Dr. James HerrickDr. James Herrick

Dr. James Herrick, who retired from the communication faculty in 2020 after teaching at Hope for 36 years, died on Friday, May 24, 2024. He was 69.

Herrick, whose areas of expertise included history and theory of rhetoric, argumentation, new spiritual movements and the rhetoric of technology, joined the Hope faculty in 1984. He chaired the Department of Communication from 1993 to 2002, and from 2002 until retiring he held an endowed position as the Guy Vander Jagt '53 Professor of Communication. He was chosen to deliver the college’s Opening Convocation address in 1994, and in 2007 he received both Hope’s Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Award and a faculty-appreciation award from students.

He played a major role in the early 2000s in developing the college’s Virtues of Public Discourse, five biblically grounded guidelines intended to foster constructive campus discussions, whether in the classroom, in conversations or during public events.  As he explained during a panel discussion held on campus in advance of the November 2016 presidential election, “[T]hese are not intuitive and we need reminders. Documents such as the Virtues of Public Discourse constitute us as a community and remind us of our standards when it feels inconvenient to live them out. Without such a statement of what we stand for, we run the risk of becoming a tactical community rather than a conversational one.”

He was the author of several books, including textbooks on rhetoric and argumentation that were published in multiple editions.  His book “The Making of the New Spirituality: The Eclipse of the Western Religious Tradition” was named a 2004 “Gold Medallion Book Award Finalist” by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and one of “Ten Books Every Preacher Should Read” by Preaching magazine; and “After the Genome: A Language for Our Biotechnical Future” was named Edited Book of the Year by the Communication Ethics Division of the National Communication Association in 2013.  He also had numerous articles in scholarly and popular publications in addition to presenting papers at professional conferences, and wrote entries for the New Dictionary of National Biography and The International Encyclopedia of Censorship.

Herrick served on the editorial boards of “Argumentation and Advocacy” and “The Journal of the Association for Communication Administration,” and was on the founding editorial boards of the Baylor University Press Rhetoric of Religion Series and the electronic journal “The Review of Communication.”  He received external support of his scholarship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

 He held his bachelor’s degree from California State University, his M.A. from the University of California and his Ph.D. in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Survivors include his wife and best friend of 45 years, Janet; their four children, Daniel, Stephen, Laura (John) and Alicia (Júlio); and their four grandchildren, Genesis ("Gigi"), Jasper, Arielle and Theodore.

A celebration of life ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 15, at 10:30 a.m. at Hope College in the Maas Center, located at 264 Columbia Ave., between 10th and 13th streets.

James Herrick Obituary