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Presidential Update Summer 2006
To Hope College alumni, parents and friends:
The beginning of August! For most educators this is a time of butterflies and anxiety -- a time when we realize that there are only a few days remaining before the preparation for the new academic year must be completed. It is also a time to reflect on what has transpired during the past year and to anticipate with expectation and excitement what lies ahead for the next.
As I look back on the past year, I do so with a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude. It is always fulfilling to see young women and men perform at such high levels in the classroom and in co-curricular activities. How grateful we are for each one of them! Their years at Hope have been marked by rigor and challenge. They have earned an education, not merely been given a diploma. There is a huge difference! I am proud of Hope and them for this achievement. As they embark now on further study or their first full-time employment, they are poised to make a difference for good in the world, making ours a better place in which to live, work, and play. I have every confidence that they will use their ability in ways that serve humankind and glorify God.
I am also very thankful for the significant contributions of our faculty and staff. They are both talented and dedicated. In their scholarship, Hope professors resemble their counterparts at most large research universities. The publication and research records of Hope College faculty are exceptional, but the most recurring theme that I hear about our faculty and staff is their willingness to spend time interacting with students outside of class in mentoring relationships. It is a distinguishing feature of Hope and a value-added dimension that is unusual. Students especially are appreciative of this attention and encouragement.
I am also very grateful to you, our faithful alumni and friends, who make all of this possible for current and succeeding generations. Without your financial support and affirmation, a Hope College education would be beyond the reach of most of our students. Increasingly, they are aware of and grateful for your generosity which allows fulfillment of their dreams for an exceptional liberal arts education at a Christian institution.
Finally, as I reflect on this past year, I have a sense of how fragile life really is. Because of the typical cycles of life, it is not unusual for students to deal with the death of grandparents and the illnesses of family and aging relatives. The closeness of some relationships and the distance from home often makes these situations rather traumatic experiences. All of us realize that the elderly must die, but the young can also die. It is this latter circumstance when people die out of sequence that is often most difficult to accept. Such was the case this last year when our dear friend, colleague, and teacher, Janet Andersen, died in a tragic Thanksgiving Day automobile accident. It occurred in the winter when our treasured building services manager Bruce Rietman died at work. It also occurred just this past month when our classmate and recent alumna, Darcy Quick, died tragically in a hiking accident at her place of summer employment on Mt. Rainier. And, most recently, senior Paul Baeverstad, a fifth-generation Hope student, died in a fall in downtown Holland. We mourn their loss as well as others from the Hope College community.
Hall of Fame
It is a rare occurrence to have a colleague inducted into a Hall of Fame, but to have four of them selected during a three-month period is truly extraordinary. Such was the case this summer when Richard Ray, Daryl Siedentop, Raymond Smith, and Glenn VanWieren were all chosen for prestigious honors while still actively involved in their chosen professions.
Dr. Glenn VanWieren ’64, Hope’s head men’s basketball coach for the last 29 seasons, will be inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame on August 24 as recipient of the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is among the winningest coaches in NCAA Division III (564-194) and the most successful in MIAA history with 15 championships.
In May, Ray Smith was honored by his hometown when he was inducted into
the Riverside, California, Sport Hall of Fame. The winningest football
coach in the history of the MIAA
Dr. Daryl Siedentop ’60, former Hope professor and coach (kinesiology, assistant basketball, head baseball, 1960-1970) was inducted into the National Association for Sport and Physical Education’s Hall of Fame earlier this summer. He spent most of his professional career at Ohio State University, serving first as a professor and then Dean of the College of Education. Dr. Siedentop has also authored twelve books and is a popular speaker at professional conferences.
Finally, Dr. Richard Ray, Chair of Hope’s Department of Kinesiology was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame earlier this summer. Just one year ago, Professor Ray was presented the Association’s Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award. Because Dr. Ray’s acceptance speech was so unique and enthusiastically applauded, I thought it deserved a Hope audience:
I thought long and hard about what to say to all of you tonight. I called an old friend for some advice. Dr. Seuss…
In Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-One
I thought I’d play football and be a big star
I worked like a dog for nearly a week
I gave it my best, from my head to my tail
So the coach came a-callin’, said it was a no-brainer
I succumbed absolutely to his point of view
Forty years isn’t long, just the blink of an eye
Life’s a team sport, and my team’s the best
To the light of my life, for her love and support
How can I say what I feel in my heart?
