Skip to main content

H88-0097. Lubbers, Irwin J. (1895-1985). Papers, 1867-2005. 9.50 linear ft.

Identifier: H88-0097

Scope and Contents

The Irwin J. Lubbers collection contains notes from his lectures and sermons. There is family material and photographs, and also a diary that he kept when he was a cadet in the Air Force during WWI. The collection is divided into seven sections which are arranged alphabetically by topic.


  • 1867 - 2005



Irwin Jacob Lubbers was born November 15, 1895, in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin. He attended Wisconsin Memorial Academy, graduating in 1913. After graduation from the Academy, he went on Hope College, receiving his A.B in 1917. During his student years at Hope, he created a scrapbook, which can be found in the collection, containing 98 photo images of student life at the college. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1918, and during this time he kept a journal, which can be found in the collection. From 1919-1922, he worked in the Reformed Church Mission at Vellore, India, teaching at Voorhees College, working in Arcot Central Stores, and editing Indian Temperance News. When he returned to the U.S. in 1922, he entered Teachers College, Columbia University, and earned his master's degree in 1927. He married Margaret Van Donselaar on January 1, 1923. From 1923-1929, he was an instructor at Hope College, lecturing in English. While instructing at Hope, their first son was born, Irwin J. Lubbers, Jr., in 1924. From 1929-1930, he attended Northwestern University, where he undertook research for his thesis on college organization and administration. His research was published as a book in 1932. In 1930, he took the job of Assistant to the President and Instructor in Psychology and Education at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. In 1931, he received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University. That same year, his second son, Arend Don Lubbers, was born. In 1934, he and his family moved to Pella, Iowa, were Dr. Lubbers became president of Central College. Central awarded him a LL.D. in 1945. Dr. Lubbers became president of Hope College in 1945. Hope awarded him a Litt.D. that same year, and he also received a Litt.D. from Rutgers University in 1945. He served as president at Hope College until 1963 when he left to become president of the Iowa Association of Private Colleges and Universities, a post he held until his retirement in 1969.

Irwin Lubbers' presidency of Hope College was a time of significant growth and achievement. Enrollment quickly expanded from 401 in the fall of 1945 to more than 1,200 by the 1947-1948 school year, as Hope enrolled hundreds of returning World War II veterans. After a drop-off in the early 1950s, enrollment again expanded reaching 1,534 by the time Lubbers left office. Campus facilities were greatly expanded to properly serve the current student body and to accommodate projected enrollment demands, including the construction of Durfee, Nykerk, Kollen, Van Zoeren, Phelps, and Gilmore Halls, a heating plant; a fraternity complex (now Scott, Cosmopolitan, Lichty and Wyckoff Halls); and the renovation of Carnegie Gymnasium and Graves Hall. As Lubbers retired from Hope's presidency, construction began on a Physics-Mathematics building (now Vander Werf Hall). Lubbers was very active in fundraising and led several fund drives through the Reformed Church and a major fund drive called "Looking Ahead with Hope."

Lubbers worked to enhance the academic vitality of Hope College and broaden its interaction with other quality colleges. During his presidency, Hope received national recognition as a college of distinction. The Vienna Summer School, a popular program at Hope, was founded in 1956. In 1960, Lubbers helped to form an association of top rank colleges, the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA). Hope College remains a member of this twelve-college consortium. Lubbers' top priority was the Hope College student. Throughout his presidency, he held an "open door policy" and started presidential luncheons, where students could communicate their needs and opinions.

After his retirement, Lubbers remained deeply involved with Hope College. He served as an honorary member of the college's Board of Trustees and was active in several of the college's fundraising endeavors. In 1974, the college’s humanities and social science building was named in Lubbers' honor.

Lubbers authored the book College Organization and Administration (1932), and has contributed to many magazines and was a well-known speaker. His book is available in Hope College's Van Wylen Library, and most of his other writings can be found in the collection.

A number of recognitions have been accorded him. He was granted doctoral degrees by Central College, Hope College and Rutgers University; decorated by the Netherlands government with the rank of "Officer in the Order of Orange Nassau" in 1947; presented with a Freedom Foundation Award in 1953; elected vice -president of the National Council of Churches for the triennium 1960-1963; and elected president of the North Central Association of private Colleges and Secondary Schools for the year 1962-1963. He passed away on September 8, 1985, at the age of 89.


9.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Irwin J. Lubbers collection consists of seven sections: Biographical, Photographic, Early Years, Central College Presidential Years, Hope College Presidential Years, Later Years, and Publications, Speeches, Sermons and Other Writings sections. Detailed Collection Register available.


Irwin J. Lubbers


386 images (Box 1); 99 images (98 in a scrapbook) (Box 6)
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Joint Archives of Holland Repository

Theil Research Center
9 East 10th Street
Holland Michigan 49423 United States