Background Image

Hope College December 2013 : Page 18

Staff Profile Labor By Eva Dean ’83 Folkert of Love with love and loyalty. It’s been an association and affection that has been as deep as it has been long. To know the Hope story is to know the Tom Renner story for he has been the author of both. For 47 years. With his retirement this month from the college, Renner — who has been the chief purveyor of all things newsworthy about Hope — completes a career in the news and public relations industries that has spanned the news print to Internet eras, typewriter to laptop, Kodachrome to digital. He was hired in March, 1967 — away from his job as the managing editor of the South Haven, Mich., daily newspaper — by President Calvin VanderWerf ’37 to be the first director of the college news bureau when the concept of reporting, publishing, and promoting college happenings for broader audiences was just emerging. He departs under President John Knapp, the college’s first president to “tweet” on Twitter, when the reality of the college’s presence in everything from national publications to social networks is a foregone conclusion. To say that Renner has seen it all at Hope is both a truism and an understatement. “What has distinguished Tom in his work at Hope is his omnipresence,” say David Vanderwel ’67, a longtime colleague as a former associate dean of students and the current vice president for college advancement. “I dare say he is the most recognizable and best known of anyone at Hope, even our presidents, because of all that he has been involved with. No one will ever have the depth of commitment or the personal investment in the college again. He truly is one of a kind.” “Hope College has been my passion, my calling,” Renner confides. “Every day has been a fond memory. I have had great fun and great satisfaction during my time here working and watching Hope emerge from a single-focus, Hired in 1967 to be the first director of the college’s newly established news bureau, Tom renner ’67, associate vice president of public and community relations, retires this month having dedicated nearly five decades to the college as a labor of love. One of Hope’s longest-serving staff members, he has worked with five presidents. He is shown in F or 47 years, his two thick index fingers have pecked and scurried across a typewriter and computer keyboard to tap out Hope College news with the quickness and accuracy that would impress any courtroom stenographer. For 47 years, his strong, long legs have covered Hope’s campus with a Paul Bunyan-esque stride. For 47 years, his knowing eyes have seen and captured stunning and poignant images of Hope students, athletes, faculty, presidents, and events through a wide-angle and close-up Nikon lens, a Hope baseball cap often reversed atop his head. For 47 years, his heart has felt and his mind has known the pulse of Hope. For 47 years, with his entire being, Tom Renner ’67, associate vice president of public and community relations, has told the Hope story Across his 47 years at Hope, Tom renner ’67 has shared the Hope story not only in words but in photographs, shooting more than 500,000 images featuring the people, places and events of Hope. church-affiliated, regional school to an institution with a high academic reputation on a national level. It has just been an unbelievable journey.” It would be easy and natural to recount Renner’s Hope experience strictly in numerical measures. Having been the college’s first sports information director (SID) for 46 years and the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) league publicist for 40 years, the statistical junkie and Chicago Cubs baseball fan in him appreciates what numbers can reveal about a story and even a person. So, for this person’s story, the numbers tell that Renner has worked under five Hope presidents over one third of the college’s history; managed the publication of 219 issues of this magazine, News from Hope College ; watched over 1,001 Hope-Calvin games in all 20 of Hope’s sports; witnessed the graduation of 24,862 Hope alumni; snapped the shutter on over 500,000 Hope images, and driven over 2,000,000 miles to and from campus on his daily commute from his hometown of South Haven and on behalf of Hope. Yet, while objective measures can be telling, it is subjective narratives that further expose the true essence of a person’s life story. For Renner — a man who prefers to push others into the limelight rather than receive attention, a man who squirms a bit when a reporter asks him to talk about himself to unveil the wizard behind the curtain — disclosing personal accolades and accounts is a bit unsettling to him. But with a life rich in content and character, the Renner saga is 18 News News From From Hope Hope College College

