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Au Sable Names New Executive Director

Aug 05, 2011

With thanksgiving to God, the Au Sable Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Fred G. Van Dyke as the Institute's new Executive Director, effective September 1, 2011. Van Dyke is currently Professor of Biology, Chair of the Department of Biology and Director of the Environmental Studies Program of Wheaton College (Illinois).

The appointment is the culmination of an intensive search effort over the past year as the Institute's Search Committee, chaired by Dr. Orin Gelderloos, solicited and received numerous recommendations and nominations from a roster of qualified individuals. After a process of thorough review and evaluation, the Committee made its recommendation to the full Board of Trustees at its August 2011 meeting in Mancelona, Michigan. Van Dyke's appointment was unanimously approved.

With the naming of a new Executive Director, the Institute also acknowledged the leadership of Dr. Martin Price, former CEO of Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) in Fort Myers, Florida, who served during the past 12 months as the interim Executive Director of ASI.

In commenting about Van Dyke's new role, Price said, "I was  honored to be called upon to serve for one year to give Au Sable time to make a careful national search and elect a long-term Executive Director. I leave feeling very good about the progress Au Sable has made in recent years and share everyone's excitement with Dr. Van Dyke's appointment."

Van Dyke has had a long association with Au Sable, dating back to 1984 when he taught the Natural Resources Practicum in each of the two summer sessions. He also taught the May Term Natural History course from 1986 to 1999, and has served since 1992 as a Faculty Representative to Au Sable, from both Northwestern College (1992 - 2001) and Wheaton College (2001-2011); in addition, he has been a contributor at past Au Sable forums and conferences. Van Dyke also developed a special Au Sable internship in wildlife ecology in Montana, which he taught from 1988-1991 with the cooperation and support of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the US Forest Service.  As a member of the Au Sable Board of Trustees since 2009, he has served as its Faculty Representative, Treasurer (2009-2010), and, most recently, as Chair since November 2010.

"Fred brings unique gifts to Au Sable: strong academic training and performance, success at initiating a college environmental science major, an impressive record of scholarly publications, and finally, a long-term personal commitment to Au Sable's mission of training leaders in the area of Christian environmental stewardship,"  said Dr. David Mahan, associate director of Au Sable.

A graduate in wildlife management with a B.S. degree from the University of Idaho, Van Dyke earned an M.S. in wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and a Ph.D. in environmental and forest biology from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York-Syracuse. His career has included work in academia, government conservation agencies, and private environmental consulting. He served as a wildlife biologist for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, a scientific and management consultant to the National Park Service, an ex officio member of numerous interdisciplinary management teams of the U. S. Forest Service, and a consultant to private industry in studies of the responses of wildlife to energy development.

While serving on the faculty of Northwestern College (Iowa) and later at Wheaton College (Illinois), Van Dyke established programs in Environmental Studies that have trained hundreds of students now serving in environmental agencies or organizations or pursuing advanced degrees in environmental conservation. His former students have found work in agencies and organizations such as the EPA, the National Park Service, US Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and The Nature Conservancy among many others.

"There are few people from whom I have learned as much and have as much confidence in as Dr. Fred Van Dyke," said Board member and former Wheaton student Ben Lowe. "As a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ in all areas of life, Fred brings a grounded vision and strong leadership to bear on Au Sable's mission, along with the wisdom, integrity, and skills to continue implementing it. Fred is the right person to lead the Institute forward, and I am greatly encouraged by his appointment as our Executive Director."

As a scientist, Van Dyke has specialized in investigations of wildlife ecology that address animal home range and habitat requirements, characteristics of community biodiversity, and the response of plant and animal communities to disturbance, especially fire and energy development. His studies have been published in numerous scientific journals and his textbook, Conservation Biology: Foundations, Concepts, Applications has been and continues to be used worldwide in college and university courses.

"Dr. Fred Van Dyke is a multi-talented professional educator. His expertise in environmental science together with his vibrant Christian faith and his passion for excellence make him a superb choice for this important leadership position. I am confident that his appointment will be both strategic and positively transformational for the future of the Au Sable Institute," said Dr. James E. Bultman, President of Hope College in Holland, Michigan and former President of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.

Long known for his contributions toward a Christian ethical and theological understanding of the purposes and applications of environmental conservation, his work in this field has been published in such journals and magazines as Conservation Biology, Science and Engineering Ethics, Christianity Today, The Evangelical Review of Theology, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Trinity Journal, and Crossroads Monograph Series on Faith and Public Policy. Van Dyke is the senior author of the book Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stewardship (InterVarsity Press 1996), as well as the author of Between Heaven and Earth: The History and Practice of Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition (Praeger Publishers 2010).

Van Dyke is a past recipient of The Henry Luce Scholarship Award from Evangelicals for Social Action in recognition of his contributions toward extending applications of Christian environmental stewardship to public environmental policy and Christian higher education, and has served as a consultant to the Global Stewardship Initiative program of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for Christian Studies, assisting in the development of curricula in environmental stewardship at private colleges and universities.

Regarding the opportunity to relocate to the Mancelona area, Van Dyke says, "The Great Lakes campus of Au Sable is my favorite place in all the world, and the one where I always feel very much at home. Something happens to you when you learn the whole story of a place in understanding its physical landscape, its ecology, and its human cultural history. I'm forever grateful that Au Sable taught me how to know and love these things." Van Dyke and his wife, Linda, look forward to making the move to northern Michigan and finding a home near the Institute.