Hope College’s Boerigter Center for Calling and Career and Van Wylen Library have received the 2021 group Innovation Award from the Commission for Career Services of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA).

The award honors a team that has initiated and developed an innovative program, service delivery, approach or assessment in career services. It is based on creativity, student impact, and success of the program, as determined by the achievement of the stated program goals.  The Boerigter Center and Van Wylen Library are being honored along with the institutional and individual recipients of other awards during the ACPA’s annual convention, which is being held virtually from Monday, March 1, through Wednesday, March 17.

The award is in recognition of a targeted skills training program started in May of 2020.  Members of the Boerigter Center and Van Wylen Library teams collaborated with partners from the Department of Economics and Business and the Office of Philanthropy and Engagement to deliver an extracurricular training program on Tableau, a popular data analytics and visualization tool used in multiple disciplines and industries.  A total of 48 students have completed the program thus far, earning the Tableau Analyst Badge which they can post on their resume and online profiles.

“I am particularly proud of the collaboration between our offices,” said Shonn Colbrunn, who is executive director of the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career.  “We identified a hot skill in the job market, connected with a generous donor and then leaned on the digital instruction expertise of Van Wylen Library faculty to bring the program to life.”

  The Innovation Award is the second external recognition that the Boerigter Center has received within the past 12 months.  Last spring, the center was named a Program of Distinction by Colleges of Distinction.

“This project is a good example of the innovative thinking coming from the Boerigter Center,” Colbrunn said.  “Hope’s well-rounded, liberal arts education gives our students a foundation for success throughout their careers.  Adding a skill-based credential is a way to make them stand out to land their first job.”

Hope’s Boerigter Center for Calling and Career is a college-wide initiative that seeks to inspire students to engage in lifelong practices of career development by emphasizing discernment, preparation and pursuit.  Programming for the Boerigter Center is designed to enable all Hope students, beginning in their first semester, to understand their strengths, engage in experiences that directly connect to career preparation, discern vocational and life goals, and ascertain clear next steps toward their future.  Integrated into the academic program of the college, it includes and expands on the work of Hope’s former Career Development Center in combination with staff from the college’s academic advising and alumni and family engagement programs.

The center provides guidance and opportunities for career exploration throughout students’ years at Hope.  In their first year, students take assessments to help them better understand their strengths and interests, and gain information about academic majors and careers related to those strengths and interests.  As sophomores, they declare a major and can pursue internships in their fields of interest, a process that continues the next year.  The junior year focuses on networking and interview preparation and practice, with the senior year emphasizing the job search or graduate-school planning.

The Boerigter Center for Career and Calling, which opened in the fall of 2018, was made possible by a major gift from SoundOff Signal in honor of founder and chairman George Boerigter, who is a 1961 Hope College graduate, and his wife, Sibilla. Based in Hudsonville, SoundOff Signal provides high-tech safety lighting solutions across the globe.

The Van Wylen Library has 10 full-time librarians, 12 full- and part-time support staff, and nearly 65 student assistants.  Hope librarians teach an array of library and information literacy instruction sessions in both general education and discipline-specific classes, and have also created interactive tutorials designed to teach students a variety of information literacy skills.  The targeted skills training program was supported by the digital arts librarian, Tori Longfield.

The library’s collection includes approximately 260,000 print books, 700,000 e-books and access to more than 75,000 journals, and students and faculty can request material from libraries throughout Michigan through the online MeLCat system.  Additional services provided by or housed at the library include the research help desk, circulation desk, archives and rare books, Digital Media Lab and Klooster Center for Excellence in Writing.  The five-floor library opened in 1988 and is named for Hope’s ninth president and his wife, Dr. Gordon J. Van Wylen and Dr. Margaret D. Van Wylen.  The library received the Association of College and Research Libraries Excellence in Academic Libraries Award in 2004.

The American College Personnel Association (ACPA), which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., at the National Center for Higher Education, is the leading comprehensive student affairs association that advances student affairs and engages students for a lifetime of learning and discovery.  Founded in 1924, the association has nearly 7,500 members representing 1,200 private and public institutions from across the U.S. and around the world. ACPA members include graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in student affairs/higher education administration programs, faculty, and student affairs educators, from entry level to senior student affairs officers, and organizations and companies that are engaged in the campus marketplace.