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Donald Oppewal (1926-) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Donald Oppewal (1926-)

Historical Note:

Donald Oppewal was born in Massachusetts in 1926.  He attended Calvin College majoring in English and minoring in philosophy. He graduated from Calvin with a B.A. in 1950 and went on to earn his Master’s degree in English and history at the University of Michigan. Oppewal pursed a career in education, beginning as an English teacher at Illiana Christian High School in Lansing, Illinois. After five years, Oppewal went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois with a focus on philosophy of education.  In 1960, Oppewal returned to Calvin College, not as a student, but as a professor. 

During his time at Calvin College, he served on the college’s Teacher Education Committee, Continuing Education Committee, and Graduate Studies Committee. Oppewal also played a major role in establishing the Christian Educators Journal and served as the managing editor, book review editor, and even occasionally wrote for the journal himself. Oppewal also concerned himself with the role of religion in public schools and textbooks. Oppewal also authored the notable book Society, State, and School (1965). He even assembled the Religion and Education conference in 1987. 

In 1991, Oppewal reached emeritus status and retired from active teaching.  He has been married to his wife, Jessica (Leestma), since 1948. Together they had six children.

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