Dr. Shirley Hoogstra, Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa
A visionary leader who is passionate about Christian higher education and the role it plays in the common good, Shirley V. Hoogstra became the seventh president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities in September 2014.
In this role, Hoogstra combines her zeal for the rule of law and her passion for Christian higher education as she promotes the value and purpose of high quality, Christ-centered liberal arts education that shapes the heart, soul and mind.
Prior to the CCCU, Hoogstra served for 15 years as vice president for student life at her alma mater, Calvin College. She also spent more than a decade practicing law as a partner at a firm specializing in litigation in New Haven, Connecticut. She has served on the boards of several community organizations and schools, including the New Haven County Bar Association and Calvin College. She earned a bachelor’s in education at Calvin and a Juris Doctor, with honors, from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Hoogstra and her husband, Jeff, are the parents of two married children, Dave and Mary.
Dr. Robert Israel Lappin, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa
Born in 1922, a native of Salem, Massachusetts and a graduate of Dartmouth College, Robert Israel Lappin served as an officer in the United States Navy during World War II, participating in battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After the war, Mr. Lappin was in the small appliance manufacturing business for 25 years as president of the Shetland Company, which employed 1,100 people at the time of its sale in 1968.
In 1982, when Mr. Lappin sponsored a mission of evangelical pastors to Israel and Lebanon, he became a friend of Marvin Wilson. Since that time, Mr. Lappin has been a friend and supporter of Gordon College.
Mr. Lappin began acquiring and managing real estate in 1947. His portfolio of over 10 million square-feet of industrial space was sold in 1986 and 1987, except for Shetland Park, a waterfront industrial complex in Salem, which he continues to own and manage. Mr. Lappin is president of the Lappin Foundation, which funds Jewish living and learning programs and interfaith outreach programs, all free of charge.
In December 2009, he was named one of the Boston Globe’s “Bostonians of the Year” for his actions in restoring his employee’s retirement assets, which were wiped out by the Madoff fraud. The following year Mr. Lappin was named by Reader’s Digest as the “Best Anti-Ponzi Scheme” in its annual list of our country’s best people, places and things.
An avid chess player, fitness enthusiast, and deeply devoted Jew, Mr. Lappin resides in Swampscott, Massachusetts and Palm Beach, Florida. He and his wife, Marion, have three children and six grandchildren.
Dr. Donald K. Stephens, Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa
A native Texan, Donald K. Stephens is the founder and president of Mercy Ships, a global, faith-based organization bringing hope and healing to the world’s poor using state-of-the-art hospital ships to provide free, lifesaving surgeries for people where medical care is inaccessible. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has delivered medical care in 55 developing nations, providing services valued at more than $1.3 billion and treating more than 2.5 million people. As president, Mr. Stephens continues to inspire a workforce of over 1,000 professional volunteers from 45 nations with offices in 16 nations.
Three events in his life inspired him to start Mercy Ships. The first, in 1964, was the human suffering he witnessed following a hurricane. The second was the birth of his profoundly disabled son, John Paul. The third was a brief encounter with Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
His honors and awards include the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal nomination (2016); the Points of Light Award (2014); the Variety Club International Humanitarian of the Year (2009); the Commanders of the Republic Award, Republic of Benin (2009); and, from Food for the Hungry, the Two Hungers Award (1989).
Mr. Stephens is the author of three books: Ships of Mercy (Thomas Nelson, 2005), Mandate for Mercy (YWAM, 1995) and Trial by Trial (Harvest House, 1985).
He and his wife, Deyon, have four grown children and five grandchildren.