Campus Scene


Dr. Deborah Van Duinen

The college’s 161st academic year is nigh, with the members of the incoming Class of 2026 arrive on Friday, Aug. 26, for the start of New Student Orientation that evening.

The rest of the students will begin to return on Sunday, Aug. 28. The Opening Convocation marking the official beginning of the school year will take place on Sunday, Aug. 28, at 2 p.m. with featured speaker Dr. Deborah Van Duinen, who is the Arnold and Esther Sonneveldt Associate Professor of Education and founding director of the Hope College NEA Big Read Lakeshore and Little Read Lakeshore.


Becky Starkenburg

Hope’s new dean of students joined the college earlier this month equipped with two decades of leadership experience in higher education and a deep appreciation of the impact of a liberal arts education in the context of the Christian faith.

Becky Starkenburg, who was previously vice president for student life and Title IX coordinator at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, was chosen following a national search and began in her new role on August 1. Across her career, she has had a range of leadership experiences in student development, including in residence life, student leadership, counseling, vocation and career, community engagement, athletics, and diversity, equity and inclusion.


Hope presented honorary degrees during its Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 8, to Dr. Robert Donia ’67 and Dr. Richard Frost.

Donia is an internationally recognized expert on Bosnia and Herzegovina, and received an honorary Doctor of Law degree for his many years of public service in defense of human rights and work toward international justice. Frost retired from Hope at the end of the school year as vice president for student development and dean of students after serving at the college for 33 years, and received an honorary Doctor of Arts (D.A.) degree for his many years of dedication to the holistic development of college students.


The Hope College Board of Trustees has appointed two new officers and three new members.

Dr. Stephen Boerigter of Los Alamos, New Mexico, who previously served as secretary, has been elected chair, succeeding Karl Droppers ’82 of Holland, Michigan, whose term is ending. Dr. Matthew Wixson ’08 of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is continuing to serve as vice chair. Sandra Gaddy of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been elected secretary, succeeding Boerigter.

The new Trustees are Lisa Meengs ’95 Joldersma of Washington, D.C.; Dr. Jeanne Petit of Holland; and Dr. Jon Soderstrom ’76 of Madison, Connecticut.

In addition to Droppers, the Trustees who have concluded their service to the board are: Dr. Virginia Beard of Holland; and Mark Van Genderen ’90 of Cedarburg, Wisconsin.


An active May and June for the NEA Big Read Lakeshore and Little Read Lakeshore organized by Hope included a statewide honor for 2021 and continued grant support.

In May, they were named the Statewide Community Impact Partner of the Year for 2021 by Michigan Humanities.

In June, they received support, respectively, from the nationwide NEA Big Read ($19,000) and Michigan Humanities ($15,000). This year’s Big Read Lakeshore will feature Madeline Miller’s Circe. The Little Read Lakeshore for children will feature the picture book Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson. For middle readers, the program will feature Homer’s The Odyssey; the young-adult novels Miles Morales: Spider-Man, by Jason Reynolds, and Superman: Dawnbreaker, by Matt de la Peña, and the graphic novel Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke.


In addition to the nine faculty retirees highlighted in the Spring 2022 issue, three more current or former professors retired at the conclusion of the 2021-22 academic year:

David James ’76David James ’76, coordinator of academic coaching with Hope’s Academic Success Center, who for some 35 of his 37 years at Hope was also a member of the English faculty, most recently as an adjunct associate professor;

Dr. William PannapackerDr. William Pannapacker, professor of English and senior director of Mellon Initiatives, a member of the Hope faculty for 22 years; and

Dr. Jeffrey PoletDr. Jeffrey Polet, professor of political science, a member of the Hope faculty for 18 years.

Stories about each are featured online along with the others’ features.


Dr. Anne Heath

Dr. Anne Heath of the art and art history faculty has received a Summer Stipend for research from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The grant is one of only 103 Summer Stipends awarded by the NEH to scholars around the country. The $6,000 stipends support full-time work on a humanities project for two months.

Heath, who holds the college’s Howard R. and Margaret E. Sluyter Professorship in Art and Design, is investigating the relationship between how the Abbey of La Trinité (the Holy Trinity) in Vendôme, France, displayed a religious relic known as The Holy Tear of Christ during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and what people of the time experienced when they came to the abbey on pilgrimage.


Dr. Herb Weller, who retired in 1996 as professor emeritus of Spanish after 34 years on the faculty, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of Holland’s Human Relations Commission during the annual Social Justice Awards ceremony held during the city council meeting on Jan. 19, 2022.

He was honored “for dedicating his life to building a culture of learning and connection between the City of Holland and the wider world.”


Three graduating seniors won regional awards for excellence from the Midwestern chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology for student-faculty collaborative research projects. They were honored during the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association held on April 21-23.

Ellie Margason ’22 of Hinsdale, Illinois, and Zach Wiggins ’22 of Kalamazoo were honored for “Does Affirming Privileged Groups Make Them More Sympathetic to Outgroups’ Explanations about Racism?” They conducted the work mentored by Dr. Mary Inman, professor of psychology.

Sabrina Blank ’22 of Traverse City was honored for “Forgive, Fall Asleep, and Flourish: Overcoming Rumination through Compassion.” She conducted the work mentored by Dr. Andrew Gall, associate professor of psychology; and Dr. Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, who is the Lavern ’39 and Betty DePree ’41 Professor of Psychology.


Two films by Hope students prepared through the college’s Digital Cinema course won awards this spring in statewide and national collegiate competitions.

Ebb and Flow was the 2022 winner in the Fiction – Short Form category of the 2022 Student Production Awards presented by the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It was produced by Matt Severino, Carter Damaska, Sam Joachim, Adrienne Johnson, Tyler Grose, Luke Goral and Emily Mann.

Don’t Look Back won an Award of Excellence in the Short-Form Documentary category of the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts National Competition, and second place in the Documentary category of the 2022 Michigan Student Broadcast Awards presented by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. It was produced by Katy Smith, Caleigh Miller, Rylee Thayer, Trinity Frye and Yailyn Compres.


Virologist Dr. Benjamin Kopek of the biology faculty has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award that will take him to Paris, France, to participate in the international effort to head off future global pandemics.

He will spend the 2022-23 academic year conducting research at the Pasteur Institute. He will be focusing on a specific step in the route traveled by many infectious diseases, seeking to determine why the insects such as mosquitos that frequently spread them don’t get sick.


A collaborative student-faculty research project led by nursing professor Dr. Vicki Voskuil seeking to help adolescent girls improve their health by becoming more physically active has won a Distinguished Abstract award from the Midwest Nursing Research Society. The MNRS honored 13 abstracts, out of more than 500 accepted for presentation at the society’s annual conference.


Hope seniors Seth Almquist of Plymouth, Minnesota, and Claire Benedict of Ada, Michigan, have each received highly competitive scholarships from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Only 417 scholarships were awarded. They are for one or two years, depending on the recipient’s year in school, and cover tuition, mandatory fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Almquist is pursuing a composite major with an emphasis in environmental geochemistry. Benedict is double-majoring in chemistry and Spanish.


Hope College Formula Racing earned 14th place overall out of the 90 teams from throughout the United States as well as Canada, Colombia and Mexico that participated in the Formula SAE competition held at Michigan International Speedway on May 18-21.

Hope’s finish was its second highest in its five appearances at the speedway event since 2010. The college placed 9th out of 45 teams in 2021.