Theology and English departments hire new profs

Benjamin Boersma — Staff Writer

Last month, Dordt hired two new professors. Dr. Shaun Stiemsma will join the English department after Dr. Mary Dengler’s retirement, while Dr. David Westfall will take over the vacant position in the theology department.

“It’s not always as simple as hiring someone who does the same thing as the previous professor,” English Department chair Dr. Bob De Smith said. “The job description is pretty open to make sure we get the right person.”

Stiemsma will be teaching the CORE English requirements and a couple of Pro-Tech classes. The other English classes will be divided among the other English professors. In the theology department, Westfall will be teaching the Biblical studies as well as Greek classes next school year, and adding Hebrew the year after that.

“We used to offer Hebrew in the past,” Theology Department chair Rebekah Earnshaw said. “We’re excited to be able to offer it again.”

Each theology professor, including Westfall, will also teach a section of Biblical Foundations.

The search for professors began with advertisements for the new positions, telling candidates to send in their resumes. Stiemsma and Westfall both also had to include an essay responding to Dordt’s mission statement.

“The standards are pretty high,” De Smith said. “Teaching is an important part of the job, but we also want someone who understands the Reformed faith. The challenge is to find someone who has both.”

After several interviews winnowing down options, the remaining candidates visited Dordt. They taught class for a day and went through several in-person interviews with faculty and staff members.

Stiemsma earned his bachelor’s in Secondary English Education from Calvin College, and his Masters and Doctorate in English Language and Literature from the Catholic University of America, where he currently teaches. He’s also taught at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy.

Westfall earned his bachelor’s in Classical Studies and Greek from Calvin College, his Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and his doctorate in New Testament from the University of Saint Andrews, where he studied under theologian N.T. Wright.

Both Stiemsma and Westfall will be moving to Sioux Center this summer to get ready for the upcoming school year.

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