Jack Ridl, professor of English at Hope College, is receiving a 2005 "Alumni Citation Award" from Westminster College of New Wilmington, Pa.
Ridl, who has taught at Hope since 1971, graduated from Westminster College with a bachelor's degree in 1967 and completed his Master of Education degree there in 1970. His connection to Westminster, however, goes back to childhood: his father, the late Charles "Buzz" Ridl, coached at the college in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Westminster College Alumni Citation Awards recognize Westminster alumni who have distinguished themselves through significant accomplishments in their professions, their community or service to Westminster. Ridl will be recognized during a ceremony at Westminster on Friday, Sept. 23, in conjunction with the college's Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.
As it happens, one of the other two Westminster alumni who are being honored during the weekend also has a Hope connection. Dr. David Orr, a 1965 Westminster graduate who is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College, delivered a keynote address and led a focus session during Hope's October 2001 Critical Issues Symposium, "Earth Matters: Daily Decisions, Environmental Echoes." Ridl and Orr have known each other since childhood - Orr's father was Westminster's president during the time that Ridl's father coached at the college.
Ridl has received multiple honors through the years for his teaching and his poetry.
In 1996, he was chosen Michigan's "Professor of the Year" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The college's graduating class presented him with the "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator" Award in 1976, and the student body elected him recipient of the "Favorite Faculty/Staff Member" Award in 2003. He was chosen by the graduating seniors to be the Commencement speaker in both 1975 and 1986.
He is the author of several collections of poetry, and in 2001 his collection "Against Elegies" was chosen by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins as the winner of the "Letterpress Chapbook Competition" sponsored by the Center for Book Arts of New York City. His earlier books of poetry include "The Same Ghost" (1985), "Between" (1988), the chapbook "After School" (1987), and "Poems from The Same Ghost and Between" (1993), and his next collection, "Broken Symmetry," will be published by Wayne State University Press in 2006. He has published more than 300 poems in more than 60 literary magazines and a dozen anthologies, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize seven times.
Ridl is also co-author, with Hope colleague Peter Schakel, of two textbooks, "Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses" (1996) and "Approaching Literature in the 21st Century: Fiction, Poetry, Drama" (2004).
He has read his work and led workshops at colleges, universities, art colonies and other venues around the country. He teaches introductory, intermediate and advanced courses in poetry writing at Hope, and also founded the college's popular and long-running Visiting Writers Series, which since 1985 has brought more than 150 authors to campus.