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This Has to Be The Place

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Dr. Tim Hodge, a 1983 Olivet College graduate, was appointed chair of the Olivet College Board of Trustees on Oct. 15, 2021. Hodge is a distinguished emergency medicine physician and U.S. Navy veteran whose commitment to Olivet College has remained strong. He has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for 20 years and has been a consistent annual contributor. Hodge’s fond memories of his years spent at Olivet and devotion to the College’s mission have influenced family members and many others to attend his beloved college.

Preparing for Something Bigger

Hodge was like many first-year students coming to Olivet College with a dream of preparing for something much bigger. He always wanted to be a physician but wasn’t sure how to make it a reality. Hodge and his nine siblings grew up in Bangor, Michigan. His family relocated from Detroit when he was a very young age. Hodge thought he wasn’t ready for a large university when he graduated from high school. “I wanted an institution that prepared me for medical school, that would allow me to continue participating in athletics and a place where I could have tremendous fun. After spending the weekend with a friend at Olivet College, I liked what I saw. I thought, ‘This has to be the place,’” said Hodge.

In 1979, Hodge began classes at Olivet College. He planned to spend two years at the College to get a solid academic foundation, learn the social expectations of college and then transfer to a larger university that would further prepare him for medical school. That all changed when he met Dr. Fred Gruen, Hodge’s chemistry professor.

We’ve Got You

If he was going to make it to medical school, Hodge knew he had to chart his course and make the most of his anticipated two years at Olivet College. Sitting in on one of Dr. Gruen’s organic chemistry classes made Hodge realize that he would have to ask for help outside of the classroom for his dream to come true.

“Dr. Gruen would be talking quickly while writing formulas equally as fast on the board, and at times, the sheer volume of the material felt overwhelming. Not wanting to miss anything important, I asked him to explain several key points from the previous lesson. He and his wife, Marian Gruen, lived in Olivet, so they invited me to their home to review lessons. I recall sitting at a small table in the kitchen while Dr. Gruen tutored me and Marian served fresh baked goods,” Hodge said. These visits became continuous open invitations for Hodge. “Dr. Gruen was always there with an encouraging word, a gift of a recent book he had read and enjoyed, and meaningful discussions on academics and life.”

“During one of my visits with Dr. Gruen, I told him I was going to transfer to another school so I could prepare for medical school. He looked at me and asked, ‘Why would you want to do that? We can prepare you; we’ve got you,’” Hodge recalled.

True to their word, Dr. Gruen and other professors at Olivet College did come through for him. When Hodge needed a course in human physiology as a senior and it wasn’t scheduled, Dr. Richard Fleming stepped in to help. He offered to be the sponsoring professor for an independent study in human physiology. The two outlined a new course and met every week to discuss that week’s material. Dr. Fleming also allowed Hodge to write the test questions for the course based on learning objectives. Each answer was then discussed in-depth to assure understanding of human physiology principles. “Knowing I had to be prepared for our comprehensive discussions, I mastered the subject in a very different way than if I had been in the traditional classroom situation. So well, that I tested out of the human physiology course at medical school,” Hodge said.

Hodge graduated with degrees in biochemistry and biology from Olivet College. Then, he went to medical school at a larger university and achieved his dream of becoming a physician.

Preparing for Life, Not Just for Testing

One of Hodge’s priorities as the new chair of the Olivet College Board of Trustees is to lead the board in its work to meet the strategic outcomes of “Olivet College 2030: Vision for a Prosperous Future.” Growth, quality and value are at the heart of the strategic plan, which Hodge believes will lead Olivet College to a more secure future.

“Olivet College has to continue to grow. We need to design programs that meet students where they are in the world and support them. We need to retain and grow quality faculty and staff who focus on the whole student — the social, emotional, mental and physical development of each student regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. We must prepare students for life — not just for testing,” Hodge said. “We must also create value for the students. I learned critical thinking and how to examine problems from multiple perspectives. In addition, my parents’ lessons of working hard, being of service to others and showing love of humanity were reinforced during my time as a student. These lessons lead me every day, even now,” Hodge said.

This feature was included in the winter 2022 issue of Shipherd’s Record and The President’s Annual Report, Olivet College’s alumni magazine. This special issue introduces the College’s new strategic plan, “Olivet College 2030: Vision for a Prosperous Future.” Sections also include updates from the Offices of Advancement and Alumni Engagement, Comet Sports, a 2021 Year in Review, Financials, Class Notes, Feature Stories, a Homecoming Recap and much more. View the full magazine here.

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