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Presidential Update Winter 2000

To: Hope College Alumni and Friends:

I am grateful for this opportunity to share a few thoughts with you about campus life at Hope College. Since our arrival on campus in July, Martie and I have very much enjoyed serving the college in this leadership capacity. We have felt affirmed by so many of you in both tangible and intangible ways. Many of you have uplifted us regularly in your prayers, and we have felt this. Others of you have entrusted or will be entrusting your sons and daughters to us for their collegiate experiences. Still, others of you have generously, even sacrificially, supported the college financially. We have definitely experienced your partnership in the wonderful work God has called us to do at Hope College. To be sure, there are many challenges. But, there are also many special opportunities to make a difference for good in the lives of so many talented young women and men at such a crucial time in their lives. For this special privilege, we often give thanks.


The Advancement Office has planned several receptions around the country enabling Martie and me to meet significant numbers of the Hope College constituency. In early February, for example, we hosted an alumni reception in Washington, DC. Martie and I were pleased to share our hopes and dreams for the college as well as meet many different generations of Hope College alumni. It is not uncommon at these receptions to renew friendships with classmates, students I have taught at Hope, athletes I have coached here, and friends we have known through various affiliations with Hope College or the Reformed Church in America. Whatever the situation, it is a joy to greet those whose affection for Hope matches our own. Thank you for your responsiveness to these invitations that have so warmed our hearts with the spirit of Hope.

Tuition and Fees

One of the more important decisions that the Trustees make on an annual basis is the decision relative to the pricing for tuition, room, and board. At their January meeting, the Trustees established these fees as follows:

Tuition $16,554
Room 2,382
Board 2,842
Activity Fee 90

This represents a 3.9% increase over the past year and is a lower increase than any national average increase of independent colleges and universities since 1972. Still, we realize that college costs are expensive. It is always a challenge to balance the cost for the exceptional undergraduate experience that students and parents have come to expect at Hope College with the desire to remain affordable for talented and deserving students.

No student pays the entire cost of a Hope College education. Due to the generosity of alumni, friends, churches, and foundations, the above price placed on this experience is less than the actual cost. Usually, the actual charges to students are further reduced by applicable federal, state, and, increasingly, institutional grants. Relative to the national stature of a Hope College education, our overall pricing among comparable institutions remains very favorable, especially when viewed as an investment rather than a cost. It is also important to recognize that student tuition does not cover campus construction projects. These, too, are funded by the generosity of others. Affordable excellence remains our goal!

Robert De Young Announces Retirement

Robert De Young, Vice President for College Advancement and formerly Dean of Students at Hope College, has announced his retirement effective with the end of the college's fiscal year on June 30, 2000. To many of us, Bob De Young is "Mr. Hope College." His service in both Student Development and College Advancement has been exceptional. The absence of Bob's daily presence on campus will be a significant loss for all of us. During my faculty days at Hope in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bob was our Dean of Students. He was respected by all and especially admired by Hope students. He had the unique ability to be able to confront with compassion in his developmental work with students. When then President Gordon Van Wylen tapped Bob to become the Vice President for Advancement, I felt that his willingness to do so exemplified the consummate team player. Bob's leadership role at the college during these intervening years has only reinforced the affection that so many of us have for him. I am especially grateful to Bob for his willingness to remain at Hope beyond his normal retirement date in order to effect a smooth presidential transition. And, I am very hopeful that we will still be able to utilize Bob's considerable expertise, albeit on a more limited basis.

We are currently involved in a search for Bob's successor. Those with an interest in this assignment or wishing to nominate someone may do so by writing directly to me. A search committee, which I will chair, will be announced soon.

Student Behavior Incidents

It is with deep regret that I inform you of three alcohol-related incidents that took place this past fall. These incidents have been widely publicized in the local media. There were injuries and arrests. The college community was disappointed and disturbed by the behaviors of a few which have reflected so negatively on the entire campus.

The college has cooperated fully with law enforcement officials in their investigations. Simultaneously, the college has conducted its own investigation and imposed sanctions. Two fraternities and a sorority were temporarily suspended during the investigation and are now under substantive and burdensome sanctions. These sanctions include, among other disciplinary measures, giving community service hours, providing educational programs for high school students on the topic of substance abuse, and developing a strategic plan with the college to prevent a recurrence of this sort of activity in the future. While stopping short of a permanent suspension, the organizations are serving multi-year probations. In addition, charges are being brought against individuals, and these individuals will be subject to disciplinary measures through the college judicial system as well.

