the NYC/YWCA Outstanding Woman Award in 1993. She is listed in the current editions of Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Law and Who's Who in American Women.
Timmer is a member of the college's Second Century Club, and regularly attends alumni events in Washington, D.C. She has had Hope Washington Honors Semester students serve with her as interns while working at the Senate.
She is active in her local Episcopal church, where she was recently elected as a member of the Vestry.
Her parents, Barbara Dee Timmer and the late J. Norman Timmer, who died on February 19, received Distinguished Alumni Awards from Hope in 1980. Barbara Dee Timmer is a member of the Class of 1943, and J. Norman Timmer was a member of the Class of 1938.
Johnnie Tuitel, a member of the Class of 1988, is a professional motivational speaker and co-founder and director of development of "Alternatives in Motion."
Complications related to his premature birth left Tuitel with cerebral palsy. His parents rejected doctors' advice to institutionalize him, and raised him on their own. In 1974, he became the first student with a disability to be mainstreamed into the local public schools.
As a Hope freshman, he spoke to one of the college's "Exceptional Child" classes at a friend's encouragement. The experience established a role that continues.
In the years since college, Tuitel has focused on educating audiences about acceptance and helping people with disabilities become more mobile. He has given hundreds of presentations to sports teams, schools and universities, charitable organizations and businesses. He co-wrote the four-volume Gun Lake Adventure Series, which features a pre- teen protagonist who uses a wheelchair.
In 1995, he and George Ranville, a member of the Class of 1978, co-founded Alternatives in Motion to provide wheelchairs for people who, for insurance or other reasons, cannot afford them. The charity has since donated more than 300 wheelchairs.
In addition, Tuitel has continued to share his perspective with Hope students through the years, including speaking to "Exceptional Child" classes, athletic teams and Greek organizations.
In 1997, former President Gerald R. Ford presented him with the WOOD TV8 Unsung Hero Award. He has also received the National Easter Seals Society's prestigious EDI (Equality, Dignity, Independence) Award and the United Way of Michigan's Speaker of the Year Award. He serves on the state's commission on disability concerns.
He and his wife, Deb, have three young children.