Michelle Bombe

Professor of Theatre, Department Chair
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Michelle Bombe began teaching at Hope in 1991. She serves as the chair of the department and resident costume designer. As department chair, she is responsible for the academic program of the department and overseeing all aspects of the theatre program.

Michelle teaches courses in costume design, principles of design and introduction to theatre practice. She also enjoys teaching Senior Seminar and First Year Seminars.

Michelle has designed costumes or mentors her advanced student designers for all of the theatre productions at Hope. Michelle enjoys the faculty-student research that is part of the preparation for every production. She cites creating the “world of the play” as the most satisfying part of the costume design process. Some of Michelle’s most enjoyable experiences at Hope have been producing productions with many guest artists including Nathan Allen, artistic director of The House Theatre of Chicago, which resulted in the 2007 production of Rose and The Rime, which was selected to tour to the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the honor to be selected to travel to the National Festival in Washington, D.C., in 2008.

In addition to teaching and advising, Michelle has been very active in campus governance. She was elected a faculty trustee on the Hope College Board of Trustees for a term from 2008–2012. Michelle has chaired the Professional Interests Committee, the Administrative Affairs Board and the Campus Life Board, and has served on the Campus Climate Committee, the GLCA Academic Council, the Committee to Evaluate the Core Curriculum, the Strategic Thinking Council, the CrossRoads Advisory Committee and the President’s Advisory Committee.

Areas of expertise

Michelle has expertise in the area of costume history, history of design and architecture. Part of the job of the costume designer is to have knowledge of clothing, accessories, hairstyle and facial hair styles for every period of history. Michelle has also studied color theory and how design elements correlate to help audiences understand personality.


  • MFA, theatre design, University of Texas – Austin, 1989
  • B.S., theatre, University of Evansville, 1985
  • A.S., theatre, Vincennes University, 1983

Awards & Recognition

  • Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Gold Medallion for Excellence in Theatre Education, 2016  
  • Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Design Excellence Awards, 2016
  • 25 year service award, Hope College, 2016
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Lincoln High School, Vincennes, Indiana, 2006
  • Recent Outstanding Alumni Award, Vincennes University, 1987

Regional and National Offices

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

  • National Chair and CEO, 2020
  • National Vice Chair and CFO, 2016–present
  • Region III Financial Director KCACTF, 2014–present
  • Region III Selection Committee, 2004–present
  • Region III Chair, 2012–2014
  • Region III Vice Chair, 2009–2011
  • Michigan State Chair, 2006–2009

Artistic performances and productions

Michelle has designed costumes for over 120 theatre productions. In addition to her academic work she has designed professionally at Kentucky Shakespeare Festival (10 seasons), Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (17 seasons) and Theatre at Monmouth.

In 2008, the Jasper Arts Center in Jasper, Indiana, held an exhibition titled Michelle Bombe: Costume Designs for Kentucky Shakespeare Festival 1998–2008.

Outside the college

Shakespeare Behind Bars, the prison Shakespeare program founded by her husband, Curt Tofteland, has been an important component of Michelle’s career. She served for 10 years as the costume designer for the original program at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky. She appears in the 2005 award-winning documentary, Shakespeare Behind Bars, by Philomath Films and has toured film festivals, conferences and colleges across the U.S. and abroad with Curt Tofteland to talk about her experience working in the prison. She continues to visit the program Tofteland runs in Michigan, has taught several courses with field trips to prisons in both Michigan and Kentucky, and serves on the board of directors for the organization.

Michelle is an avid runner, having ran in six marathons, including Chicago and the New York City marathons. Yoga is also an integral part of her life. Hiking, biking and kayaking are also favorite activities.

Michelle loves to travel and spent her last sabbatical in Brisbane, Australia. New Zealand, France and England have been favorite travel destinations. In 2011 Michelle received a New Directions Grant from the Great Lakes College Association to attend a language school in France for two weeks.

Michelle and her husband Curt have raised three children: Joshua, Alexandra and Griffin. They enjoy visiting them in Chicago and have two grandchildren, Hazel and Hutch.

Profile photo of  Michelle Bombe
Michelle Bombe

Phone Number616.395.7598

DeWitt Student Cultural Center Floor 2 141 East 12th Street Holland, MI 49423-3607
A map showing the location for  Michelle Bombe DeWitt Student Cultural Center Floor 2 141 East 12th Street Holland MI 49423-3607