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A Lifetime Legacy of Service and Leadership at Au Sable

Sep 10, 2012

As of June 30, 2012, Dr. Orin Gelderloos, then Chair and long-time member of the Au Sable Board of Trustees, completed his tenure and officially stepped down from the Au Sable Board.

Stated Gelderloos, “It has been an honor to have been associated with an organization that provides academic leadership for students and associated colleges and universities in understanding of and service to the stewardship of God’s Creation.”

Dr. Gelderloos, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Michigan – Dearborn and director of its Environmental Interpretive Center and Natural Areas, made the decision to step down from the board after receiving a full year sabbatical from UM – Dearborn for the purpose of completing an ongoing study of the floodplain ecology and environmental history of the Rouge River in southeastern Michigan.  In order to give appropriate and deserved attention to the goals of his sabbatical effort, Dr. Gelderloos decided to resign from the Board because, as he noted, “Synthesizing and publishing these results [about the Rogue River] will require considerable focus and effort.”

His association with Au Sable Institute began in 1979 when asked to consult with the staff and Board as it was transforming into a more comprehensive environmental Institute.  From that time until the present, his service and leadership to the Au Sable Board of Trustees spanned parts of five decades. Along with his many years of service on and leadership of the Au Sable Board, Orin also was instrumental in developing Au Sable’s relationship with India’s Bishop Heber College, and for many years taught Au Sable’s January Course, Ecology of the Indian Tropics, in Tiruchirappelli, Tamil Nadu, South India.

An avid and widely respected ornithologist, Orin has conducted research on bird orientation, migration, and navigation at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Bavaria, Germany, and elsewhere. He has also studied urban ecology at the Center for Human Ecology in the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.  He has been the recipient of many grants from the National Science Foundation as well as from the Environmental Protection Agency for the environmental studies education of teachers from the Detroit metropolitan area. In 2010, the Detroit Free Press recognized Orin as one of its select group of Green Leaders of Michigan for his lifelong effort and effectiveness in making Michigan a better, more environmentally healthy place to live. He is a past recipient of UM Dearborn’s Faculty of the Year Award (2003), the Governor’s Service Award for Service-Learning Educator of the Year in the State of Michigan (2000), and the Detroit  Audubon Society’s Conservationist of the Year Award (1998).

Orin received his undergraduate education from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI, which guided him throughout his graduate studies at Western Michigan University (M.S.) and Northwestern University (Ph.D) as well as throughout his long and distinguished teaching career.   As part of his Christian witness, Orin has served and continues to serve on many community boards and organizations and narrates eye-opening bus and boat tours of the environmental and historical issues in Southeast Michigan to his students and community organizations.   

The Au Sable Board will be forever grateful for his long association with, service toward, and leadership of the Au Sable Institute. In that spirit, the Board of Trustees officially recognized Orin and his contribution with a resolution at their August 2012 Board Meeting, stating that, The Board of Trustees of Au Sable Institute hereby extends its gratitude to, and recognizes the important contributions of, Dr. Orin Gelderloos, for his years of exceptional service to Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, as a blessing to students, faculty, staff and fellow trustees. May the Lord continue to be his strength, wisdom and refuge, and grant him peace and mercy all the days of his life.”

Current Board Chairman Ben Lowe stated, "I'm deeply grateful for Orin's faithful leadership and tireless ministry at Au Sable through the decades.  While we are sad to see Orin leave our board, we rejoice in his legacy of loyal service among us, and wish him God's best moving forward!" 

Orin’s interaction with, guidance toward and concern for the Au Sable Staff have also been greatly appreciated and will be deeply missed. Current Associate Director Dr. David Mahan, who has served with the Institute since 1985, wrote recently, “I have always felt gratitude to Orin because he was unwavering in his support of all aspects of the academic program … and, he was someone who practiced the principles of Christian environmental stewardship in his own personal life and occupation.”

Founding Board Member Bert Froysland affirmed these feelings, saying, “I am forever grateful to Orin for his contribution not only to Au Sable and its mission but also to the cause of creation care in his personal and professional life as well. He always modeled his love of the Lord and of God’s creation.”

For his part, Orin wrote regarding his work with Au Sable, “The Institute has been a significant and formative part of my life for several decades.  Its mission coincides with my personal calling and commitment to teach the grandeur and the intricacies of God’s creation.  The colleagues on the Board, the staff, and students whom I have met through the Institute have greatly inspired me and I will always carry their insights and wisdom with me. I wish you and each of the members of the Board and administration blessings and guidance by the Holy Spirit as you extend the gospel of the Creation to many more students.”

Orin’s love for the Au Sable Institute, its work and all the people who comprise its community will be missed even more than his extensive knowledge of and skills in managing environmental systems, as well as his wisdom in leading the Board on many occasions in both good times and bad. The Board, the Staff and the Community of the Au Sable Institute join in sincere recognition to honor the life and service of Orin Gelderloos to Au Sable.