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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 Association (GLCA).

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 St.

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.

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