posted July 6, 2006

Douglas Koopman Heads New Leadership Program

A Hope College graduate with a variety of experiences in teaching, public service and volunteer work has been hired to direct the college's new leadership program.

Dr. Douglas L. Koopman, a 1979 Hope graduate who most recently taught at Calvin College, started on July 1 as director of Hope's new Leadership Program and Professor of Political Science.

The new multidisciplinary program will draw focused attention to that part of the college's vision statement that challenges Hope students to "seek opportunities for servant leadership." Established through the college's recent "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" comprehensive campaign, the program, Koopman noted, will build on priorities and practices already common at Hope.

"Hope College has always placed a strong emphasis on mission in the broadest sense: equipping students to go out into the world and lead - to be part of important systems, organizations, missions and movements," he said. "This will be a more focused program that will help Hope carry out what it already does very well."

"There are a lot of leadership programs at schools across the U.S.; some of them are very good and some of them not," he said. "Hope, in the rare situation of being an outstanding residential liberal arts college in the broader Christian tradition, has a real opportunity to do something exceptional."

The program's goals include helping students to develop leadership and critical thinking skills, to integrate faith into their understanding of leadership, to become involved in leadership experiences in the community and to understand leadership from a scholarly perspective.

The program will have a strong academic component. Koopman noted that a number of courses taught at the college - in disciplines ranging from communication; to economics, management and accounting; to psychology - address elements of good leadership practice and could be part of a multidisciplinary leadership curriculum. He also plans to build on existing local internship opportunities, possibly creating a leadership and community engagement semester that integrates expanded local internship opportunities with special seminars and relevant traditional classes. The first elements of the new program could debut as soon as the spring of 2006, with a fuller program developed by the next fall.

Koopman's first objective is to connect with other members of the Hope on-campus and off-campus communities and to gather their thoughts before program details are finalized. He's been undertaking that process for several months. It has offered, he noted, an opportunity to model a quality that he anticipates the program itself will foster. "One of the hallmarks of being a good leader is that first you listen in an inclusive way, tapping the talent and wisdom that surrounds you," he said. "This, I think, is the most important first thing."

Koopman had been a member of the political science faculty at Calvin since 1995, and a tenured full professor since 2002. While at Calvin, he was also the initial program director of the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics from 1997 to 2002 and interim director of the Center for Social Research in 2002 and 2003.

From 1981 through 1995, he was a staff member on Capitol Hill, working for several members of the U.S. House and Senate, including Michigan representatives Pete Hoekstra, Fred Upton, and the late Paul Henry. He also worked with the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress as senior economist, acting staff director, director of minority research and deputy staff director. While in Washington, D.C., he also taught part-time at both Marymount University and The Catholic University of America.

Koopman is the co-author, with Dr. David K. Ryden of the Hope faculty and Dr. Amy E. Black of Wheaton College, of the book "Of Little Faith: The Politics of George W. Bush's Faith-Based Initiatives"; editor of "Serving the Claims of Justice: The Thoughts of Paul B. Henry"; and author of "Hostile Takeover: The House Republican Party, 1980-1995." He has also written a variety of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and has presented several formal lectures and conference papers.
While living in the Washington area, he and his wife, Gayle L. Boss, who is a Hope classmate, established a GED completion program, which now operates as the Academy of Hope. He also helped establish the Faith and Politics Institute, a bipartisan program that encourages racial reconciliation and spiritual reflection among members of Congress and senior congressional staff.

His volunteer activities have also included time as a senior associate with Search for Common Ground, a broad-based interest group coalition in Washington, D.C., on faith-based policy issues, and as a legislative fellow with the House Republican Conference, providing support on faith-based legislation and outreach efforts.

Koopman majored in mathematics at Hope. He also holds a master's in theological studies from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.; and a master's and a doctorate in American politics from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.