A Look at the Accomplished Life of BW Religion professor Alan Kolp

Growing up on an Indiana farm, Dr. Alan Kolp, a Religion professor at Baldwin Wallace, didn’t expect to be where he is today. His career has introduced him to new friends, taken him across the globe, and allowed him to teach what he was driven to learn: how to think about life.
Kolp earned his undergraduate degree from Guilford College in North Carolina, where a professor encouraged him to consider graduate school, which he did. After receiving two degrees from Harvard, Kolp spent time in Germany as a Fulbright fellow. With a masters in Divinity, Kolp took a position teaching at Earlham college and Earlham School of Religion in Indiana. There Kolp taught graduate students and students in seminary.

In 2000, Kolp moved to BW, becoming the endowed chair in Faith and Life and a professor in the Religion department. Since starting at BW, Kolp has been the recipient of multiple awards including The Gigax Faculty Scholarship Award, The Bechberger Award for Human Development, and the Strosacker Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Upon accepting the endowed chair position, Kolp knew he would be spending half his time teaching, but wasn’t sure what he wanted to dedicate his free time to. “When I came to BW I literally did not know one person,” Kolp said, so he started seeking out people on campus to get to know. “I was interested in who the interesting people were and that what I wanted to do was hang out with interesting people. One of them turned out to be Peter Rea,” Kolp said. At the time Rea was the Dean of the school of Business. What started as chatting over coffee morphed into conversations about virtues and their place in successful leadership. Kolp and Rea then began developing their first book: “Integrity is a Growth Market,” which was published in 2006. Fourteen years later, Kolp and Rea are currently working on their fourth book.

Kolp had multiple opportunities to lead seminars about his work in leadership, many in foreign countries. “I’ve been to Brazil, Russia, India, China, and European countries; it’s been a good experience, and it continues to go in interesting directions,” Kolp said. Writing for an audience isn’t new to Kolp. For the past 12 years he has been writing a daily blog centered around spirituality and being reflective. “It really grew out of my discipline of trying to reflect on life and then sharing some. Instead of just thinking about it and going to bed, I’ve tried to write something.” Kolp continued, “It keeps me reflective and thinking.” The blog, “Faith & Life Inspirational Message,” can be found on Blogger and Twitter and reaches people across the nation.

Since 2002, Religion department chair Dr. Ellen Posman has been teaching alongside Kolp. The two have worked together to modify religion curriculum and create engaging and effective classes for students of any major. Along with their shared professional interests Kolp and Posman also bonded over their love of sports. “He is exceptional at building community,” Posman said, explaining Kolp’s campus involvement. “He really is a dynamo.”

In addition to the work he does in the religion department, Kolp also serves as the NCAA athletic representative for BW. Through his leadership role in athletics Kolp has recently started a program training student athletes to become leaders on and off the field, partnering with The Center for Innovation and Growth, another program Kolp helped start. “I would not be the person I am today without him” Ashtyn Morris, a student athlete in the program, said.

Explaining his involvement across campus Kolp said, “I think in some ways that’s kind of been the story of my life, being pretty curious and pretty open and maybe willing to do some things that typically you wouldn’t expect a religion professor to do.” Students also enjoy his different classes. Sophomore Kiersten Kennedy has taken multiple classes with Kolp. To give a sense of his teaching style, Kennedy explained that instead of lecturing, Kolp has students read assigned pages outside of class and then holds discussions during class time. “He facilitates the conversation which I think is really cool,” said Kennedy, who feels like Kolp also teaches his students about different ways to look at the world. “I think he pushes us to make up our own mind and to push ourselves with what we believe.”

Kolp enjoys his work on campus and all the connections he has made. When reflecting on the past twenty years Kolp said: “When I think about what I’ve done, my own two girls are off doing their own thing and I feel quite good about that… I see my investment in students and if I can help anybody make the world better, then I’ve done what little bit I can”