Faculty Farewell

Allison Wordes-Staff Writer

Attema tallies up his time at DordtAttema.jpg

Art Attema has a couple typewriters assembled in his office, located on the upper level of the campus center. He said these typewriters were in high demand during the WWII era because they did not jam up in the grittiness of African desert sand. He started his career with old typewriters because word processors were yet to be installed at Dordt.

Attema is a Business Administration and Education faculty member at Dordt, and has served at the institution for 37 years. He also has served as a faculty senate committee member.

Attema joined the Navy out of high school. After four years overseas he returned to earn his business education degree at Dordt.

He began teaching at Dordt in 1980 after working as a teacher in Ripon, CA, and Bigelow, MN, for seven years. Henry DeGroat, who started the business department, took him out for dinner in Bigelow one day and asked him if he would be a professor at Dordt. Attema did not want to at first, but eventually he took up the offer.

“Dordt has given me a gob of opportunities!” Attema said.

In 1983, he become a faculty sponsor for Dordt’s Business Club, which used to take one trip a year. Since the club started the Bunsen Brew coffee shop, they have raised enough funds to expand to two trips a year.

He worked with the club to do a population census for Rock Rapids, an opportunity that gave students experience and a little extra cash. The club sold all sorts of stuff for fundraising, including Sioux Center coupon books, and students learned about advertisement and funding.

He has been on 40 overnight business trips, but he said this year’s trip home from Denver had the longest ride yet. “We didn’t get home until 3 a.m.!”

Along with teaching business courses, Attema taught senior seminar classes and Core 100 for spring semester students. He enjoyed the variety of students he met in those classes.

He remembers how the business offices used to be scattered throughout the classroom building until the more recent remodeling allowed them to relocate to a unified business pod.

“It was a zoo of offices,” said Attema, “in closets and all that!” Now he feels more connected to students, meeting those who hang around to do homework in the pod by his office.

The department received its first grant at the same time that Attema first came. The grant paid for a computer lab with IBM PCs, with 3 1/2” floppy disks.

“It was quite a rigmarole!” Attema said about the technology. “We had to learn a bunch of control keys.”

At most colleges, computer labs are locked up to the general student body. Dordt’s labs are unusual because they are open to all students.

“I think in all my years we’ve only lost two mice,” said Attema, tapping his laptop mouse. For the first two-thirds of his career, he taught business classes in the computer lab. Computer services took over the complicated task of caring for computers, a task that he used to handle.

Along with his collection of typewriters, Attema enjoys good coffee, Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, fishing and being an active member of Faith CRC in Sioux Center. Since the founding of the church in 1979, he has been on the council and his wife has played the organ. He is passionate about the work the church has been doing to help Christian communities in Laos.

He and his wife are moving to Little Spirit Lake, near Okoboji, in a month.

“I’d much rather camp in a national forest,” said Attema, in contrast to a moving to some small suburban home. He laughed and called it “one more adventure than we can probably handle!”


Kornelis leaves a teaching legacypat.JPG

Dr. Patricia Kornelis has been involved in Dordt’s education department for fifteen years. She has taught courses in the undergraduate program as well as the Masters Education program.

Kornelis served as the Director of Graduate Education from 2006 to 2010. Most recently she became the Director of Student Teaching.

Kornelis began as an adjunct English instructor in 1994 when she and her husband Dr. Benjamin Kornelis, who is a faculty member also retiring from Dordt, moved to the area. As he took up teaching music after Dale Grotenhuis, she started teaching at Dordt while also working for the Advancement Office as a copywriter.

Her pride in working at Dordt, along with a pride in her colleagues, is developing the Professional Development School Model. This is a program designed for year-long student teaching, a process that she has been the coordinator of since 2010.

“She knows me beyond the classroom,” said elementary education senior Morgan Van Hulzen, who Kornelis advises, among other students. “She has my best interests in mind, 100 percent!”

Van Hulzen has been student teaching a 3rd grade class at the elementary school in Sioux Center with the Professional Development System (PDS), a year-long teaching program in which students can teach and get hands-on experience in the classroom.

Van Hulzen said that Kornelis would take her advisees out to breakfast on Friday mornings. Sometimes they would go to Casey’s Bakery to chat about education and life. She got to know her students personally and learned about their families.

Kornelis observed Van Hulzen’s student teaching, watching her in the classroom for 45-minute segments and then providing feedback.

Van Hulzen said she appreciated the specificity of Kornelis’s feedback. Kornelis, said Van Hulzen, notices when certain kids who raise their hands more frequently are called on, and how standing behind a child to help them with a question rather than in front of them sends a different message.

Getting to know and work alongside students has been the highlight of Kornelis’s time at Dordt. She especially enjoyed the privilege of developing relationships both with pre-service teachers and with professional practicing teachers. Her different roles in the education department, especially in the undergrad and grad programs, have provided her with valued occupational experience, as well.

