Dr. Peter Schakel

Dr. Peter Schakel of the English faculty has been presented the 49th “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” (H.O.P.E.) Award by the graduating Class of 2013.

The H.O.P.E. award, first given in 1965, is presented by the graduating class to the professor who they feel epitomizes the best qualities of the Hope College educator.  Schakel was named the recipient during the college’s Commencement ceremony, held at the Ray and Sue Smith Stadium on Sunday, May 5.

It wasn’t the first time that Schakel, invited to the stage to accept the award, had stood in front of the gathered class.  He had delivered the Opening Convocation address, “A Boy Called Eustace and a Hope Education,” when the members of the Class of 2013 were previously together as a group, as newly minted freshmen in August of 2009.

Schakel is the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Professor of English and chairperson of the department.  He has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1969, and has held his endowed professorship since 1984.

He is an internationally respected scholar of C.S. Lewis’s work.  He has published seven books on Lewis, including most recently “The Way into Narnia: A Reader’s Guide” in 2005 and “Is Your Lord Large Enough?  How C.S. Lewis Expands Our View of God” in 2008.

Schakel has also written and edited books on Jonathan Swift and 18th-century British literature, and has co-authored or co-edited four literature and poetry textbooks with colleague Jack Ridl, professor emeritus of English.

In January of this year, he received the college’s “Provost’s Award for Service to the Academic Program,” and in 2004 Hope presented him with the “Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Award.”  He has received external recognition including a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) fellowship for college teachers during 1979-80; NEH summer seminar support in 1981, 1987 and 1997; and Mythopoeic Society Scholarship Awards in 1984, 1992 and 1996.

Schakel graduated from Central College in Iowa in 1963.  He completed his M.A. at Southern Illinois University in 1964, and his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin in 1969.

Schakel’s family has also been an active part of the Hope community.  His wife of 45 years, Karen, who died in December 2009, served as office manager and editorial assistant of The Van Raalte Institute at Hope.  Their daughter Jennifer and son Jonathan graduated from the college in 1989 and 1994 respectively, their son-in-law Timothy Hoffman is a 1986 Hope graduate, and their grandson Jonathan Hoffman was a Hope freshman during the 2012-13 school year.