A Hope College graduate who appreciated his own undergraduate experience has given a $7 million leadership gift in support of the college's science center project as a way of saying thank you and helping new generations of students.

A Hope College graduate who appreciated his own undergraduate experience has given a $7 million leadership gift in support of the college's science center project as a way of saying thank you and helping new generations of students.

In recognition of the gift, given by Dr. A. Paul Schaap and his wife Carol of Grosse Pointe Park, the college is naming the building the "A. Paul Schaap Science Center." Both the gift and the naming were announced on Friday, May 5, in conjunction with the spring meeting of the college's Board of Trustees.

"This is a generous and transforming gift for this exceptional facility and for enhancing Hope's national reputation in collaborative undergraduate research," said Hope College President Dr. James Bultman. "With this gift, Paul and Carol are giving the largest gift to the science center project, one of the largest gifts Hope has ever received, and in the process are providing the last remaining piece of the very successful 'Legacies: A Vision of Hope'capital campaign."

Scott Wolterink, vice president for advancement at Hope, thanked the Schaaps for their commitment to the project.

"We applaud and celebrate with Paul and Carol, their embracement of the vision for this state-of-the-art facility, its programs and their namesake commitment to the sciences at Hope," Wolterink said. "We are extremely grateful for their leadership gift as it brings this ambitious fundraising effort to completion."

Dr. A. Paul Schaap, who is a 1967 Hope graduate, is president of Lumigen Inc., which he founded, and is also retired from the chemistry faculty of Wayne State University. He noted that he has supported the building in appreciation of the quality of his education and those who helped make it possible.

"I appreciate how important my education and research experience in chemistry at Hope have been to my career, first in academics and now in business, and I see this gift as a chance, with my wife Carol, to give back to Hope and help provide similar opportunities for students for years to come," he said. "The science center is a wonderful facility that offers a stimulating environment for students in the sciences. I'm proud to be associated with the science center in this way."

He noted that he is also honoring the memory of his father, the late Rev. Arnold O. Schaap, a Presbyterian minister who worked selflessly so that he could attend Hope and even, during his senior year, spend a semester abroad conducting research in the Netherlands at the University of Groningen.

"My dad was not a scientist, but he certainly understood and appreciated my passion for chemistry," Schaap said. "It's fair to say as a Presbyterian minister of a small church in Granger, Indiana, he had very limited financial resources, but nevertheless he somehow found the means to help me go to Hope and later to spend that semester doing research in the Netherlands."

Arnold Schaap was himself a Hope graduate, a member of the Class of 1943. He died on Feb. 3, 2005, at age 83.

The Schaaps' gift includes naming the building's three-story atrium in celebration of pioneering Hope chemistry professors Dr. J. Harvey Kleinheksel and Dr. Gerrit Van Zyl, who taught at Hope from the 1920s through the 1960s.

The science center houses the departments of biology, chemistry, the geological and environmental sciences, nursing and psychology, and is located on 12th Street between Central and College avenues. The science center project, part of the college's "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" comprehensive campaign, included construction of a new, 85,900-square-foot building and the renovation of the existing, 72,800-square-foot Peale wing, which had opened in 1973, and was completed for a total cost of $36 million.

Construction began in March of 2002. The new building opened for the beginning of the 2003-04 school year, and the renovated Peale wing re-opened in August of 2004.

Hope dedicated the building on Friday, Oct. 8, 2004. Schaap was one of several alumni who delivered addresses as invited speakers during presentations scheduled throughout the day.

Schaap majored in chemistry at Hope, where he was involved in collaborative student-faculty research from his sophomore through senior years. He went on to receive his doctorate in organic chemistry from Harvard University in 1970, joining the Wayne State faculty that same year.

Schaap's research at Wayne State focused on the study of dioxetanes, high-energy chemical compounds which can be triggered to generate chemiluminescence, or light. He directed the study of nine master's in chemistry students and 18 Ph.D. students, and published more than 100 papers in refereed research journals.

While continuing his teaching and research efforts at Wayne State, he formed Lumigen Inc. in 1987 to commercialize the dioxetanes which had been developed in his research laboratory. The dioxetanes are now distributed worldwide by major corporations because of their sensitivity, versatility and stability as chemiluminescent detection reagents in life science research and medical diagnostics.

Schaap retired from Wayne State in 2000 to become full-time president of Lumigen. The Southfield company now has 43 employees including 10 Ph.D. scientists.

He remains involved with Wayne State as a member of the Board of Visitors of the College of Science and of the Steering Committee of the Mott Center. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Detroit Merit Academy, and is a member of St. Ambrose Church in Grosse Pointe Park.

In recognition of his career accomplishments, the college's alumni association earlier in the year had chosen to present him with a Distinguished Alumni Award in conjunction with the college's annual spring Alumni Weekend. Schaap will receive the award during the association's Alumni Banquet on Saturday, May 6.