Celebrating 14 years of dedicated mentoring, Hope College’s Mortar Board chapter has been renamed in honor of long-time advisor Dr. Dianne Portfleet of the English faculty, who has concluded her tenure with the group this year.

The announcement was made during Hope’s Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 8, at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium and presented as a surprise to Portfleet.  The chapter, formerly the Alcor Chapter, is now the Dianne Portfleet Alcor Chapter.

The chapter has chosen to recognize Dr. Portfleet because she has come to embody the spirit of Hope College Mortar Board. The student members of Mortar Board are committed to their work, but it is because we see the commitment that she has to the organization,” said graduating senior Colin Rensch of Kalamazoo, who was president of the chapter during the recent 2015-16 school year.  “Whether it is going to local businesses to ask for financial support, hosting fun retreats (usually at her wonderful farm), or staying on campus until the conclusion of our meetings at 11 at night only to have to drive 40 minutes back home, Dr. Portfleet shows the deepest commitment to Mortar Board.”

“We are recognizing Dr. Portfleet because, without her, there would be no Hope College Mortar Board and we, the members, would not learn the many lessons that she has to teach,” he said. The three tenets of Mortar Board are scholarship, leadership and service, but with Hope College Mortar Board another should be added: character. It is this character that Dr. Portfleet exemplifies.”

Portfleet is an associate professor of English at Hope, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1988 and will continue to teach.

She began serving with the chapter during the 2002-03 school year, co-advising the group with other members of the campus community.  Across her time with the organization, the chapter received multiple national awards, including being named the top chapter in the country in 2010.  Portfleet was honored twice by the national Mortar Board organization, with an “Excellence in Advising” Award in 2007 and the “Excellence with Advising with Distinction” Award in 2013.

“Throughout Mortar Board nationally Dianne Portfleet is a legend in advising excellence,” said Dr. Abigail Diehl, national president of Mortar Board.  “What makes her so exceptional is her firm belief that an advisor should be an educator—no matter what. Dianne embraces every opportunity to invest in Mortar Board members’ co-curricular learning—no matter where—because she knows that is integral to students’ advancement to life beyond college. Dianne knows that to teach your students, you must be with your students—no matter when.”

“No matter what, no matter where, no matter when—these sum Dianne’s work as an advisor, and as educator and servant-leader,” Diehl said.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 230 collegiate chapters with more than 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

Hope’s chapter has existed since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.  The chapter has received multiple awards at the Mortar Board National Conference during each of the past several years.  During the most recent summer 2015 conference, the chapter received a “Golden Torch Award” and 28 “Project Excellence” awards.

Portfleet has also been honored in other ways at Hope through the years.  She won the “Hope Outstanding Woman” Award in 2003, was presented the annual “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” (H.O.P.E.) Award by the graduating class in 2006 and was the college’s Commencement speaker in 2007.

A 1969 graduate of Pennsylvania State University, she did graduate work at the University of Georgia and received her Ph.D. from Columbia Pacific University in 1984.  She also taught for 12 years at Grand Rapids Baptist College (now Cornerstone University).

The chapter’s co-advisor with Portfleet this past year was Dr. Heidi Kraus, assistant professor of art, who next year will continue to co-advise the chapter along with Dr. Marc Baer, professor emeritus of history; and Eva Dean Folkert, lecturer in interdisciplinary studies.  Serving previously as co-advisors with Portfleet were Rob Pocock, adjunct assistant professor of communication; and Martie Bultman, wife of former Hope president Dr. James Bultman.