posted September 18, 2006

Donald Cronkite to Receive National Award

 Dr. Donald Cronkite of the Hope College biology faculty will receive a national award this fall from the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT).

Cronkite is receiving the NABT's "Evolution Education Award," presented in recognition of "innovative classroom teaching and community education efforts to promote the accurate understanding of biological evolution." He will receive the award during NABT's National Professional Development Conference, which will be held in Albuquerque, N.M., on Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 11-14.

Cronkite teaches about evolution in a variety of the college's courses, including an advanced course specifically on evolutionary biology. He has also published several essays on evolution, and addresses the topic as a speaker in the Holland area, leading workshops for or presenting lectures to a variety of church and community groups about the issue of evolution. "What I'm up to is trying to find ways of reconciling the different points of view, and you have to talk to people to do that," he said.

Long-time colleague Dr. Christopher Barney, who wrote a letter of recommendation in support of Cronkite's nomination for the award, praised Cronkite for his broad outreach as an educator.

"Through his courses at Hope College, his presentations to both the public and scientists, and through his writing, Don has helped many people to a deeper understanding of evolution and to an appreciation of the importance of the theory of evolution in explaining the origins and connectedness of all life on earth," said Barney, who is the T. Elliott Weier Professor of Biology at Hope. "Don's work in this area makes him an outstanding choice for the award."

Cronkite has received multiple national awards in recognition of his work as an educator, including from the NABT, which presented him with its "Four-Year College Biology Teaching Award" in 1995. In March of 2005, he was named the 2005 "College Teacher of the Year" by the Michigan Science Teachers Association. In 1991, he was one of only 700 faculty members recognized nationally with a 1990-91 Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.

He has also received recognition from the campus community. In 1988, he was named a co-recipient of the college's Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award by the senior class and served as Commencement speaker.

Cronkite, a full professor of biology and a member of the Hope faculty since 1978, is a specialist in genetics. In addition to evolutionary biology, his teaching interests include introductory biology, embryology, cell biology, genetics, the history of biology, and science and human values.

His publications include "A Problem-Based Guide to Basic Genetics," currently in its fourth edition. He is currently a member of a multidisciplinary committee formed by the National Council of Churches to lead the U.S. ecumenical community's work over the next two years on issues of human genetic technology. For several years, he was moderator of the Christian Action Commission of the Reformed Church in America, the college's parent denomination.

Cronkite was academic director for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation National Leadership Institute for High School Biology Teachers from 1991 to 1997, and is profiled on the foundation's Web site concerning his involvement in the program. He has been a science curriculum consultant to 21 different colleges. With help from the National Science Foundation, he has been involved in forming high school-college partnerships to enhance science education at the secondary level. He has been active on campus in presenting workshops for his colleagues regarding the appropriate use of technology in teaching.

He also directed pre-college outreach programs at Hope which were funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, including a sixth/seventh-grade science recreation program, a seventh/eighth-grade science demonstrators program and a ninth/10th-grade research club.

Cronkite has also held visiting research appointments at the University of California-Santa Barbara, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Maryland, the Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole and Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. Prior to joining the Hope faculty, he taught at the University of Redlands in California.

He holds his bachelor's degree and his doctorate, both in zoology, from Indiana University at Bloomington.

The NABT, formed in 1938, is comprised of more than 9,000 biology educators and administrators, representing all grade levels, from the United States and Abroad. In addition to the national conference, NABT's activities include a variety of publications, multiple seminars and workshops geared toward professional development, and educational projects funded through outside grants.

The Evolution Education Award is sponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). AIBS is a nonprofit scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society. BSCS is a nonprofit corporation that seeks to improve all students' understanding of science and technology by developing exemplary curricular materials and supporting their widespread and effective use, providing professional development,a nd conducting research and evaluation studies.