“Helping students to develop a deep understanding of how their faith is integral to all that they do in the classroom is humbling and deeply satisfying,” Kornelis said.

While Van Hulzen was in the middle of the job search process, a position in a 5th grade classroom at Sioux Falls Christian opened up and Van Hulzen earned the position. Kornelis, she said, was a huge proponent for Van Hulzen in getting the job– “She literally called the principal for me!”

Van Hulzen said she will miss both Kornelis professors, who she got to interact with simultaneously on the Concert Choir’s 2015 trip to the Netherlands.

“They’re very strong professionals,” Van Hulzen concluded.


Kok’s care for international studentsKok.jpg

Sanneke Kok’s career at Dordt began with the arrival of Vietnamese refugee students on Dordt’s campus. In response to these students’ arrival, Dordt stepped up to the plate and hired someone who could take these students under their wing, getting to know those who felt so far away from home and who were largely unfamiliar with American culture.

Kok also analyzed the students’ academic needs and then designed courses specifically for them. She does entrance interviews with international students to test their abilities, and she then works with the Department of Language Studies to resolve any issues that arise with a student. Four faculty members work in Kok’s department, and all manage student tutor and international students in the AEC center.

“You’re able to provide students with everything they need,” said Kok about her position.

The required classes she prepared for them teach necessary English skills. The first course teaches higher level English, including how to cite sources. The second teaches speech, and the third focuses on pronunciation. Over the last couple months, Kok said, she has taken the time to reflect on and enjoy the work that has progressed in this department before she leaves her position of 28 years. The goal, she said, is to make a Dordt education even more accessible to all cultures.

Freshman Sarah Selenga from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) said she met Kok the first day she arrived at Dordt. Selenga said that she loves to learn and that she asks lots of questions in Kok’s class. Selenga also said that Kok helped keep her personal stress levels down by telling jokes.

“She’s really sweet and open-minded,” said Selenga, also mentioning Kok’s energy. Through Kok’s encouragement, Selenga has been invigorated to get out and talk to other people. She learned from Kok that being away from home doesn’t mean she should avoid communicating with others.

Kok was born in the Netherlands and then moved with her family to Ontario, Canada at the age of seven. As a postwar immigrant, she is familiar with the phrase “those Dutch people!”

She attended Trinity Christian College and Calvin College in Palos Heights, I.L., and Grand Rapids, M.I., respectively. Looking back on those experiences, she remembers noticing the difference between Dutch people in the U.S. versus Dutch Canadian immigrants. She realized that among the latter, and due to the fact that she studied internationally in the U.S., she was different from the majority of other college students.

Many times people would ask her, “Does everyone [in Canada] live in an igloo?”

Her husband’s interest in philosophy brought the couple back to the Netherlands, where they stayed for 12 years while he studied. While her journey to the Netherlands was like a homecoming for her, being away from the country she had grown accustomed to, and being gone for a long period of time, made her feel like an outsider once more. Kok said she has experienced this same kind of cultural transition several times during her lifetime. Being a stranger is “not exotic” to Kok.

Her experiences have led her to some larger cities, not always to small towns like Sioux Center. But even in Sioux Center, she meets people from all over. Kok has been actively involved in the Sioux Center Hispanic community, and is currently taking a Spanish class. Diversity has grown a lot at Dordt, said Kok.

This summer she hopes to travel to France to meet up with former college friends. If the opportunity arises, she hopes to return to the Netherlands someday.

“I’m sorry she’s retiring, but I don’t think she needs it!” said Selenga. Kok is tireless, she said, and sometimes makes her feel like the older one.


Theology prof makes Dordt historyKobes.jpg

While working in a factory during the summers in high school, Wayne Kobes observed that Christians worked hard and conducted themselves well, working cheerfully no matter the situation.

He teaches Dordt’s reformational perspective in the footsteps of Abraham Kuyper. If students can leave with that, he said, Dordt has achieved its purpose.

“We don’t have all the answers to live faithfully,” said Kobees.

Kobes grew up in Sioux City and chose to attend Dordt because it offered a lot of classical language classes. He graduated from Dordt in 1969 and went to Calvin College in 1972 to receive his Masters of Old Testament theology. He also became an ordained minister. In 1973 he returned to Dordt to teach as they were expanding the theology department. Theology, in fact, has always been a Core class at Dordt. What used to be called Theology 101 is now Core 150.

Kobes is always amazed by how often he runs into former students, even while in Europe. After 43 years of teaching, he is starting to see the next generation in his classroom.

Dordt staff, administration and students have become dear to him. He said of the theology department, “it becomes very much your family.” He said the department is “a very alive community.”

Kobes and Art Attema both served on the academic senate together and, and an aside, both share a love of Yellowstone National Park. “You’re not glued to any area,” said Kobes about vacationing to this area, “it’s what you make of where you are.”