A life lived with you has been rich beyond measure
Though you may be from Venus and I am from Mars
To my kids who are here and to one who is not
Brains and potential and good looking too
The world is all yours, it’s there for the taking
To my Mom here today and my Dad up above
Anything I did well was because of you two
Success is a vapor and goes out like a flame
A person is formed by his friends and his neighbors
No one is an island or worth much alone
I stand here tonight ‘cuz of Lindsy McLean
To a friend who is gone, who gave me a try
There are so many more and my time is so brief
To Kirk, Meg, and Tonia, the Hope College crew
Some people love silver, and others love gold
To the NATA and all its good folk
To Ken, Clint, and Dave, Becker-Doyle et al
To Denise, Marje, and Jim and to so many more
With this honor tonight I’m officially old
I’ll try to stay balanced, do the best I am able
Tomorrow I walk the Appalachian Trail
At the end of each day as I slip from my pack
I’ll offer a prayer for each one of you
As the breeze cools my brow and caresses my face
And I’ll know that my friends like the stars up above
So thanks to you all, ‘specially my wife
It is always gratifying to see students seize the opportunities for an education and achieve in ways commensurate with their abilities. For some, the obstacles are few and achievement seems certain. For others, the obstacles can be many and the outcome much less certain. Sona Smith, Class of 2006, would definitely belong in the latter category. She shared her story so compellingly at the awards and recognition dinner for international and multicultural students this spring and also at a morning Chapel service a couple of weeks later. With permission, I share parts of her story with you.
I know the chains of my brother, but they can no longer restrict my
I wrote that poem four years ago, long before I ever believed in life, love, or myself. However, I wrote it out of faith, faith that my God would not allow the harshness of my life to enter my future.
Today, that poem has manifested itself into reality.
I have not shared this with many people, but when I chose to come to Hope it wasn’t about Hope. It was about me choosing life. In August of 2002 I left a place that had restricted, doubted, and abused me for many years. The day I left my parents’ house for Hope was the last time I ever stepped foot into that household again.
My brother was incarcerated in 1989 and just released last fall; my sister left looking for love in all the wrong places and was left with three kids by the age of 21. My other sister started college but because she was still physically and mentally bound to my parents didn’t make it to the second semester.
I realized that if I was to grow, live to my fullest potential, and not fall victim to the limitations placed on me by my family, I would have to leave physically and mentally.
I came to Hope in August of 2002 fragile, broken, and scared . . . not knowing what God had in store for me. I arrived with everything I owned—my clothes, my bedding, a few pictures, and my story. I never went back. But I believed the word of God in Psalms 27:10. There it says, “When my father and mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” That’s exactly what he did. He opened up the doors in the heart of one of my high school teachers, and she blessed me with not only a place to live, but a place to grow. This family encouraged me and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and they supported me in my decision to attend Hope. Being at Hope has inspired greatness in me.
The past few weeks have been so hard for me. I’ve come to the realization that in 26 days I will pack my things and move to the next phase of my life, leaving behind my friends, my family, and my home.
To the faculty, staff, and administrators, thank you for giving me your best when I was too weak to give mine. Thanks for going beyond your normal call of duty to ensure my happiness.
To the students who will follow behind me, when the going gets rough as it often will, know that God would not have brought you this far to leave you. Make the most of your time here. Don’t always ask what Hope can do for you, but search for what you can give to the institution.
I am excited, nervous, anxious, scared, and sad to be graduating. I am confident that the lessons I have learned in the past and during my time at Hope will carry me through the next phase of my life with grace and agility.
Sona will be attending graduate school for a Masters Degree in social work at DePaul University this fall. Thanks to you, our alumni and friends, for making it possible through your Hope Fund gifts for Sona to attend Hope.
Vienna Summer School
Martie and I were privileged to attend the 50th anniversary of Hope’s Vienna Summer School in Vienna, Austria during the week of June 5th. We were there with 76 students and 40 alumni and friends. It was an enjoyable time. Martie and I left with the impression that this was an excellent experience for Hope students. We were also quite aware of the exceptional work of Hope’s two Vienna Summer School directors, Dr. Paul Fried and Dr. Stephen Hemenway. Hope is held in such high esteem in the city because of the ambassadorship of these two gentlemen who have established such positive relationships with the city and its people. The classes, lectures, culture, architecture, museums, and people all left us with the impression that every Hope student could benefit from such an international experience. Many do, of course, but we trust that the implementation of our new strategic plan will enable many more to experience the joy and challenge of living internationally.
Being in Vienna was doubly exciting for Martie and me. While we have been in Asian countries several times, we had never been to Europe. And—dare I say it—it was exciting because being in Vienna meant that we could not be at General Synod! It is customary for the college presidents of the three Reformed Church in America affiliated colleges to attend General Synod each year during the second week of June. This was our first “miss” in the last 22 years! Even more frightening was the realization that more than half of our wedding anniversaries have been spent in college dormitory bunk beds at General Synod. Being in Vienna was a step up!
