Oct 18, 2023

Remembering Dr. Steve Holtrop: Dordt mourns the loss of a visionary education professor

Dr. Steve Holtrop, professor of education and former director of graduate studies at Dordt University, passed away from cancer on October 14. He was 64 years old.

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Dr. Steve Holtrop, professor of education and former director of graduate studies at Dordt University, passed away from cancer on October 14. He was 64 years old.

“As a campus community, we are saddened to hear about the passing of Dr. Steve Holtrop even as we simultaneously trust that Steve is now experiencing joy that is more than we can ask or imagine,” says Dr. Erik Hoekstra, president of Dordt. “Steve was always enthusiastic and innovative when it came to his work—both in the education department and within Dordt’s graduate programs. We are grateful for the ways he shaped our institution and are in prayer for his family as they mourn, remember, and celebrate a life lived for the King.”

Dr. Holtrop served at Dordt from 2014 until 2023. As director of graduate studies, Holtrop helped Dordt launch the Master of Public Administration, Master of Social Work, and Master of Special Education programs. Holtrop oversaw advising for more than 200 Master of Education (M.Ed.) students each year, and he ensured quality instruction for more than 50 M.Ed. courses.

“Dr. Holtrop loved his students; this came through so clearly every time he talked about what he was working on in class,” says Dr. David Mulder, chair of the education department. “Most of his teaching was online with graduate students, and while he was physically distant from his students, he was very good at building a close, caring community with them.”

“Steve was well known for his love for dreaming of new programs and possibilities – ‘blue ocean thinking,’ as he often said – and he took great joy in working with students and colleagues,” says Dr. Leah Zuidema, vice president for academic affairs.

Joe Bakker, dean for online, graduate, and partner programs, remembers how Holtrop would gather colleagues together to brainstorm new ideas and to think about what Dordt might do next.

“I appreciated Steve’s passion for fulfilling the mission of Dordt University through graduate programs that serve working adults by equipping them to bring Christ-centered renewal into their professions,” says Bakker.

Holtrop earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Calvin University. He went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in English and journalism education as well as a Ph.D. in English education from the University of Iowa.

Mulder says that Holtrop was a dreamer who always challenged the education department to expand their vision of what was possible.

“Under his leadership of our M.Ed. program, we started six new tracks (from reading, to educational technology, to instructional coaching, and more), and the number of graduate students expanded greatly,” he adds. “When I think about how many hundreds of Pre-K-12 students are being served by those teachers who have earned master’s degrees from Dordt, it’s pretty astounding to think of the Kingdom impact. Steve’s imaginative leadership was a blessing for us as his colleagues, but the influence is felt in schools across North America, and around the globe!”

“We extend our condolences to Steve’s wife Sharon Bouma, his children, and his extended family, as well as to the faculty, staff, and students who got to know Steve as a colleague, friend, and brother in Christ over the years,” says Zuidema.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.

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