The Hope College Alumni Association will honor three alumni during the annual Alumni Banquet on Saturday, April 27.
The association will present Distinguished Alumni Awards to J. Scott Carpenter, a member of the Class of 1987 from Alexandria, Va., and Joel Schoon-Tanis, a member of the Class of 1989 from Holland. The association will present a Meritorious Service Award to Dr. James Boelkins, a member of the Class of 1966 from Jenison.
The annual Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented by the Alumni Association Board of Directors in recognition of the awardees’ contributions across decades or even across a career to society and service to Hope. The award, inaugurated in 1970 and presented during the college’s Alumni Banquet, is the highest honor that alumni can receive from the college’s Alumni Association.
The Meritorious Service Award recognizes a person’s contributions to Hope and its alumni through notable personal service and long-time involvement with the college. The award is presented to both alumni and friends of the college.
Carpenter is in his second year as deputy director with Google Ideas of Google Inc. Google Ideas is Google’s think/do tank. Its mission is to explore how technology might enable people to confront threats in the face of conflict, instability and repression. His time with Google follows more than 25 years of service with an international focus in both the U.S. and abroad.
He graduated from Hope with majors in French, history and political science. He completed a master’s degree in international economic and European studies, with distinction, in 1996 at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
He taught in Shanghai, China, during 1987 and 1988, and Eger, Hungary, during 1990 and 1991. He was subsequently a legislative assistant and deputy press secretary with Congressman Duncan Hunter from 1991 to 1992, and a legislative assistant with Congressman Rick Santorum from 1992 to 1994, and was an international trade specialist in the NAFTA Financial Services Section of the U.S. Department of Commerce during 1994 and 1995. He was with the International Republic Institute from 1995 to 2001, first as a resident program officer serving in Sofia, Bulgaria, Warsaw, Poland, and Istanbul, Turkey, and then as co-director of the Europe Regional Office in Bratislava, Slovakia.
He served with the U.S. Department of State as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor from 2001 to 2003, and as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Near East Affairs Bureau from 2004 to 2007. From March 2003 to July 2004 he was with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, Iraq, serving first as deputy director and later as director of governance. In 2006, he was coordinator of the Broader Middle East and North Africa G-8 Initiative.
Upon leaving the State Department, Carpenter joined the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as the Keston Family Fellow, where he founded Project Fikra, which focuses on empowering Arab democrats in their struggle against extremism; he continues to serve as an Adjunct Fellow with the Institute. From 2008 to 2011, he was a faculty member in Leadership Development Education for Sustained Peace (LDESP) with the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif.
He has seen much of the world, having visited more than 90 countries, and has also witnessed many key moments in recent history. He lived and taught in China on the eve of the Tiananmen Square massacre; he took the Trans-Siberian railroad from Beijing to Vienna in the waning days of the Soviet Union; he and his wife, Susan, lived and taught in Hungary just after the fall of the Berlin Wall; he witnessed the 1994 Republican take-over of the House of Representatives and worked closely with the so-called Gang of Seven to implement lasting rule changes; he supervised the first-ever presidential primary in the world outside the U.S., which took place in Bulgaria; he was present when much of the former Warsaw Pact entered NATO and helped the Serbian opposition oust then-President Slobodan Milosevic; he participated in 11 international election observations, including the 2009 presidential elections in Afghanistan; he was one of the first civilians to land in Baghdad after the fall of the city, and was one of just two American civilians to interview Saddam Hussein on the day he was captured in December 2003; and helped design and implement U.S. policy that sought to avoid revolution in the Arab World by promoting evolutionary change.
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Awards he has received include the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, one of the highest awards given to a civilian; and two Superior Honor Awards and three Meritorious Honor Awards from the U.S. Department of State.
Carpenter’s community involvement includes serving as an active member of St. Johns Lutheran Church. He has also been active in the Boy Scouts of America, recently completing three years as Scoutmaster for Troop 1107.
His involvement in the life of the college through the years has included serving as a keynote speaker in conjunction with the dedication of the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication in October 2006. He was featured in alumni profiles in the college’s alumni magazine, “News from Hope College,” in December 2005 and in the college’s 2006-07 “Catalog,” and his work in Bulgaria, conducted with Hope classmate Phil Tanis, was featured in “News from Hope College” in February 1998.
Carpenter’s wife, Susan, is a member of the college’s Class of 1988. They have two sons, Alexander, who is a Hope freshman; and Ethan.
Schoon-Tanis is an artist whose creativity has found expression—and has earned acclaim—in multiple media, including painting, children’s books, television and music.
He graduated from Hope in 1989 with a studio art major. His activities as a student included the band “The Voice,” which is now retired but has played for a few Homecoming reunions.
