Dordt College News

Blankespoor, Vogelzang are 2008 Distinguished Alumni

February 5, 2008

Dordt College has announced the selection of two Distinguished Alumni Award recipients for 2008. They are Morris Blankespoor (Class of ’66) and Mark Vogelzang (Class of ’79).

Blankespoor and Vogelzang will be officially recognized during Dordt College’s Alumni Weekend, Feb. 15-16. Both will speak at a Friday night alumni banquet and at student chapels (Vogelzang Feb. 14, and Blankespoor Feb. 19, at 10:50 a.m. in the B.J. Haan Auditorium).

Dordt’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes graduates whose lives exhibit Christian commitment, a reformational world view, and who have distinguished themselves in an extraordinary fashion.


Morris Blankespoor
Morris Blankespoor, Pella, IA, graduated from Dordt College with a B.A. in English in 1966, and earned his Master’s degree in English Education at Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman University).

Born in Le Mars, he grew up on farms in Sioux and Lyon County, attending Rock Valley Christian Grade School and Western Christian High School.
Blankespoor taught at Oskaloosa Christian School for two years; at Western Christian High School four years, and then taught for 35 years at Pella Christian High School. Since 2005, Blankespoor has served as development coordinator for the new campus project at the school.

“Morry Blankespoor has dedicated his life to the enterprise of Christian education and has given most of his career to Pella Christian High School, where he has served for over 40 years,” wrote Daryl De Ruiter, Pella Christian’s high school principal, in nominating Blankespoor. De Ruiter noted that Morry taught high school English at Pella for 35 years before his retirement in 2005, at which time he was elected to the Pella Community Hall of Fame (for education). Since retiring as a teacher, Morry has served as development coordinator for the school’s $20 million “Upon the Rock Campaign,” a financial endeavor to raise funds for their new campus.

One of Blankespoor’s former students noted, “How do you measure the worth of a teacher? In 40 years how many lives has he touched? All you can measure is the quality with which he taught every day and every year, year after year. All you can see are the students who treasure him and feel blessed to have been taught by him. All you can see is the number of students who were encouraged to develop gifts and talents that he noticed and praised. That is not insignificant, but should be lauded and praised. All the degrees in the world cannot replace the worth of a teacher who sees the worth and quality in each of his students. That is Morris Blankespoor to me.”

VogelzangMark Vogelzang
Mark Vogelzang, Jericho, Vermont, graduated from Dordt College in 1979 with a B.A. in English.

He grew up in Lansing, IL, moved to
Sheldon, IA, in 1969, and graduated from Western Christian High School in 1973.

He is the president and general manager of Vermont Public Radio, an eight-station network based in Burlington, VT. As chief executive of the only NPR station serving the citizens of the region, Vogelzang is responsible for an operation with over 23,000 contributing members and 300 business underwriters.

Vogelzang began his radio career as music director at KDCR in Sioux Center, IA, as program director and on-air personality at WKYU in
Bowling Green, KY, and served as radio manager at WHYY-FM in
Philadelphia, PA. He was selected as Public Radio’s 2002 General
Manager of the Year; served as president of Eastern Public Radio
1997-99, and is currently a member of the National Public Radio Board.

Nominated by his pastor, Peter Anderson, it was noted that Mark and his wife, Rhonda (Huizenga, Class of ’76) have provided several foster children with a home, while raising five children of their own. He volunteers his photography skills at the Jericho Congregational Church, and helps support a Young Life Club.

Professionally, Mark was instrumental in getting the program “Sunday Bach” on Vermont Public Radio, which has been “a wonderful vehicle to bring a Christian witness to public radio listeners.”

Vogelzang has hosted several VPR musical tours to Europe, tracing the life of Bach and including the Passion Play at Oberamagau on one of the tours. “Always gracious, he is able to be a Christian under fire,” concludes Pastor Anderson.

1992: Harvey Blankespoor, Class of 1960, Hope College biology professor and CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) professor of the year.

1993: Valerie (Dykstra) McWilliams, Class of 1979, Directing attorney of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in Champaign, Illinois

1994: Karen Helder, Class of 1974, Director of professional services at Wedgwood Acres Christian Youth Homes in Michigan

1995: Brent Assink, Class of 1977, President of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, formerly general manager of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

1996: Ray Vander Laan, Class of 1973, High school Bible teacher; author of Focus on the Family video series on the Holy Land

1997: Randall Palmer, Class of 1978, Chief political correspondent for Reuters in Canada; previous assignments in Geneva, Switzerland, and Bahrain

1998: Valerie (Haarsma) Green, Class of 1985, Two terms with the English Language Institute, China; one term with CRWRC in Bangladesh

1999: Brian Fikkert, Class of 1986, MA and Ph.D. in economics from Yale; associate professor of economics at Covenant College, Director of the Chalmers Center for Economic Dev.

2000: David Mulder, Class of 1979, Dr. of Osteopathy; at Indian Health Service Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

2001: Judy (Arends) Brueggeman, Class of 1972, Elementary principal, curriculum director at Harris-Lake Park Community School.

2002: Lloyd and Vicki (Veenstra) Vander Kwaak, Class of 1978, CEO Convalescent Home for Children Network (Lloyd); Medical social worker, bereavement coordinator Mercy Hospice; Johnston, IA

2003: Randall Kroll, Class of 1980, President of accounting firm in the Twin Cities; CPA; church and community leader.

2004: Julia Stronks, Class of 1982, Associate professor of history/political & international studies at Whitworth College, Spokane, Wash.

2005: Distinguished Alumni Series suspended for Dordt College’s Jubilee Year

2006: Gregg VandeKieft, Class of 1983, Faculty physician in the Family Medicine Residency Program and the medical director for hospice and palliative care at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington. He is also a clinical associate professor of family medicine at the Univ of Washington

2007: Ida Mutoigo Kaastra, Class of 1982; Director of CRWRC, Canada.

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