posted May 2, 2011

Jon Huisken and John Yelding to Receive Vanderbush-Weller Awards

Hope College registrar Jon Huisken and education faculty member John Yelding have been named recipients of the college's 12th annual "Vanderbush-Weller Development Fund" awards for strong, positive impact on students.

The award recognizes and supports the efforts of Hope faculty and staff who make extraordinary contributions to the lives of students. Huisken and Yelding will be honored during a dinner on Thursday, May 5.

"John Yelding and Jon Huisken epitomize the essence of going above and beyond the call for students," said Dr. Richard Frost, vice president and dean of students at Hope, whose office coordinates the award, which is presented based on nominations from the campus community.

"For Dr. Yelding, this has taken place in the education department, ethnic studies and the Phelps Scholars Program," he said.  "For countless students, Dr. Yelding has been and is a mentor, supporter and guide as they travel through the academic maze and life's hurdles."

Regarding Huisken, Frost said, "Perhaps no one has touched more lives than Jon has over his 42 years at Hope College.  He has been task master and savior; a reality check and a source of inspiration; but most of all he has always provided hope through a strong commitment to faith and hard work.  There is no doubt in my mind that many students would not have a Hope College diploma if it were not for the special hand of Jon Huisken."

Huisken is dean for academic services and registrar and an adjunct associate professor of English.  A member of the Hope staff since 1969, he is retiring at the end of the current school year.

Huisken, who had graduated from Calvin College in 1965, had been teaching middle school and junior high school, but was interested in working in higher education when the opportunity arose to come to Hope as assistant registrar.  He became registrar a year later, and in 1989, to reflect the way that his responsibilities had grown, he was promoted to dean for academic services and registrar.

Among other duties, in addition to handling student records, his office runs course registration (now conducted online), coordinates academic advising, and oversees the Academic Support Center, FOCUS and SOAR programs, and Great Lakes Colleges Association Philadelphia Center, with Huisken additionally serving as the college's official contact with the Immigration Service.  To stay in touch with what faculty experience, he's also been teaching the college's business writing course, and for several years had taught at DavenportCollege as well.

Hope students expressed their appreciation for him in 1987, when the graduating class presented him with a special award for service during that year's Commencement ceremony.  In addition, he received the "Provost's Award for Service to the Academic Program" in 2004.

Huisken's work has had an effect on not only thousands of Hope alumni, but on his immediate family as well.  Wife Joanne, who retired from a career in elementary education this past spring, completed an additional degree at Hope in 2004.  All four of their daughters are also alumnae:  Amy Praestgaard, Class of 1986; Shelley Spencer, Class of 1988; Jana Huisken, Class of 1994; and Jennifer LaPointe, Class of 1996.  In retirement, he and Joanne plan to spend more time with their children and five grandchildren, as well as at the family cottage near Ludington and catching the Cubs during spring training.

Yelding is an associate professor of education, and directs the college's American Ethnic Studies minor and "Encounter with Cultures" course.  He has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1994.

His teaching specializations are secondary education, multiculturalism and rural education.  He team teaches the First-Year Seminar for students participating in the Phelps Scholars Program, a residential program for students interested in exploring issues related to diversity.

His involvement at Hope has included serving on the advisory boards of the Phelps Scholars Program and Hope College Upward Bound.  His scholarship has included a chapter in the departmental book "Finding Our Way: Reforming Teacher Education in the Liberal Arts Setting."

He is a past member of the West Ottawa Public Schools Board of Education, which he served as president.

In January 2009, the college presented him with its "Provost's Award for Service to the Academic Program."  In February 2003, he received a Michigan Campus Compact (MCC) "Faculty/Staff Community Service-Learning Award," presented in recognition of influence on or engagement of students to be involved in community service or service-learning through modeling, instruction and/or special projects.

Prior to joining the Hope faculty, Yelding was principal of South Haven High School.  He had also been a junior high school and middle school principal in Coloma, and held teaching positions in South Haven and Covert.  His honors while in secondary education include being named Van Buren County Principal of the Year in 1993.

He holds his bachelor's degree from Michigan State University, and a master's in educational leadership from Western Michigan University.

Yelding and his wife, Kathy, have six children, two of whom graduated from Hope:  Nicole Sinclair, Class of 2003; and Jason, Class of 2004.

The "Vanderbush-Weller Development Fund" was established in honor of longtime Hope professor and football coach Alvin Vanderbush, who retired in 1972 and died on Feb. 20, 2005. It was created by Ken and Shirely Weller of Pella, Iowa. Ken Weller is one of Vanderbush's former players and also a former Hope faculty colleague.