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A Comprehensive Plan to Improve
Minority Participation at Hope College

Prepared by President John H. Jacobson

For many years Hope College has had a commitment to improving participation of members of American minorities. From the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, numbers of minority students, faculty and staff increased steadily though by small increments. In 1997, however, it appeared that growth in numbers of minority students had slowed or stopped. This became a matter of discussion throughout the campus in that year.

In the fall of 1997, I interviewed many members of the Hope College community to learn their perceptions of the situation and their suggestions for improvement. As a result of those interviews, I recommended to the Board of Trustees that they authorize the formation of a Task Force on Minority Participation at Hope College. They readily agreed to this proposal. In December of 1997 and January of 1998, the Task Force met under the leadership of Trustee Dr. George Zuidema and Provost Dr. Jacob Nyenhuis. The Task Force had 20 members drawn from the faculty, staff, Trustees, students and friends of Hope College. I was also a task force participant.

The Task Force stressed the importance of improving both the recruitment and the retention of members of American minorities to the faculty, student body and staff of Hope College. We observed that the current small number of minority participants was, in itself, a major impediment to recruitment and retention. Our vision was of a Hope College community that would be fully welcoming to all, including members of American minorities. To realize that vision, we proposed a series of goals and recommended a series of strategies to pursue those goals.

One of the task force recommendations was that the president form a Comprehensive Plan for the Improvement of Minority Participation at Hope College and also appoint an officer of the College to work with him to assure that the implementation of the plan would receive the detailed attention and support required for success.

During the summer of 1998, I engaged the Administrative Council, a group of 21 people including the chief officers of the College, in extended discussion of the Task Force's recommendations. Out of those meetings came the Comprehensive Plan that follows. This plan is being reviewed and discussed by administrative and governance committees. It serves as the basis for current and future coordinated efforts to improve minority participation at Hope College.

Members of the Administrative Council are familiar with this plan and would be good persons to contact if anyone has questions or suggestions about the
plan. The membership of the Administrative Council is:
Bill Anderson
Jim Bekkering
Gary Camp
Robert De Young
Richard Frost
Jim Gentile
Alfredo Gonzales
Bruce Himebaugh
Phyllis Hooyman
Jon Huisken
John Jacobson
David Jensen
Glenn Lowe
Greg Maybury
Nancy Miller
Jack Nyenhuis
Ben Patterson
D. Wesley Poythress
Tom Renner
Bill Reynolds
Barry Werkman

The major purpose of this plan is to increase minority participation in Hope College. A related purpose is to enable Hope College to be, and to be perceived as, fully welcoming to minority students, faculty and staff. These purposes are in accord with long-standing declarations of intent by the College and with the College's Christian commitment. They are also in accord with a vision of America as an harmonious society recognizing, but not fractured by, racial, ethnic and cultural differences.

Implementation of the Plan
Each of the program elements is assigned to one of the senior administrative officers of the College for further planning and implementation. Mr. D. Wesley Poythress, Director of Multicultural Life since August, 1997, will become Assistant Dean as of October 1, 1998.  In addition to other on-going responsibilities, Mr. Poythress will take responsibility for keeping the President, as well as responsible boards and committees, informed of the progress that is being made in implementing the comprehensive plan.

Elements of the Plan
Listed below are 30 plan elements. Each of these elements will contribute to the long-range success of the plan. Detailed planning and implementation for each element began in August of 1998 and will be pursued in a coordinated way over the next five years.

A. Minority Student Recruitment
Beginning in the fall of 1999 the College will enroll at least 12 more first-year minority students each year than the average enrollment of first-year minority student enrollment from 1995 to 1998. The College will:
1. Offer competitive minority scholarships to selected outstanding minority candidates and inform all prospective minority students of available financial aid.
2. Develop long-term relationships with potential feeder high schools enrolling significant numbers of minority students.
3. Develop closer ongoing relationships with families of potential minority students.
4. Create interest and support in minority constituencies by building upon existing relationships, such as those formed by CASA, Project TEACH, Upward Bound, and the Chapel program.
5. Develop relationships with RCA and other church groups.
6. Select and train current Hope students to assist in the recruitment of minority students.
7. Foster departmental/faculty efforts to recruit minority students.

B. Minority Student Retention
1. Publicize and promote an intensive academic and residential life program which provides shared living/learning experiences for both minority and majority students.
2. Establish a Multicultural Center where minority and majority students and faculty can come to find resources and an environment promoting cross-cultural understanding.
3. Establish a one-on-one mentoring program for each minority student willing to participate.  This will include mentoring in both academic and life skills.
4. Provide workshop and supervisory assistance for resident advisors in creating and sustaining a positive cultural climate in residence halls.
5. Provide a special orientation program for minority students in addition to the orientation program for all students.
6. Enlist the assistance of community and business leaders in improving the hospitality of the community to minority students.
7. Foster the formation of a Multicultural Student Association that would include majority and minority students and sponsor programming aimed at improving cross-cultural understanding.
8. Develop joint student/faculty research opportunities which include minority students.

C. Increased Presence of Minority Faculty and Staff
1. Continue and expand the conversation with the faculty and staff on the subject of the value to the College of improved minority participation.
2. Hold training sessions within the faculty and staff on methods of attracting and retaining minority faculty and staff.
3. Require all departments to develop a strategy for attracting and retaining minority faculty and staff.
4. Provide incentives for departments which do recruit and retain minority faculty and staff.

D.Understanding of Cultures
1. Continue and develop cross-cultural courses in the general education program.
2. Feature the art, music, dance, and literature of different cultures throughout the year.
3. Continue and enhance co-curricular programs throughout the year that emphasize cross-cultural understanding, e.g., Martin Luther King Day Celebration, Images, Student Congress guest lecture.
4. Provide cross-cultural education for staff.

E. Administrative Activities
1. Provide every member of our community with a booklet describing Hope's policies regarding the role of minorities and include a copy of A Vision of Hope.
2. Emphasize these policies in printed and on-line material.
3. Identify and solicit potential donors for the support of multicultural efforts at Hope.
4. Continue to evaluate and improve language used in describing activities in this area.
5. Appoint minority members to key administrative positions as opportunities arise.
6. Develop regular means of benefitting from the experience of other colleges.
7. Involve members of Holland's minority communities in planning programs and activities designed to increase minority participation in Hope.

end of report