Hope College’s 150th Commencement, celebrating the graduating Class of 2015, will be held on Sunday, May 3, at 3 p.m. at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium.
Baccalaureate will be held earlier in the day, at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.
More than 700 graduating seniors will be participating.
The Commencement speaker will be Tim Schoonveld, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, Co-Director of Athletics and Associate Director of the Center for Faithful Leadership at Hope. The Baccalaureate sermon will be delivered by Gerald Pillay, who is Vice Chancellor and Rector of Liverpool Hope University in England, one of Hope’s international partner institutions, and is also a member of the Hope College Board of Trustees.
Schoonveld has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2009.
He participates in campus life in a variety of ways in addition to his teaching, co-administering the college's 20 sports for men and women with faculty colleague Melinda Larson and service with the Center for Faithful Leadership. Among other activity, in 2013 he spoke through the Last Lecture Series at the invitation of the college’s chapter of Mortar Board, presenting “BLESSED: A Life Shaped by Others.”
Schoonveld is a 1996 Hope graduate who majored in kinesiology with a minor in political science. Prior to attending Hope, he attended Calvin College, where he played basketball until his career as a collegiate player was ended by a series of knee injuries.
He received the M.A. in sports administration from Western Michigan University in 2005.
From 1997 until 2000 he was the men’s junior varsity basketball coach at Hope while teaching in the Zeeland public schools system. He was employed with the Holland Christian schools from 2000 until joining the Hope faculty, serving as the girls’ varsity basketball coach at Holland Christian High School from 2000 to 2009, and as assistant principal and athletic director of Holland Christian High School from 2006 to 2009.
He was named the Class B coach of the year by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan in 2008 after his team advanced to the state tournament semi-finals. The 2009 team made it to the quarterfinals with a school-record 21 wins.
Schoonveld and his wife, Lisa, who is a 1997 Hope graduate, both grew up in the Holland/Zeeland area. They have three children: Elijah, Kenedy and Teagan.
As Vice Chancellor and Rector, Pillay is the chief executive officer of Liverpool Hope University. He is responsible to the University Council for the organization, academic direction and management of the university and leadership of staff.
A citizen of both New Zealand and the United Kingdom, he was born in the former British colony of Natal in South Africa. He is widely published and has a distinguished academic career. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Rhodes University and a Doctor of Theology degree from the University of Durban. After lecturing at the University of Durban-Westville for nine years, he became professor of ecclesiastical history at the University of South Africa in 1988.
In 1997 Pillay became Foundation Professor of Theology and head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Otago University, New Zealand’s oldest university, based in Dunedin. In 1998, he was asked to serve as the first head of liberal arts within that university. He has served in senior leadership roles at The University of South Africa and the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria, and has lectured in several institutions abroad including the United States.
He joined Liverpool Hope University College as Rector in 2003 and become Liverpool Hope University’s first Vice-Chancellor in 2005 when the institution was given full university status.
In 2009, Pillay was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the county of Merseyside, which includes Liverpool, assisting the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside in carrying out her role as the Queen’s representative on Merseyside.
Pillay received an honorary degree from Hope in 2013. He and his wife, Nirmala, who is teaching at Hope this semester as a visiting professor of political science, have two children, Kirubin and Sudershan.
In the event of rain, Commencement will be held at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse. Admission to Baccalaureate, and to Commencement if indoors, is by ticket only.