Labor of Love

Eva Dean

<br /> For 47 years, his two thick index fingers have pecked and scurried across a typewriter and computer keyboard to tap out Hope College news with the quickness and accuracy that would impress any courtroom stenographer.<br /> <br /> For 47 years, his strong, long legs have covered Hope’s campus with a Paul Bunyan-esque stride.<br /> <br /> For 47 years, his knowing eyes have seen and captured stunning and poignant images of Hope students, athletes, faculty, presidents, and events through a wide-angle and close-up Nikon lens, a Hope baseball cap often reversed atop his head.<br /> <br /> For 47 years, his heart has felt and his mind has known the pulse of Hope.<br /> <br /> For 47 years, with his entire being, Tom Renner ’67, associate vice president of public and community relations, has told the Hope story with love and loyalty. It’s been an association and affection that has been as deep as it has been long. To know the Hope story is to know the Tom Renner story for he has been the author of both.<br /> <br /> For 47 years.<br /> <br /> With his retirement this month from the college, Renner — who has been the chief purveyor of all things newsworthy about Hope — completes a career in the news and public relations industries that has spanned the news print to Internet eras, typewriter to laptop, Kodachrome to digital. He was hired in March, 1967 — away from his job as the managing editor of the South Haven, Mich., daily newspaper — by President Calvin VanderWerf ’37 to be the first director of the college news bureau when the concept of reporting, publishing, and promoting college happenings for broader audiences was just emerging. He departs under President John Knapp, the college’s first president to “tweet” on Twitter, when the reality of the college’s presence in everything from national publications to social networks is a foregone conclusion.<br /> <br /> To say that Renner has seen it all at Hope is both a truism and an understatement.<br /> <br /> “What has distinguished Tom in his work at Hope is his omnipresence,” say David Vanderwel ’67, a longtime colleague as a former associate dean of students and the current vice president for college advancement. “I dare say he is the most recognizable and best known of anyone at Hope, even our presidents, because of all that he has been involved with. No one will ever have the depth of commitment or the personal investment in the college again. He truly is one of a kind.”<br /> <br /> “Hope College has been my passion, my calling,” Renner confides. “Every day has been a fond memory. I have had great fun and great satisfaction during my time here working and watching Hope emerge from a single-focus, church-affiliated, regional school to an institution with a high academic reputation on a national level. It has just been an unbelievable journey.”<br /> <br /> It would be easy and natural to recount Renner’s Hope experience strictly in numerical measures. Having been the college’s first sports information director (SID) for 46 years and the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) league publicist for 40 years, the statistical junkie and Chicago Cubs baseball fan in him appreciates what numbers can reveal about a story and even a person.<br /> <br /> So, for this person’s story, the numbers tell that Renner has worked under five Hope presidents over one third of the college’s history; managed the publication of 219 issues of this magazine, News from Hope College; watched over 1,001 Hope-Calvin games in all 20 of Hope’s sports; witnessed the graduation of 24,862 Hope alumni; snapped the shutter on over 500,000 Hope images, and driven over 2,000,000 miles to and from campus on his daily commute from his hometown of South Haven and on behalf of Hope.<br /> <br /> Yet, while objective measures can be telling, it is subjective narratives that further expose the true essence of a person’s life story. For Renner — a man who prefers to push others into the limelight rather than receive attention, a man who squirms a bit when a reporter asks him to talk about himself to unveil the wizard behind the curtain — disclosing personal accolades and accounts is a bit unsettling to him. But with a life rich in content and character, the Renner saga is one for permanent binding. Here then are just a few highlights of his legend of dedication:<br /> • The son of a newspaper publisher and volunteer firefighter, Renner followed his father into both businesses, and his 25 years as a volunteer firefighter for South Haven came in handy when Van Vleck Hall caught fire in 1980. With the flames spewing from the building’s top floor, Renner hustled to the roof to help Holland firefighters contain the blaze. “I ruined my suit” is as much personal description as he’ll divulge about his efforts that day.<br /> • In 1990, when the Hope women’s basketball team won the national championship in nerve-wrecking dramatic fashion, a teary-eyed Renner broke down with joy in the back corridor of the Civic Center before conducting the final press conference. “I’ve been waiting 23 years for this,” was all he said at the time.<br /> • His numerous honors and awards are both local and national in nature. He’s been honored multiple times by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) as well as by the MIAA with the naming of the Renner Sports Information Associate Award in 2008, given to honor the conference’s best student in sports information annually. At Hope, he’s received the Alumni Association’s Meritorious Service Award in 2012, and in 2013, the college’s Vanderbush-Weller Award was given to him for his strong, positive impact on students. “All just signs I’ve been around a long time,” he humbly concedes.<br /> <br /> And others have stuck around a long time with him too. The infectious nature of his dedication to Hope has rubbed off on his current staff of five as well. With 75 years of combined service between them, they more than most know the full force of Renner’s hard work and staying power.<br /> <br /> “Everything that Tom does, he does because he believes it is best for the college or the people involved,” says Lynne Powe ’86, associate director of public and community relations, a 21-year colleague with Renner. “He works harder and puts in more hours than anyone I know. His enthusiasm for Hope and his dedication are contagious.”<br /> <br /> “Each day, each season, each year has been new and special,” Renner says. “It comes down to people of faith having good faith in each other. I have been surrounded by wonderful people — presidents, student interns, my current staff who have hung in there with me for a long time — and they all love Hope as much as I do. And, this job has allowed me to involve my family, all of my family, in my work. That’s not just possible in most places.”<br /> <br /> Renner’s wife, Carole DeYoung ’67, has been a support and stay at many Hope events with her husband for all of those 47 years too. All four Renner children — Deb, Susie, Daniel, and ReBecca — attended Hope and worked on his student staff in public relations. But then again, if you were a Renner, you were working for your dad as soon as you could say “shooting percentage.”<br /> <br /> “No Renner kid was allowed to pick up the phone at home in the early days without knowing how to take down stats if a coach called in,” Carole laughs. “If they could talk and write, then they could answer and help!”<br /> <br /> Now after 47 years, Renner will hang up his official Hope duties but not his official Hope allegiance. Though he’ll begin to write the third installment of Hope’s athletic history and secure photo digital assets for the Hope archives, he knows he’ll be out of rhythm without the daily commute, without the 24/7 responsibilities.<br /> <br /> After 47 years, he’ll travel more, read more non-fiction books, and surf the multitude of news apps on his iPad more.<br /> <br /> After 47 years, he’ll spend more time with his entire close-knit family, including his nine grandchildren.<br /> <br /> After 47 years, the Hope family may be without a Renner but the Renner family could never be without Hope. The two may let go but they’ll never separate.<br /> <br /> After 47 years.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here