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Administration Profile: David Cunningham
CrossRoads Director
and Professor of Religion

As director of Hope College’s recently established CrossRoads Project, Dr. David Cunningham works to integrate ideas and concerns that often remain separate in modern life.

“I think there’s a tendency at college towards a kind of compartmentalization,” says Dr. Cunningham. The aim of the CrossRoads Project is to “encourage students to develop a more integrated way to think about their lives and particularly about their futures.”

Specifically, the project addresses questions about vocation and calling, offering students “opportunities to bring that theological thinking that they might do in a religion class or chapel or a Bible study into a wider framework with respect to their lives as a whole.”

Dr. Cunningham sees these opportunities stemming from the intersection of religious perspective and scholarly work. Hope’s integration of faith and serious academics was one of the things that drew Dr. Cunningham to the college. “Hope seemed like a place that took its Christian identity seriously but also took academic discussion seriously.”

As a professor of religion who taught previously at Austin College, the University of St. Thomas and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Dr. Cunningham readily identifies with the importance of scholarly inquiry. His views were reinforced during sabbatical years at the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France, and at the University of Freiburg in Germany. He says, “Research and writing are a significant part of my scholarly vocation.”

His own transition from faculty member to administrator was motivated by the intersection of his different talents and abilities. “I was discerning a call towards academic administration,” he says, “but I was still a Christian theologian at heart.”

Now, within the framework of the CrossRoads Project, he integrates his talents as a professor of religion and a theologian with his administrative skills. Dr. Cunningham helps faculty members implement ideas about vocation into the curriculum, internship offerings, informal discussions and other college programs.

“The key to the project’s success is the strength of the faculty as a whole,” he says. “Hope’s vision for the shape of the program relies heavily on the ideas of the faculty.”

Still, his unique mix of academic experience and administrative skills are well-situated at the college. His experience helps him, he says, because, “I’m more prepared to help faculty figure out how they might help their students.”

This profile was written by Melissa Sexton, a 2005 Hope College graduate from Kalamazoo, Mich., for the 2005-06 Hope College Catalog.

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