His painting explores God’s creation and stories from a whimsical, child-like perspective. He has shown his paintings around the United States—from Michigan, to Florida, to Colorado, to Washington, D.C.—as well as abroad, doing an art show in Nairobi, Kenya, to raise money for the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. His murals can be found in many schools, children’s hospitals and churches, and include murals in the Dominican Republic, Kenya and Zambia.
As an illustrator, Schoon-Tanis has contributed to more than half a dozen books for children. Most notably, he illustrated the “New International Reader’s Version Kid’s Study Bible” for Zondervan. He won the “Moonbeam Children’s Book Award” for his book “Swing!” His latest book is “The One, The Only Magnificent Me!” through Mackinac Island Press.
He was the creator and writer of “Come On Over!,” a children’s television program that won two National Telly awards and 13 regional Emmy awards, including three for him: one for acting, one for music and one as producer. “Come On Over!” was filmed at Hope during three summers and one Christmas break between 2006 and 2008, and involved students as well as members of the faculty and staff as cast and crew. The program’s guest stars included Jars of Clay, Fred Willard (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Best in Show”), Ruth Buzzi (“Laugh In,” “Sesame Street”), Luis Avalos (“Electric Company”), Vicki Lewis (“Newsradio,” “Finding Nemo”) and Jason Hanson (kicker for the Detroit Lions).
Schoon-Tanis has been actively involved in the life of the college in numerous ways since graduation, beyond “The Voice’s” Homecoming appearances and his development of “Come On Over!” and the opportunities that the program provided for students. He served on the planning committee for the college’s biennial Veritas Forum multiple times, and has also been a participant in panels during the event. He accompanied six Hope spring break mission/immersion trips to the Dominican Republic, and also worked with the late Mary DeYoung of the mathematics faculty to take six students to Kenya. He has spoken to multiple First-Year Seminar groups, was a mentor in the religion minor program and trained Hope students to be Young Life leaders. He was featured in an alumni profile in “News from Hope College” in February 1994, and was highlighted in the December 2012 issue as one of five artists selected to pain murals for Holland’s South Shore Village neighborhood.
Among other community involvement, he volunteered with Young Life for 17 years. He also often speaks to schools and at churches about illustration and the creative process. In addition, he is an active member of Third Reformed Church, where he has served in many ways, from deacon, to youth leader, to mission trip leader, to vocalist.
He and his wife, Kathy Schoon-Tanis, who is a member of the college’s Class of 1995, have two children at home: Harper, age four; and Beatrix, born in December.
Boelkins was provost and a professor of biology at Hope from 2002 until retiring in 2010. He worked in higher education administration for 39 years, including 25 years as the chief academic officer at Hope and other institutions.
He valued the opportunity to play a role in strengthening the mission of the college: “to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith.”
Among Boelkins’s significant contributions as provost were the recruitment of more than 80 outstanding faculty, supporting the excellent teaching and scholarship by faculty, supporting the mission of Hope, participating in the design of new and renovated academic facilities, the restoration of the Skinner organ in Dimnent Memorial Chapel and development of the Center for Faithful Leadership. He has emphasized building even closer ties between the academic, campus ministries and student life programs to create a more holistic experience for students. His involvement in the life of the college included serving as a faculty mentor for an ASI Student Consulting team, developed through the Center for Faithful Leadership, on a project for the Holland Rescue Mission.
The college’s students presented him with a special award in recognition of his service to Hope during Homecoming in October 2009, and he received an honorary degree from Hope in May 2010. In February of this year, he received the Center for Faithful Leadership’s “Leader-in-Residence Award” in recognition of his involvement in the center as a mentor to students in the years since he retired.
He has been active in professional associations and local organizations. As provost, he chaired the Great Lakes Colleges Association Deans’ Council. His on-going community service includes serving on the Van Andel Education Institute Advisory Council and chairing the Board of Directors of Wedgwood Christian Services, and being active in his church. In addition, he has also been serving Hope as executive secretary for the college’s Presidential Search Committee.
Prior to becoming provost at Hope in 2002, Boelkins had served as vice provost of Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus in Grand Rapids for two years. He was previously with Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., for 15 years, first as vice president for academic affairs and then, starting in 1992, as provost.
From 1972 to 1975, and from 1977 to 1985, he was a member of the faculty of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, Grand Forks, where he chaired and developed a new department of pharmacology. He received a variety of awards at the university, including recognition in both 1978 and 1983 as the Outstanding Basic Science Teacher, and the 1985 B.C. Gamble Distinguished Service Award for outstanding teaching and loyal service.
From 1975 to 1977, Boelkins was a member of the pharmacology faculty at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. He was also a postdoctoral fellow at The Pennsylvania State University during 1971-72.
In addition to his B.A. from Hope, Boelkins holds an M.S. from the University of North Dakota and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. He and his wife, Barbara, who is a member of the college’s Class of 1968, have three grown children, Matthew, Jonathan and Melissa.