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IU Northwest mourns the loss of Associate Professor of Communication Jim Tolhuizen

Memorial visitation and service of remembrance set for Wednesday starting at 4 p.m. at Burns Funeral Home in Crown Point

Indiana University Northwest regretfully announced Friday the passing of Associate Professor of Communication James H. Tolhuizen, Ph.D. Dr. Tolhuizen, age 64, of Merrillville, passed away on Oct. 1, 2010.

Dr. Tolhuizen had been a professor with the IU Northwest Department of Communication since 1985 and was one of the founders of that department.

A memorial visitation for Dr. Tolhuizen will be held at Burns Funeral Home, located at 10101 Broadway in Crown Point, on Wednesday, Oct. 6, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. A Time of Remembrance service will follow immediately at 6 p.m.

For more information on Burns Funeral Home, or for directions, please visit the Web at

Dr. Tolhuizen earned his undergraduate and master's degrees in Communication from Western Michigan University in 1969 and 1973, and he received his Ph.D. from the University of Denver in 1977.

Dr. Tolhuizen's teaching specialties included Interpersonal Communication, Human Communication Theory, Public Speaking, Persuasion, and Research Methods. He wrote about and researched interpersonal dating relationships, a topic that was of great interest to his students.

IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe expressed the university's condolences on Dr. Tolhuizen's passing.

"Dr. Jim Tolhuizen was a valued faculty colleague who contributed, in so many significant ways, to the enrichment of our students' academic experience and to the growth and success of Indiana University Northwest," Dr. Lowe said. "We are deeply saddened by his passing, and, in behalf of the entire IU Northwest community, we extend sincerest sympathy to Dr. Tolhuizen's family and friends, and to his many colleagues at IU Northwest.

"Being new to the campus community, I am still meeting my faculty colleagues. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with Jim on several occasions and, just last week, attended the Northwest Indiana Symphony Chorus performance in which Jim sang. The unanimous opinion is that Dr. Tolhuizen was an outstanding campus citizen who will be missed by the entire IU Northwest community."

Before joining IU Northwest, Dr. Tolhuizen taught from 1980 to 1985 in the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University, and from 1977 until 1980 he served as lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Communication at the University of New Hampshire.

Dr. Tolhuizen was a Vietnam War veteran who served overseas in 1969-70. He recounted his wartime experiences for IU Northwest Professor Emeritus of History James Lane's 2008 periodical "Steel Shavings: Brothers in Arms," and he also discussed his war experiences periodically with Lane's history students.

"I guess most guys in my unit had a difficult time figuring me out, especially the younger ones," Tolhuizen wrote in the "Steel Shavings" essay "His Face." "I was a little older, I had a college degree, I was an actor and singer, and I had even, at times, voiced my opposition to the war."

Tolhuizen came home from Vietnam in 1970 after suffering a serious leg injury, which he also recounted in his "Steel Shavings" commentary.

"After I got out of the hospital and returned home, nobody spoke about the war, which probably made a lot of sense because people tend not to talk about things that are conflict-producing," Tolhuizen remarked.

Dr. Tolhuizen's academic career was marked not only by outstanding classroom instruction but also by extensive service to his professional field, his university, and the community. He was a former president of the IU Northwest Faculty Organization, and he was the second Communication faculty member to join the university, after Professor of Communication Dorothy Ige, Ph.D.

"I came in January and he came in August," Dr. Ige recalled on Oct. 1. "We both had very young infants, and so we had a lot in common. Whenever my son had a birthday party, he would come. We not only raised our children together but also the department. We founded the Department of Communication. I was the first chair and he was the second chair, so we were very proud for having done that. We now have 50-plus majors in the department.

"We were on convention programs together, we started the annual Speech Forum, and putting that together every year was great," Dr. Ige said. "We decided we would chair as rotating chairs so the other person could get some research done."

Dr. Ige noted that singing was one of Tolhuizen's great joys in life.

"He was a great singer, and sometimes you would hear him singing in the hallways," she recalled. "I will really miss that about him. He invited many of the faculty to come hear him sing wonderful chamber music.

"He was very diverse, because while he was a part of a symphony, he also loved watching fast cars at the race track. He was really a racetrack fan and would follow the Indianapolis 500," Dr. Ige added.

Dr. Ige also remarked on her colleague's love of jokes and humor, and on his distinctive laugh that will be missed throughout the campus. Most of all, she said, Dr. Jim Tolhuizen loved IU Northwest.

"He was here almost every day whether he had classes or not," Dr. Ige said. "This is where he did his work. IU Northwest was almost like his second home. He was just here yesterday. He is well-known on campus and this will be a real big gap to fill in this department. He was the cornerstone of the department. He will be greatly missed."

IU Northwest extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Jim Tolhuizen.



Media Contact:

Christopher Sheid

Related Links

NWI Times Obituary
for Dr. Jim Tolhuizen

File Photo
Associate Professor of Communication Dr. Jim Tolhuizen, Ph.D.
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