Dordt College News

Dordt College Announces New President

April 23, 2012

Dordt College Provost Dr. Erik Hoekstra has been named the fourth president of Dordt College. Dr. Hoekstra’s appointment was announced to the campus community today after the Dordt College Board of Trustees endorsed the Presidential Search Committee’s unanimous recommendation.

“Dr. Hoekstra is very passionate about the college and has a deep–hearted commitment to what Dordt is all about,” said Dordt College Board of Trustees Chair Lloyd Vander Kwaak.

Vander Kwaak said the Presidential Search Committee, made of Trustees and college faculty/staff, balanced many factors as it examined candidates. The Board was keenly interested in ensuring that a new president would help Dordt College sustain its strengths in several areas: maintaining a vibrant mission; providing strong leadership; cultivating excellent, mission–oriented faculty members; and overseeing the college’s ongoing financial stability.

“Under Dr. Carl Zylstra’s leadership, Dordt is in a wonderful place now,” Dr. Hoekstra says. “The core of our educational mission will always be to glorify God as a distinctively Christian, operationally excellent college that attracts quality faculty members, eager students, and enthusiastic supporters.”

While a commitment to Dordt’s historical roots and an understanding of current strengths was important, the board was also looking for innovation. Vander Kwaak noted, “Dr. Hoekstra’s track record of leading organizations with a blend of excellence and creativity–in both education and business–made him a compelling choice.”

The Search Committee, aided by a professional search firm, led listening sessions and surveys of the college’s constituency groups, and, from the comments and ideas, a leadership profile emerged.

In a letter to the Board of Trustees unanimously recommending Dr. Hoekstra for president, Search Committee Chair Randy Kroll wrote, “In the final deliberations, the committee concluded that Dr. Hoekstra’s well–developed and deep passion for the college’s vision and mission, his effective and engaging leadership record at the college in both teaching and academic administration, his knowledge of the college’s positions, strengths, and challenges, and his personal faith and mature understanding of spiritual leadership put him in the best position to lead as the fourth president of Dordt College.”

Dr. Hoekstra is excited to take on a new leadership role, and he says that seeing firsthand the challenges, joys, and responsibilities of serving in such a role has helped prepare him for it.

“It is exciting for me to serve at a Christian college that has an equal passion for programs in Agriculture and English,” Dr. Hoekstra said. “It is good that we encourage some students to consider graduate school and that we prepare them well, but it is equally good that we do not put such a calling ‘above’ others for our graduates. We are called to work toward Christ–centered renewal in every sphere of God’s creation.” (See Dr. Hoekstra's faith statement.)

As provost for the past four years, Dr. Hoekstra has overseen the reshaping of the academic structure of the college. In addition, Hoekstra chaired the Enrollment Management Team and worked closely with the advancement office and president on the recent Beyond Jubilee: Vision 2020 Campaign.

In Dr. Hoekstra’s time as provost, programs in nursing, engineering, and agriculture have grown substantially, and new programs in worship arts, construction management, and actuarial science have begun. Dordt athletic programs have grown in size and quality, as have international programs and international student enrollment. Dr. Hoekstra played a key partnership role with Student Services to design and build Kuyper Apartments, an award–winning student residence hall opened in 2010.

Search Committee member and senior engineering major Mark Van Weelden says Hoekstra is both intense and approachable as an administrator. “He’s visible on campus, and he’ll say hi when he sees you in the Commons,” he said. “He has a genuine passion for Dordt’s mission—just being around him calls you to action and brings out the best in you. He loves this community, and along with his leadership skills, that gives us confidence.”

Dr. Hoekstra holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history and philosophy from Trinity Christian College, a Master’s Degree in international management from The Rotterdam School of Management of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and a Ph.D. in organizational learning and human resource development from Iowa State University. He has served in senior leadership roles in two different organizations in two different states. (See his full CV.)

Dr. Hoekstra is passionate about bringing joy and meaning to places of work, saying that good leadership is “about creating an environment where those who are being led are being served.”

Comparing his experience as a student and board member at other Christian colleges, Hoekstra says Dordt is unique. “The size and the climate of the campus in which we can know each other well is a wonderful expression of Christian community,” Hoekstra says.

Dr. Hoekstra has co–authored several publications on coaching, delegation, servant leadership, and change management, and his professional background includes roles in leadership development, executive coaching, organizational consulting, industrial construction, wholesale distribution and retail management, as well as teaching business courses at Dordt College.

Dr. Hoekstra is married to Dr. Barb Hoekstra, an education professor at Dordt College with a Bachelor’s degree from Trinity, a Master’s from Western Michigan University, and an Ed.D. from the University of South Dakota. Their family is a blend of biological and adopted children and includes: Arie, 16; Max, 15, Karl, 15; and Zoe, 12.

Dr. Erik Hoekstra will succeed Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, the third president of Dordt College. Associated with the Christian Reformed Church, Dordt College welcomes all students who are interested in an academically excellent, Christ–centered education. Dordt College is recognized annually for being one of the best colleges in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report,, the Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly.

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