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Long-Time Psychology Professor James Motiff to Retire

Posted April 14, 2004

HOLLAND A 35-year member of the Hope College faculty is retiring at the end of the current school year.

Dr. James P. Motiff, professor of psychology, is becoming a professor emeritus after teaching at the college since 1969.

Practitioner of a people-oriented discipline, he notes that people have made a major positive difference in his experience as a member of the faculty.

"I could not have asked, ever, for a greater group of people," Motiff said. "And while some of the people that were here when I started have of course retired, there are senior members here who I have known for, if not 34 years, certainly around 25 to 30 years. That's a very, very rich experience to have had."

He has been equally impressed by the students.

"Students have always been a joy for me," he said. "I like Hope students. They're bright, they're hard-working, they're nice people, they're caring people."

Motiff joined the Hope faculty as an assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in 1972 and was promoted to professor in 1985.

He is a specialist in physiological psychology and was an early proponent of health psychology. He became one of the first people to practice biofeedback, and in 1985 served as president of the Biofeedback Society of Michigan.

He helped develop and worked with the Chronic Pain Program of Human Resource Associates P.C. of Grand Rapids for several years. His professional involvements have also included serving on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Society for Behavioral Medicine and Biofeedback.

Motiff has written articles on stress for scholarly journals and the popular press alike, and has given seminars on stress reduction nationwide as well as to numerous community groups. The local connections, he noted, have been especially rewarding.

"Those are such neat experiences," Motiff said. "I don't think I can go downtown and not have somebody stop and say something about some way in which they've known me, either through those stress seminars, or through clinical practice, or through coursework."

His service to the college has included two terms as chair of the department of psychology, during which time he and the others in the department revamped the major program. He developed the college's program in physiological psychology, as well as the department's course on health psychology, and May Term and school-year courses on helping relationships.

His wife, Dr. Judy Motiff, who died on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2003, was a long-time Hope colleague. She had served as a member of the college's French faculty from 1969 until retiring in 2000.

Motiff is a 1965 graduate of St. Norbert College in West DePere, Wis., from which he received a "Distinguished Achievement Award in Social Service" in 1983. His honors also include a 1978-79 Notable Americans Award, and 1972 and 1973 recognition as an Outstanding Educator of America.

He completed his master's degree and doctorate at the University of South Dakota, in 1967 and 1969 respectively.

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