Four Long-Time Professors
To Retire at End of School Year
Posted April 8, 2002
HOLLAND -- Four long-time members of the Hope
College faculty are retiring at the end of the school year.
Retiring this year are Dr. Harvey Blankespoor, who
is the Frederich Garrett and Helen Floor Dekker Professor of
Biology; Dr. Robert Elder Jr., professor of political
science; Dr. Donald Williams, professor of chemistry; and
Dr. Ronald Wolthuis, associate professor of education.
Their service to Hope totals 109 years.
Blankespoor has been a member of the faculty since
1976. He previously taught biology at the University of
He received a major teaching award at U of M, and
in 1980 Hope students presented him with another: the "Hope
Outstanding Professor Educator" (H.O.P.E.) Award. In 1991,
he was named the national Professor of the Year by The
Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
He has involved some 100 students in research,
primarily exploring the host-parasite relationships of a
group of parasites that cause swimmer's itch. He has had
nearly 60 articles published in peer-reviewed journals.
Reflecting their interest in interacting with
students, Blankespoor and wife Marlene lived on campus in
Cosmopolitan/Wyckoff Hall from 1993 to 2001. Since 1990, he
has taken nearly 250 students on May Term trips to South
America and East Africa.
In keeping with his international perspective,
Blankespoor has done work in parasitology in Sudan and
Ecuador, and has taught and conducted research in China. He
has also collected journals and science texts for use by
universities in Mexico.
He graduated from Westmar College in 1963, and
completed his master's and doctorate at Iowa State
University in 1967 and 1970 respectively.
Blankespoor and Marlene have two children:
Curtis, a 1988 Hope graduate, and Amber.
Elder has been a member of the Hope faculty since
1969. He joined the faculty as he completed his doctorate
at Duke University.
In the early 1970s, he helped establish the
college's May Term in Washington, D.C., and in 1976 the Hope
Washington Honors Semester. In 1984, he and three students
co-founded "Inklings," a journal that featured student
editorials and essays in its eight-year run. He and
colleague Dr. Jack Holmes also initiated student research
within the department.
He has pursued a variety of scholarly interests.
Among other activities, he and Holmes researched U.S.
foreign policy moods and perception of presidential
performance; he co-authored the text "American Government:
Essentials and Perspectives" with Holmes and with Dr.
Michael Engelhardt; he instituted a faculty exchange with
Bishop Heber College in Tamil Nadu in 1993, and in the
latter part of that year was a faculty consultant to the
political science department at the University of Colombo in
Sri Lanka through a Fulbright grant. He was the college's
exchange professor of Meiji Gakuin University in Japan in
Elder is the author of several published articles
and book reviews, and has also presented numerous papers at
professional meetings. He received a "Sears-Roebuck
Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership" award in 1990 in
recognition of his resourcefulness and leadership.
He completed his bachelor's degree at Colgate
University in 1964, and a master's and doctorate from Duke
University in 1967 and 1971 respectively.
Elder and his wife Linda have three daughters,
Heidi, Jennifer and Amy, all of whom attended Hope, as
members of the Classes of 1990, 1991 and 1993 respectively.
Williams, professor of chemistry, has been a
member of the Hope faculty since 1969. He previously taught
chemistry at the University of Kentucky.
As the college's Senior Seminar program was
implemented in 1969-70, he pioneered development of "Science
and Human Values," a popular topic still offered. Courses
he has created also concern the environmental consequences
of electrical power generation, and the history of the
Williams has received numerous external grants in
support of his research. He has written several articles
published in professional journals and has presented many
papers at professional meetings.
He spent 1988-89 as an expert educational
consultant for the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste
Management in the U.S. Department of Energy, and has since
toured the country discussing nuclear energy issues. He has
won state and national American Nuclear Society
Communication Awards for his ability to communicate with the
Among other activities stemming from his interest
in environmental issues, he founded the Holland
Environmental Action Council, has consulted with the Holland
Board of Public Works and has served on the Board of
Governors of the Michigan Low-Level Radioactive Waste
Williams graduated from Muskingum College in 1960,
and completed his doctorate at The Ohio State University in
He and his wife, Susan, who is retiring this year
as director of the college's FOCUS and SOAR programs, have
two sons: Brian, a 1988 Hope graduate, and David.
Wolthuis joined the Hope faculty in 1985. His
professional focus has been in special education, and
courses he has been teaching during the current school year
include "The Exceptional Child," "Introduction to
Emotionally Impaired," "Psychoeducational Strategies" and
Prior to coming to Hope, he was on the faculty of
Michigan State University for 14 years, most recently as an
associate professor in the Department of Counseling,
Educational Psychology and Special Education, and as
coordinator of the Severely Impaired/Autistic Teacher
His previous career experiences included
coordinating Field Test Center Research Programs for the
Cybernetics Research Institute in Washington, D.C., and
teaching emotionally impaired adolescents at Pine Rest
Christian Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Wolthuis has been active at the state and national
levels, including the Professional Advisory Boards of the
Autism Society of Michigan and the Michigan Association for
Children with Emotional Disturbance; Institutions for Higher
Education Advisory Committee; and the Education Committee of
the Autism Society of America.
He has also received honors including the Special
Recognition Award and a Professional of the Year Award from
the Autism Society of Michigan. The Hope student body
elected him a recipient of the fall, 2000, "Honorary
Professor/Staff Member" award, presented at Homecoming. He
will present the college's Commencement address on Sunday,
He has made numerous presentations at state and
Wolthuis is a 1964 graduate of Calvin College. He
completed his master's degree in special education and
doctorate in educational leadership at Western Michigan
University, in 1967 and 1970 respectively.
He and his wife Sherrie have three sons: Eric, a
1994 Hope graduate; Brian, a 1997 graduate; and Kevin, who
is graduating this year.