“A deep warmth and a spontaneous smile come to me each time I think about this award,” said Dr. Michael Vander Weele ’73, professor of English at Trinity since 1986 and the 2011 Alumnus of the Year. “It is humbling considering the colleagues and students I have been able to work alongside.”
Vander Weele’s connection with Trinity began when his father Ed became a professor of education and dean of students in 1968. Vander Weele enrolled as a student the next year. His sisters and brother attended Trinity as did his late wife Albertena ’74, who served as director of the College’s Cooper Career Center from 2000-2006. Their daughter, Corenna Roozeboom, graduated in 2007.
Vander Weele, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, finds great satisfaction as a professor in watching students discover their “deep joy” as they discover their talents and paths.
Teaching is his calling, but learning nurtures it. Vander Weele said he “loves nothing more than to be a student in the summer.” Summer “vacation” normally finds the professor and perpetual student attending education summits or conducting research. On a research grant this summer, Vander Weele studied Homer, Hesiod, and Rhetorical Aesthetics in the Ancient Mediterranean World, an offshoot of his work last summer at the Seminar on Hesiod and the Homeric Songs.
“It is good to be on the other side of the classroom once in awhile,” he said.
Vander Weele was married in July to Mary McKinstry, a nurse practitioner at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital.
From alumna Allison Backous ’07…
“Dr. Michael Vander Weele is truly one of the best men I have known. Having taken a class with him every semester I was at Trinity, while also serving as his teaching assistant, I came to understand that I was learning from someone whose mind and heart were not only sharp gifts for the kingdom, but true avenues of grace in my life. Dr. Vander Weele talks about Augustine and Marilynne Robinson, Dante and Simone Weil, with an ease that is both brilliant and familiar. He treats writers from across the ages like they are old friends at coffee hour, with a compassionate, endearing curiosity. His love for people, and the ways we read and talk with each other, has shaped me in indescribable ways, and I only hope that my own writing and teaching mirrors his own.”