posted October 22, 1999

Inaugural Address Excerpts

During his inauguration on Friday, Oct. 22, Hope College President Dr. James Bultman challenged himself and all involved in the college to work together to help Hope excel.

          "Hope is a magnificent name for a college," he
  said.  "To be hopeful is to be simultaneously optimistic and
  truthful.  We can bring hope for a better world and the life
  hereafter."
          "I believe my responsibility as president is to
  envision with all of you what, by God's grace, Hope can yet
  become, to inspire you in achieving this along with your
  personal goals, and to affirm you when you do it with
  distinction," Bultman said.
          "I have no desire for Hope to be mediocre," he
  said.  "Exceptionality excites me; and it is my goal, along
  with the Hope constituency, to fully achieve Hope's
  mission."
          A capacity audience of approximately 1,100
  attended the inaugural ceremony, held in Dimnent Memorial
  Chapel in conjunction with the college's Homecoming Weekend.
          Bultman took office on July 1.  He had previously
  served as president of Northwestern College in Iowa for 14
  years, and prior to that had been a long-time member of the
  faculty, coaching staff and administration at Hope.  He is a
  1963 Hope graduate.
          He titled his address "Hope as hope!"
          Bultman cited five "enduring values" as central to
  Hope's identity and work.  He said that they have been
  expressed to him consistently by members of the Hope faculty
  and staff in the months since he took office:  an
  exceptional academic program; a vibrant Christian faith; a
  caring community; the development of the whole person--mind,
  body and spirit; and stewardship of resources.
          The emphasis on the academic program, he noted,
  has been strong since he was a student at Hope himself
  beginning in the fall of 1959.  "From faculty, and
  administrators, both then and now, has come the message that
  Hope is first and foremost an educational institution where
  teaching, learning and scholarship are of primary
  importance," he said.
          Bultman noted that Hope must continue to find ways
  to make itself so strong academically that it is
  irresistible to prospective students.  He said that Hope
  must emphasize the importance of undergraduate-level
  teaching; create a campus environment that prizes teaching,
  learning and scholarship; attract faculty, staff and
  students who are capable and motivated, and provide them
  with the resources they need; promote collaborative faculty-
  student research; promote interdisciplinary learning;
  internationalize the curriculum; work hard; and stress that
  an education is not merely training for a first job, but "a
  foundation for meaningful life itself."
          Concerning the college's Christian character, he
  said, "It is a dynamic dimension at Hope that is not
  prescriptive, not parochial, not homogeneous, not
  suffocating, not indoctrinating but meaningfully and
  appropriately vibrant."
          "Hope intends to follow a centrist position of the
  Reformed Church in America [with which the college is
  affiliated]," he said.  "It is our intent, that while many
  will be exactly in line with this position, others may
  dangle from their toes or fingers either to the left or
  right of this line and still remain an integral, valued and
  respected part of the community we call Hope."
          Regarding the college's nature as a caring
  community, Bultman said, "The intensity with which people
  identified the caring relational nature of Hope was a
  surprise even to me."
          "It has always been this kind of place, of course,
  but the personnel present here now advocate strongly for a
  relationship of trust, respect, acceptance--even while not
  necessarily approving or celebrating all behaviors and
  positions," he said.  "There is no doubt in my mind that
  this is exactly the kind of institution Hope can and should
  be."
          The Hope experience, he said, must ultimately
  contribute to the development of the whole person--including
  not only in intellect and faith, but also physically and
  socially.  "When we are serious about these four
  developmental dimensions, it should never be necessary to
  mask the mediocrity of one by purporting the virtues of
  others," he said.
          Stewardship, Bultman noted, includes raising funds
  to support the college's work, using the funds responsibly,
  and the people "necessary to achieve our mission with
  distinction."
          Concerning the latter, he said, "At Hope, we have
  a treasure trove of outstanding faculty and staff who are
  able to admirably fulfill their roles.  It is important that
  we view this resource as one which needs to be nurtured and
  supported."
          He also stressed the college's responsibility as a
  part of the wider Holland community.  "We very much desire
  to be a good neighbor--believing strongly that the vitality
  of the community in which we reside and the college are
  mutually dependent on each other," he said.  "Our intention
  is to work cooperatively to create the kind of environment
  where both the college and the city can flourish."
          Developed together, Bultman said, the five values
  that he has found shared by members of the Hope community
  can help assure that the college is worthy of its name.
          "At its very best, I see Hope College as the
  embodiment of our hope for the future," he said.  "Hope as
  hope--a place where the dreams of so many become reality for
  many more."