Dr. Gisela Strand of Holland, who retired from the Hope College German faculty in 2001 after teaching at the college for 32 years, died on Wednesday, Nov. 6. She was 74.
She was born in Hannover, Germany, on April 26, 1939. She did her undergraduate work in English and history at the University of Freiburg and the University of Vienna; completed a master’s degree in social studies at the University of Chicago; and completed her doctorate in German at Vanderbilt University.
Strand joined the Hope faculty as an instructor in 1969. She was promoted to assistant professor in 1973, associate professor in 1980 and professor in 1989.
In a profile published in the college’s 1981-82 “Catalog,” she said, “The thing I most like about teaching is that it’s learning. A teacher, like a student, is always coming in contact with new materials.”
She continued, “I also like teaching because it is a profession with instant rewards. You can tell in a glance if you have been successful in presenting something to your students.”
Strand taught courses not only on the German language, but on German culture and literature. Her involvement in the life of the college also included coordinating the department’s “language houses” for students sharing an interest in the same language, and advising the German Club and the Delta Phi Alpha German honorary society.
"I am deeply saddened by the news of Gisela's death, and feel the intense loss of a highly creative and outstanding educator, a kind-natured, energetic, enthusiastic and ever-optimistic human being, and a dear mentor and very close family friend," said Brian Gibbs of Bad Homburg, Germany, a 1984 Hope graduate who majored in German, international studies and business administration and now serves on the college's Alumni Association Board of Directors. "She was loved by many people, just as she so deeply loved people, nature and life."
"I am fortunate and a better person for the inspired classroom instruction, wisdom and lifelong friendship shared with me by several Hope College faculty members," Gibbs said. "Gisela was among the very dearest of them."
In addition to being featured in the 1981-82 “Catalog,” she was highlighted in the article “Six classrooms in the humanities” in the college’s “News from Hope College” publication in April 1987, and shared reflections of childhood Christmas in Germany in a column in the December 1987 issue of “News from Hope College.”
Strand had received several external grants during her time at Hope, including a fellowship-in-residence and two summer seminar awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a Fulbright summer seminar award, a Lilly summer fellowship, a Mellon faculty development grant and multiple grants from the Goethe Institute to participate in seminars. She was the author of several published papers, and had made numerous presentations at professional conferences and workshops. Her professional activities had also included serving as a consultant and panelist for NEH summer seminars.
She was a member of Delta Phi Alpha, the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) and the Michigan Foreign Language Association.
Prior to coming to Hope, Strand had taught at Vanderbilt University.
A memorial service will be held at Grace Episcopal Church in Holland on Saturday Nov. 23 at 2 p.m.