He met his Californian wife at Dordt. She taught elementary physical education at the Sioux Center school for some years. All of his children went to Dordt and earned history majors. One of his daughters is chair of the history department at Calvin and another daughter works at the Blue Bunny corporate office.

Kobes will stay in Sioux Center after retirement and hopes in retiring to spend more time with his family. He and his son are planning to write a book in the coming years. The book will focus on making theology understandable to church members, especially since not everyone has a degree.

People with college degrees, he said, should be especially careful in understanding theology, because “pride in academics is on steroids.”

“It’s such a blur – there’s a lot going on at the end,” said Kobes, in finishing out his final semester.


Campus flourishes thanks to maintenance director Oordt.jpg

Physical plant director Stan Oordt gestures at the wide map of campus that hangs in his maintenance building office, pointing to where the roads used to snake their way through campus. He indicates where the new parking lots are located; he reminisces about what used to be cornfields; he remembers the road that not too long ago ran through what is now the newly built science building. Where parking lots used to be smack dab in the middle of campus there are now sidewalks. And the Student Center wasn’t always there. And the President lived where the nursing building is today. And there was no soccer field.

“Dordt has changed dynamically,” said Oordt about the past two decades.

Oordt has been the director of the physical plant at Dordt for 26 years, since 1991.

Oordt started his career at Dordt as a science building custodian. This year, with the remodeling and construction going on, he once again finds himself working there, his time at the college coming full circle. The organic chemistry lab, he said, is done being built, but she also feels that the workers are still creating a lot of dust and dirt mess.

Howard Wilson works with Oordt to do operational tasks on campus, such as “keeping the doors open and the lights on.” Wilson, who has worked as chief administration officer at Dordt for four years, works with Oordt to make sure everything is best taken care of.

“We’re figuring out the pieces in the puzzle,” said Wilson, referring to construction. Three to four master plans have been constructed since Oordt has been here.

What Oordt enjoys the most about working in maintenance is the people and their dedication. He calls them at 4:30 AM for snow removal so that all the sidewalks, building entrances, and roads are clear before 8:00 AM.

“He takes deep personal interest in his employees,” said Wilson.

Looking ahead to a new faculty member who will start this spring, Oordt said that six of Dordt’s  25 full-time members have been dedicated the college for over 25 years. For instance, the women who clean Covenant Hall have been working at Dordt since 1998. They “know how things work,” said Oordt, commending his team. “I’ll miss them.”

100 students work on-campus during the school year, and 50-70 work full time during the summer. They “require a lot of supervision.” The hardest part, he said, is learning the names of all the students. He said they used to interview 200 students to get just 70, but recently maintenance has received fewer applications. There is a lot of one-on-one work between students and team members in the summer.

“Some of those relationships are phenomenal,” said Oordt.

Oordt said the maintenance team is like a tool, and that he is the one who whose duty it is to keep the tools sharp.

“It’s more hands-on; I don’t wear a suit and tie to work,” said Oordt.

Students are less aware of the maintenance department than professors or other administration, said Oordt. “We run under the radar.” Unless they are needed they remain indiscreet. Students will come in to the building to pick up keys, or if they need help starting a car.

Oordt and the team didn’t know there was a competition for most beautiful campus until the ranking came out, a ranking that placed Dordt as the second-most most beautiful campus in the Midwest.

“They’re already thinking about what they want to do to be first!” said Oordt. He joked that getting second out of 25 contestants “means there’s still 23 behind you.”

On an average day, Oordt will spend the mornings answering emails, going to the construction site, going to meetings, picking out new carpet or architects, burning down a farmhouse or working on random projects that come up.

People problems, he said, are harder to fix than scooping sidewalks.

Oordt’s passion is planning new buildings on campus. He helped with the construction of Southview (1993), Covenant Hall, the Rec center and other on-campus buildings. Every building on campus has been remodeled since he’s been here.

“The college is the best it’s ever been,” said Oordt. He mentioned the great administration, successful programs, growing retention rate of students, financial stability and variety of programs available.

The new science building opens in August 2017, as well as the sky bridge. Significant changes are coming, especially with the pro-tech program. A master plan shows hopeful changes for academic center for pro-tech or nursing, moving the commons, or a new residence hall possibly south of Kuyper.

Wilson hopes that when Oordt retires he can spend more time outdoors chasing fish and pheasants. Oordt plans to stay in Sioux Center, staying involved in community and looking for opportunities to build God’s Kingdom. He has close family in Orange City as well.

An interview process is going on to find a new director of maintenance to take up his position.

A framed saying on the maintenance office wall reads, “Any society can be galvanized for a while to build something, but the will and the skill to keep things in good repair day in, and day out, are fairly rare.”

Leave a Comment or Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s