Only weeks after the anniversary celebration, we were saddened by the death of Dr. Fried on Monday, July 24. In addition to establishing the summer school, Dr. Freid was the principal architect of Hope's international education program. He was a true visionary whose energy and commitment to Hope students have made a lasting difference to thousands of lives and the college itself, and will continue to do so for generations to come.
While in Vienna, I also thought how appropriate it was that the auditorium in the new Martha Miller Center had been named in honor of Paul Fried and Stephen Hemenway. And how grateful we are to the Miller family and other supporters for this spectacular new building on the Hope College campus that will highlight our efforts going forward in international education, multicultural education, communication, and modern and classical languages. Hope has a proud history in international education, and we look forward to the future with anticipation for doing it better.
It was an outstanding year for Hope College in intercollegiate sport. You are already aware of the national championship garnered by our women’s basketball team and the extraordinary 32-0 combined records of our men’s and women’s basketball teams in the inaugural year of the spectacular new DeVos Fieldhouse. What you are unlikely aware of is that Hope finished 12th out of 419 NCAA Division III colleges and universities in the 2005-06 U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup Final Standings, which is a measure of a college’s success in national post-season competition. It was Hope’s highest finish ever, and reflected points earned in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s track, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s golf, and women’s softball. For the sixth straight year, the eighth time in the last nine years, the 21st time in the last 27 years, and the 28th time overall, Hope has won the coveted MIAA Commissioner’s Cup for sport supremacy.
Note: As this Presidential Update goes to print, we were just informed that Hope College will host both the 2008 and the 2009 NCAA Division III women’s basketball national championships in the DeVos Fieldhouse and that Hope’s men’s and women’s teams both led the nation in NCAA Division III attendance!
The Hope College Board of Trustees has completed its review of the new strategic plan commissioned one year ago and diligently formulated by over 400 participants including faculty, students, trustees, alumni, and staff. The plan includes eleven major themes on which we will or have already embarked. Among these eleven major themes, all of which are considered important, the four which ranked highest in the thinking of the trustees and administration were these:
1. Hope would benefit from a sharpened/clarified mission statement.
Implementation of several initiatives is already underway.
As I look out my office window this morning, I see the progress on the renovation of Lubbers Hall. This historic building is being renovated primarily with new windows and an updated heating and cooling system. We are also making some structural changes to better accommodate the departments that occupy this building. It is a $3 million project that began when classes ended in May and must be completed by the time classes begin in August. We are counting on it!
Just across the street, another construction crew has completed work on the addition to Cook Hall. The Boersma-Claus wing will accommodate 66 students and will enable more students to live on campus as well as provide a replacement for some cottages which had served their useful life. This addition was part of the original Cook Hall plan and is being completed now at a cost of $2 million.
We look forward with eager anticipation to greeting those students who will soon be returning to Hope and also the students enrolling as the Class of 2010. All of our facilities will be full, maximizing the use of a most attractive college campus. I extend to all of you a special invitation to visit the Hope College campus as your schedules allow. The campus grounds and facilities provide a pleasant environment that enables our students and faculty to perform at the very highest levels. Many of you have contributed significantly to the beauty and functionality of the campus, for which we thank you.
The campus, though considerably less occupied in the summer than in
the academic year, is still alive with many learners of all ages. We
have young children involved in the summer Children’s After School
Achievement (CASA) program; Upward Bound young women and men who are
preparing for college in a federally funded program that prepares them
for collegiate study; 941 students taking Hope classes on campus, off
campus, or via the Internet; and 170 college and 11 high school students
who are doing collaborative research with faculty, typically through
National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research. Once again, Hope leads
the nation in the number of NSF grants for undergraduate liberal arts
colleges. The Hope Summer Repertory Theater is celebrating its 35th consecutive
season as a most enjoyable cultural experience for the Western Michigan
area. We also have professional conferences on campus, such as the Brain
and Learning Institute which is the brainchild of Dr. Leslie Wessman,
the Arnold and Esther Sonneveldt Professor Emerita of Education. In addition,
there are athletic, dance, and music camps as well as ongoing convention
and corporate retreats. During the course of the summer, there are more
than 12,000 “learners” on campus! These programs provide
great experiences for the participants, utilize our exceptional facilities,
and generate a considerable amount of money for the college that helps
defray the cost of delivering a Hope College education during the regular
We move through places every day that never would have been if not for those who came before us.
We recognize with gratitude the foresight and efforts of all of those who have preceded us. Hope has been a strong institution for a very long time. Those of us here now are privileged to build on that sure foundation even as we engage in new initiatives that enhance an already nationally reputable collegiate experience. It is our privilege, joy, and responsibility to do so.
James E. Bultman, President