Alcohol abuse continues to be one of the primary concerns of educators nationwide at both the secondary school and collegiate levels. While I am deeply saddened by the events of this past fall, especially as regards the victims, I welcome the opportunity to more fully address this matter on the Hope College campus. We cannot and should not control all student behaviors, but we will address surely and firmly matters involving illegal activities of underage drinking and the sale of alcohol without a license as well as inappropriate behavior in college residence halls.

We are not on a mission to do away with fraternities and sororities. When they function according to their stated purposes, they can be very good organizations as they have so often demonstrated in the past. However, when they function in ways counter to their stated purposes, their behavior becomes intolerable. We are also not out to make life difficult for individuals. The incidents involve a very small percentage of the Hope student body. For reasons, however, of safety, reputation, and liability, the college community is simply unwilling to allow these types of behaviors to persist. Our goal is to work developmentally with students and organizations to instill the kinds of behaviors that will allow them to live wholesome and productive lives.

Dinner for Two!

My enthusiasm for Hope students remains undiminished. In so many different ways, Hope students continue to make us very proud. Their intellectual gifts, their commitment to the Christian faith, and their willingness to serve others are all reminders of the wonderful homes from which our students come. It is, indeed, a pleasure to build on these sure foundations.

Martie and I have received many invitations to have refreshments with them during residence hall study breaks, to meet with them in their college cottages, or to have dinner with them in a college cafeteria. It was our joy earlier this month to be invited for dinner with five young women in their College East apartment. What an evening it was! When we arrived, we were greeted by Tannia from Ecuador, Essy from Zambia, Yoko from Japan, Olga from Ukraine, and Sarah from Hudsonville, Michigan. Five wonderfully talented women from five different countries, indeed, five different continents! Tannia began our evening meal with a beautiful prayer that recognized our cultural diversity but also our oneness in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. A delicious dinner followed, with a dish representing their country's cuisine prepared by each of the young women. All five of these women are outstanding students, and all are working their way through college. One is majoring in business, three in the health professions, and one in foreign language. All will make a difference for good!


Many in our country are concerned about the continuing decline of volunteerism in our society. Increasingly, we are becoming a people who do not engage fully in community or civic organizations. But, volunteerism at Hope is alive and well! During the course of the academic year, individuals and organizations within the Hope College community have amazed and delighted me with their willingness to voluntarily serve others. A variety of organizations, including fraternities and sororities, have been involved with fundraisers for multiple sclerosis, AIDS, cancer, Parkinson's disease, CROP Walk, and the DeVos Children's Hospital. Others have prepared Thanksgiving baskets and bought Christmas gifts for those less fortunate. In addition, students have participated in a community-wide cleanup event, opened up their residence halls for Halloween parties for youngsters, and worked with Habitat for Humanity. Twice weekly, 130 Hope students are involved in CASA (the Children's After School Achievement program), a program cited nationally for its work with at-risk elementary school children. During spring break, 275 Hope students will pay their own way to serve in a variety of Christian service endeavors throughout the country and abroad. In so many ways, I applaud the efforts of our students and look forward with confidence to the future when many of them will occupy leadership positions in our churches and communities.

The President's Home

Finally, Martie and I want to share with you how privileged we feel to occupy the President's Home at Hope College. It is a marvelous house built more than 100 years ago and filled with much of Hope's history. During the course of this year, we have had many people tour this historic building. It is our hope that on a subsequent visit to campus, you will have an opportunity to do so as well.

The President's Home is nestled among four college residence halls-Durfee to the east, Van Vleck to the south, Voorhees to the west, and Cook to the north. When students arrived in the fall, we realized that noise could be a problem. We thought it appropriate to negotiate a suitable living environment with our immediate neighbors. We reasoned together and agreed that if noise became too much of a problem-students should simply let us know and we would turn down our CD player!! Actually, students have been wonderfully benevolent. It is true that they can oftentimes be quite noisy between 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. But, they generously make up for it by being very quiet from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. in the morning!

Especially late at night and early in the morning, we can observe from our home the lighted crosses at the top of the Dimnent Memorial Chapel bell tower. It is a source of great comfort and inspiration-a symbol of God's faithfulness, goodness, and graciousness to us in the past and a very relevant symbol of our hope for the future.

James E. Bultman, President