By Kaitlin Fahey
At Aug. 27’s Opening Convocation the Georgetown College community was formally introduced to new faculty member Tim Van Haitsma. Soon-to-be-Dr. Van Haitsma is a member of the kinesiology and health studies department and is currently teaching sections of Lifetime Fitness, Conditioning, and Biomechanics.
Originally from western Michigan, physical activity has always been an integral part of Van Haitsma’s lifestyle. He received his Bachelor’s degree in biology from Calvin College, a Christian liberal arts institution in Grand Rapids, where he also ran track and cross country.
Since his time participating in collegiate athletics, during which his team earned two national titles, Van Haitsma has taken up road cycling, skiing, rock climbing and whitewater kayaking. He hopes to someday kayak the Grand Canyon.
Additionally, he encourages others to be physically active, referencing the role of exercise in disease prevention as well as his belief that “[Exercise] allows you to live life more fully…and also allows you to enjoy God’s creation in ways that other people can’t.”
With his extremely active lifestyle it is easy to understand how Van Haitsma became interested in studying kinesiology. He explains that while taking his first exercise physiology class at Calvin, “everything just clicked” as he realized where his true academic interests lay and became “enamored” with the role of exercise in his daily life.
After completing his bachelor’s degree, Van Haitsma went on to pursue his Master’s degree in exercise physiology at Indiana University, where his research examined the effects of caffeine and albuterol on exercise-induced asthma.
Van Haitsma then moved westward to work on his doctorate at the University of Utah, where his research reflects his primary interest in the area of fatigue. Van Haitsma’s dissertation, he explained, is an attempt “to determine what causes fatigue the day after exercise…when everything should have already recovered.”
The research, which has provided interesting findings on a molecular level, has been completed, and upon finishing the written dissertation, Van Haitsma will be awarded his Ph.D. in exercise physiology from the University of Utah.
Van Haitsma is excited about his new position at Georgetown for a number of reasons.
“I really love teaching…I love to help people learn and see students have the ‘aha!’ moment,” he said.
For Van Haitsma a second attractive quality about moving to Georgetown was the college’s Christian environment. Van Haitsma refers to his time spent at Calvin College, as well as the professors and coaches he interacted with, as an experience which helped shape his life and character.
Georgetown’s relatively small student body is yet another exciting and unique aspect for Van Haitsma because it helps to facilitate strong student-professor connections.
“[Georgetown] allows me to get to know my students and allows them to get to know me,” Van Haitsma said. He elaborated that he is looking forward to getting to know his students and colleagues better in the upcoming months.
After his first few weeks as a member of the Georgetown College community, Van Haitsma has only positive observations.
“It is truly a supportive and friendly environment,” he says, citing the friendliness of students and faculty alike as one aspect of campus that especially stands out to him. “When walking to or from class, having students say ‘hi’ or stopping me to talk is really outstanding. The faculty…are looking out for you and want you to succeed in all that you are doing.”
Van Haitsma is looking forward to his upcoming time at Georgetown.
In addition to the courses he’s teaching this semester, he hopes to eventually be able to teach additional courses in exercise physiology.
Being an advocate of physical activity, he’s also especially eager to support our Tigers in their various athletic competitions. “One of my goals this year is to make it to at least one of the competitions for each sport,” he said, adding, “If you see me at an event, feel free to come up and chat!”