Hope College will award an honorary degree to Joel Bouwens of Holland, former chairperson of the college’s Board of Trustees, on Sunday, May 6, during the college’s Commencement ceremony.

Bouwens will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree for distinguished service to the college.

Bouwens chaired the college’s Board of Trustees from August of 2003 through July of 2011  He continues to serve on the board, which he joined in 1993.

Through his years of service on the board, he was a member of the Steering Committee of the college’s “Hope in the Future” comprehensive campaign of the early 1990s and on the cabinet of the college’s “Legacies: A Vision of Hope” comprehensive campaign of 2000 through 2005.  He also chaired the 10-member search committee that selected Dr. James E. Bultman as Hope’s 11th president in 1998.

A 1974 Hope graduate, Bouwens has also been active in the life of the college in other ways, including as an alumni class representative.  He and other family members helped establish the Bouwens Family Scholarship Fund, which honors his parents, Lila and the late Glenn Bouwens, who also attended Hope.

Bouwens, who was raised in Zeeland, majored in business administration and economics at the college, where his activities as a student included the Baker Scholars program and the Fraternal Society.  After graduating from Hope, he earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1976.

Bouwens is a shareholder in the law firm of Cunningham Dalman PC and he is also active in the community. He and his wife, Marianne, a Hope classmate, are members of Christ Memorial Reformed Church, where he has served on the governing consistory.  He serves on the board of Camp Geneva and the Reformed Church Growth Fund.  He and Marianne co-chaired Western Theological Seminary’s “Campaign for Western in the 21st Century” with Max and Connie Boersma. He was previously a past president and board member of Resthaven Inc., served on the steering committee of Young Life, and served as a board member of Junior Achievement of Holland.  

Joel and Marianne have three children, all of whom graduated from Hope:  Dr. Thomas J. Bouwens, a member of the Class of 2000; Dr. Daniel G. Bouwens, a member of the Class of 2003; and Martha A. DeWitt, a member of the Class of 2005. They also have seven grandchildren.

The college’s Commencement ceremony will take place at Holland Municipal Stadium (inside the DeVos Fieldhouse in the event of rain).  Tickets are required only if the event is held inside.