The Official Student Newspaper of Calvin College Since 1907
November 19, 2004
Volume 99, Issue 12
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Vande Kopple named Professor of the Year
Senior students congratulate their Professor of the Year.
Calvin's Professor of the Year.

Only one of 397 professors at Calvin is pronounced by a majority of outgoing seniors as their favorite.

Seniors of ’05 this year have named Dr. William Vande Kopple of Calvin’s English faculty as the professor of the year. He was presented with an engraved clock at the Senior Breakfast on Commencement morning.

Kopple was one of other 45 professors nominated by seniors. On commencement Saturday morning, a group of seniors knocked on the door of Kopple’s home, bringing news of the final decision.

Vande Kopple shared his feelings about the surprise that Saturday morning.

“Overall, my response was, as I remember, ran from shock and surprise, through

an overwhelming sense of humility, to a profound sense of gratitude. I had had

a little inkling about two weeks before that day that I might be on the list,

since one of my students, on seeing me near the gym, took off on a run and

yelled out, “I voted for you.”

But then I thought that if I actually won the award, surely someone would tell me a few days ahead of time so that I wouldn’t be surprised early on the morning of

Commencement and run the risk of a vascular event due to the shock. When no advance warning came, I assumed that the winner couldn’t be me. But then some wonderful students showed up at our house very early that morning! My family seemed proud that they had kept the secret (they had been called earlier) and very happy for me.”

For students who have never met Vande Kopple or taken any of his classes, this final verdict may come as a surprise.

But like many other professors, he can barely meet every student on campus. Kopple explained that he doesn’t teach introductory English classes which is why he may not meet some students particularly freshmen.

But students he has taught believe this English Professor deserves the title.

Senior Kristi Schroeder believes “He definitely deserves Prof of the year. He always has an open door to his office whenever I have scheduling conflicts or questions. He takes time to get to know his students and build friendships with them and I see him at every soccer game supporting his sons (who play on the team) and their teammates.”

“Professor Vande Kopple is both a fine professor and a good man,” added Post –Baccalaureate Johan deZoete.” Like his partner in crime, Professor VandenBosch, he is blessed with an ability to teach complex material in a way that makes the issues clearly understandable, draws students into a dialogue about these issues, and engages students in such a way that they are made to articulate their position on an a particular issue and, at the same time, are able to look at and understand that issue from more than one perspective”.

On paying Kopple a visit at his office, it doesn’t take one long to learn that family and fishing hold an important place in his life.

His office had the tons of books that characterize many professors’ offices stacked in shelves on two opposite sides of the walls.Papers and surplus books spilled over in small stacks in a far corner of the room. The lower lying and bare portions of the walls closest to his working area was lined with pictures of Kopple and his family on a fishing expedition or him with a fish in hand. The wall opposite him had about twelve lined up pictures of his sons — as toddlers children and as teenagers.

Schroeder also gave a glimpse about the amusing sides of Vande Kopple.

“He is a hilarious! He is one of the most amusing Profs in the whole English department by far. No matter how tired I am for class, I’ll never skip class because I know he’ll make me laugh, and get me in the mood to listen and learn. In fact for my last class of my college career, I registered for the “Vandes,” being the infamous tag team of Prof. Vande Kopple and Vanden Bosch’s interim class in English grammar.”

According to Alumni programs coordinator Barb Hoogeboom, the Professor of the year award started in 1998.Former winners are Professors Larry Louters, Ken Bratt, Richard Whitekette, James Vanden Bosch, Jennifer Holberg and Dale Brown.

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