Jacob E. Nyenhuis to Direct A.C. Van Raalte Institute
Posted June 26, 2002
HOLLAND -- Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis has been named
director of the A.C. Van Raalte Institute at Hope College.
He succeeds Dr. Elton J. Bruins, who is stepping
down after serving as director since the institute was
established in 1994. The appointment becomes effective
Monday, July 1.
Nyenhuis has been with the institute as a senior
research fellow since September of 2001. He retired from
the Hope faculty in May of 2001 after 26 years at the
college, the last 17 as provost and professor of classics.
"We are very pleased that Jack Nyenhuis will
continue serving Hope College and the A.C. Van Raalte
Institute in the coming years," said Alfredo Gonzales,
associate provost at Hope. "A proven administrator and an
internationally renowned scholar, he is eminently well-
qualified to direct the institute."
"For me it is also a welcome opportunity to
continue working with Jack, as I did when we were both in
the Office of the Provost," Gonzales said.
Gonzales also complimented Bruins's strong
leadership in developing the institute since its founding.
"He took the idea of establishing an institute and has
worked very hard to develop it in such a way that it is fast
becoming the premier institute for the study of Dutch-
American history," he said.
"It has been just an absolute pleasure for me to
work with Elton over the past eight-and-a-half years in his
capacity as director," Gonzales said. "He exhibits great
love for Hope College, for the church, and for the place of
Dutch-American history as one of the pillars of our
community. He's just a terrific gentleman."
Bruins, who is the Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink
Professor Emeritus of Religion at Hope, will remain involved
with the institute as a senior research fellow. The
institute's other research fellows are: Dr. Jeanne M.
Jacobson, adjunct professor emerita of education; Dr. James
C. Kennedy, assistant professor of history; and Dr. Robert
P. Swierenga, adjunct professor of history.
Nyenhuis joined the Hope faculty in 1975 as dean
for humanities, was appointed dean for arts and humanities
in 1978, and was appointed provost in 1984.
His active interest in local history predates his
involvement with the institute this past year. He led the
effort to have the statue of community founder Albertus C.
Van Raalte cast and installed in Centennial Park in
conjunction with the city's 1997 sesquicentennial, and also
co-authored a book about the project.
Since joining the institute, Nyenhuis has
completed a history of 14th Street Christian Reformed
Church, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this
year. He is planning to write a history of Hope College,
with a special focus on the period since 1968, when the last
history was published.
Nyenhuis is internationally recognized as an
expert on the Greek myth of Daedalus, and served as a
consultant to the successful 1988 recreation of the
legendary inventor's 74-mile flight across the Aegean Sea.
His book "Myth and the Creative Process: Michael Ayrton and
the Myth of Daedalus, the Maze Maker" will be published in
December by Wayne State University Press. In conjunction
with the publication, the gallery of the De Pree Art Center
will feature a related exhibition from Monday, Jan. 13,
through Friday, Feb. 7.
He co-authored the best-selling textbook "Latin
Via Ovid" and editions of "Plautus: Amphitruo" and
"Petronius: Cena Trimalchionis."
Nyenhuis is past chair of the Michigan Council for
the Humanities, and past president of the National
Federation of State Humanities Councils. He is also past
chair of the Deans' Council of the Great Lakes Colleges
Prior to joining the Hope faculty, he taught at
Wayne State University from 1962 to 1975. He has also held
several visiting professorships.
Nyenhuis holds his bachelor's degree from Calvin
College, and his master's and doctorate from Stanford
University. Hope presented him with an honorary degree, a
Litt.D., in 2001.
The A.C. Van Raalte Institute supports research
and writings on the history and heritage of Holland, Mich.,
in particular and of the Dutch in the United States in
general. It is housed in the office complex at 100 E. 8th
The institute is fully supported through gifts to
the college's endowment by Peter Huizenga of Oak Brook,
Ill., and his mother, the late Elizabeth Huizenga. Peter
Huizenga is a 1960 Hope graduate and a member of the
college's Board of Trustees. Including Peter, four of
Elizabeth Huizenga's children graduated from Hope, as did
some of her grandchildren.