posted April 2, 2007

Barry Werkman Ends 40 Years Service to Hope

These past two years it was pretty easy to guess the location of Barry Werkman's office at Hope - his name is on the building.

In May 2005, the Board of Trustees voted to name the college's building at 100 E. Eighth St. the "Anderson-Werkman Financial Center" in honor of Bill Anderson and Werkman, vice presidents in finance who had both been at Hope since the 1960s, celebrating their significant service in fostering Hope's financial stability and strength.

Anderson retired in June of that year. Werkman retired at the end of this March, capping a career at Hope that began in 1967.

So, how is it, spending your time in a building adorned with huge gold letters spelling your moniker? Day-to-day, it's pretty much like working any place else.

That doesn't mean, though, that the recognition doesn't mean a lot.

"It obviously is a distinct honor to have your name placed on a building," Werkman said. "It's something that Bill and I will never forget."

Werkman first experienced Hope as a student, connected to the college through Reformed Church ties, and graduated in the Class of '64. He returned in 1967 as an instructor in the department of economics and business administration, after completing a Master of Science in Business degree at the University of Wyoming and teaching at Ferris State University.

"To have the opportunity to go back to my alma mater, a place I had grown to love, was certainly important to me," he said.

Werkman moved to the administration in 1969 as assistant business manager. He became business manager in 1971, business manager and controller in 1985, and vice president for finance in 2001. Some of his varied responsibilities have included directing financial aid for a summer, campus planning during a period that included construction of the Dow Center, and the college's community fund-raising campaign for a while; and even helping manage the recovery after Hope's administration building, Van Raalte Hall, burned in April 1980.

"I've had a variety of experiences, which is why I went into the administration in the first place because every day was different," Werkman said. "It made the job interesting and exciting."

In the end, though, he is most pleased to have been a part of the team that has helped the college stay in the black for more than four decades running - not a distinction that every college or university shares.

"The proudest accomplishment that I have in 40 years is that in that period of time the college has never operated with an operating loss. We live within our means and are good stewards of the resources that are entrusted to us," he said.

"And that's not just an accomplishment attributed to me," he said. "I attribute it to the cooperation of all areas of the college and to the staff that I've been fortunate to work with."

In retirement, Werkman is looking forward to traveling with wife Judy (Dirkse '65). An avid motorcyclist, he is also anticipating having more time to tour with a group of friends, also retired, who share his interest. And, importantly, sharing more time with son Tom '92 and daughter Michelle Werkman '96 Gerig and their families, a contingent that includes Barry's and Judy's five grandchildren.