Ron De Jong, vice president for external relations at Northwestern College, has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals (NACCAP). The award was presented in a surprise ceremony at halftime of Northwestern’s Homecoming football game on Oct. 2 by Chant Thompson, the association’s executive director.
Only three other individuals have received the Lifetime Achievement Award in the 40-year history of NACCAP. De Jong, who oversees Northwestern’s admissions, financial aid and public relations offices, has worked for the college since he graduated in 1971. He plans to retire at the end of this academic year.
“Ron’s commitment to Northwestern College and Christ-centered higher education is simply remarkable,” says Krista Meckling, a 2000 Northwestern alumna who is NACCAP’s coordinator for membership services and communication. “His leadership and innovation have helped make NACCAP the organization we are today, and he has served as a mentor to many in the admissions profession.”
De Jong advanced as an admissions counselor into an assistant director role and was named the college’s director of admissions in 1977. He led recruitment efforts that resulted in steady growth and a student body more diverse geographically and ethnically.
“Over the time Ron has been a part of Northwestern’s admissions office, the college has prospered,” says President Greg Christy. “Our steady and increasing enrollment has been the envy of many schools. Northwestern will be forever grateful that he chose to invest his entire professional career at his alma mater. He cares deeply about other people and has a can-do spirit that has served him and the college well.”
Mark Bloemendaal, who was Northwestern’s director of admissions from 2003 until becoming director of alumni relations this summer, says De Jong’s enthusiasm for Northwestern and the mission of Christian colleges is infectious and helps co-workers realize the importance of their work. “He has a unique ability to be personal and professional with the people who work for him. He values everyone’s contribution and makes the workplace enjoyable. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, which helps young employees realize they don’t have to be perfect—just committed. His interests are diverse, so he relates well to a lot of people.”
The North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals is comprised of admissions and guidance personnel from almost 250 Christian high schools, liberal arts colleges and universities, Bible colleges, graduate schools and seminaries throughout North America. NACCAP strives to advance enrollment in Christian higher education through administering more than 100 National Christian College Fairs each fall. The association also promotes career development, spiritual growth and mutual cooperation among its member institutions.