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Dutch immigrant son named Iowa Professor of the Year

Excels in teaching Spanish

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – A Dutch Canadian who teaches Spanish at a private college has been named Iowa Professor of the Year. Piet J. Koene and 51 colleagues recently received the award from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement and Support for Education. The winners were drawn from a list of 400 undergraduate professors.

A son of Dutch immigrants, Koene grew up in Bowmanville, Ontario and first came in contact with Hispanics when as a high school student he visited his sister Jacoba doing volunteer mission work in Honduras. Koene’s undergraduate and graduate studies focused on Latin American subjects. Before settling in Orange City, where he lectures at Northwestern College, Koene and his wife Rosa farmed in Honduras for a number of years.

Originally hired mid-term in January 2000 to fill an unexpected vacancy at the college, Koene last year was presented the Northwestern Teaching Excellence Award. His department has seen a steep increase in the number of Spanish majors. Koene who is married to Rosa, a Honduran, also is active in the area’s Hispanic community. Koene’s sister Jacoba is a professor of Spanish in Indiana.