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Van Opynen, Catherine (1915-1979) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Van Opynen, Catherine (1915-1979)


Historical Note:

Catherine Van Opynen was born in Grand Haven, Michigan on August 24, 1915. She graduated from Grand Haven Public High School in 1932 and went off to Calvin College for her undergraduate studies. She graduated from Calvin College with a bachelor's degree in 1938. Van Opynen accepted a teaching position at Southwest Christian School in Grand Rapids. She attended a Teachers College at Columbia University during her summers, earning her first master's degree in 1945.

In 1946 Van Opynen accepted a faculty position in Calvin College's English Department teaching freshman English.  She also taught geography.  Only a year later Van Opynen accepted the position of Dean of Women. She would hold the title until 1967. During her time as Dean of Women she was known as a tireless worker and held a high moral standard. She even earned her second master's degree in education from the University of Michigan in 1957. After she resigned from her Dean of Women position, she was appointed to assist in the Psychology department and Psychological Institute as counselor at Calvin College.

Dean and professor Van Opynen served Calvin College in many capacities. She served on the Religious & Social Committee, Dorm & Dining Hall Committee, and Social & Special Academic Activities Committee to name just a few.  She also a member of the National Association of Deans of Women, Michigan Academy of Arts & Science, and American Association of University Women. Van Opynen was an active member of her church as well. She played the organ and served as a Sunday school teacher for many years at Grand Haven CRC. She was a Bible leader at Eastern Avenue and Seymour CRC.

Due to a lingering illness, Catherine Van Opynen passed away on September 22, 1979.






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