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Presidential Update Winter 2001
To Hope College Alumni and Friends:
It is appropriate to share some thoughts with you as we enjoy the second semester of this academic year. There is a distinct rhythm to college life. It never ceases to amaze me how eager students are to leave campus for their homes during holidays and mid-semester recesses. That is good. It is also very apparent that students are eager to return to the campus from those vacations. This, too, is good. At any rate, we are pleased to have the students on campus. Hope is at its best when alive and well with the sights and sounds of college-age youth. It simply isn't as much fun around here without them!
This year's Christmas Vespers was once again an inspirational joy for participants and audiences alike. The department of music, under the able leadership of Professor Brad Richmond, director of choral activities and coordinator of the Vespers program, gave four sold out performances in Dimnent Chapel. This year's Vespers was special in that Hope, in cooperation with television station WGVU, significantly enhanced the technical video quality for national distribution. If you were not physically present and did not see it on your local television station, you can purchase a videotape of Vespers from the Hope-Geneva Bookstore.
God Is On Our Side
As a college president, I attend many meetings. Most are productive, but I must confess that some cause me a bit of anxiety. Typically, this is true when I rub shoulders with college presidents from more prestigious institutions with significantly larger endowments and many more physical resources. In moments of doubt I often ask myself, "How can we compete favorably?" It is not unlike the feeling I used to get at MIAA Press Day when, as a defensive secondary football coach at Hope, I would listen to opposing coaches share how great their quarterbacks and receivers were. I often wondered if we would win even a single game! But, in my more reflective moments, I am drawn to my favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:6. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Amidst our daily striving to be the very best that we can be, this is a comforting passage which reminds me that God is on our side. That is our very real advantage! He works through people, and I am surrounded at Hope by talented and committed Trustees, faculty, staff, and students. Yes, if we are faithful and draw nigh unto Him, He will be faithful in drawing nigh unto us.
Senior Staff Searches
I am in the process of chairing three staff searches that will have major implications for the future of Hope College. These are assignments I do not take lightly. We continue in the search for Bob De Young's successor as vice president for college advancement. The urgency of this is tempered somewhat by Bob's willingness to continue on a part time basis. Still, we press forward to discover the person of God's choosing for this important assignment.
You are also aware that our former dean of the chapel, the Reverend Ben Patterson, has transitioned to his new assignment at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. We are very pleased that the Reverend Dr. Timothy Brown, the Henry Bast Professor of Preaching at Western Theological Seminary, has consented to serve on a part-time, interim basis during his spring semester sabbatical from the seminary. This transition has gone very well, and we are already seeing God's marvelous presence continue in a vital Chapel program. We are confident that the person chosen for this assignment will be able to build on an already vibrant spiritual life dimension at Hope.
Finally, we are fully engaged in the search for a provost to assume the responsibilities left by Dr. Jacob Nyenhuis when he retires on June 30, 2001. Jack announced his retirement in late November and will be completing 25 years of academic administration at Hope, including the past 17 years as the college's chief academic officer. He has left a legacy indelibly imprinted on virtually every phase of academic life at Hope. He will be missed both personally and professionally by all those who have been privileged to know him during these many years. Position descriptions are posted on Hope's web site at www.hope.edu/admin/hr/posting.html.
Should you have candidates you would like to nominate for these important positions, you may do so by writing to me at Hope College or e-mailing me at email@example.com.
Comprehensive Plan to Improve Minority Participation at Hope
Many of you may remember Hope as a place where only on a rare occasion would you see a person without blonde hair and blue eyes. This is no longer the case. The visible face of Hope is changing. We are currently operating under a 31-point plan titled the Comprehensive Plan to Improve Minority Participation at Hope. This is an initiative requiring considerable effort and, yes, financial resources. This initiative is one of the many positive legacies from the Jacobson era and one of the most important of all. We are proceeding with some evidences of success. This past year, nearly nine percent of our incoming freshman class was American minority. In the past two years, we have hired more faculty and staff of color than ever before. It is now possible, even likely, that you will notice a minority presence on our campus. From recruiting to scholarships to campus programs, we are making a concerted effort.
Dr. Charles E. Booth, pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, was the featured speaker in a nearly full Dimnent Chapel during our annual Martin Luther King Day remembrance service. Earlier this month, Dr. G. Oliver Patterson, professor of education at City College of New York and a member of the Jamaica Reformed Church, delivered the keynote address in conjunction with our Black History Month commemoration. Also this month, we continued our faculty/staff education by having Dr. Carlos Cortes on our campus working with our staff on diversity training.
Finally, we hosted a day-long Summit on Racism for Ottawa County. The fall leadership portion of the Summit preceded this with workshop leader Rachelle Hood-Phillips, the person given most credit for the dramatic turnabout of the Denny's Restaurant franchise in the face of racism charges.
Student surveys at Hope indicate that there is a very strong desire for more racial and cultural diversity. And, studies at the University of Michigan, University of Maryland, and Harvard, among others, are unequivocally indicating that education is enhanced, not only for minority students but also majority students, when a campus is more fully integrated. We are not so much trying to mold minorities into the majority way of thinking as to be enriched by their cultures as they are assimilated into the fabric of this wonderful place we call Hope. Assistant Provost Alfredo Gonzales and Assistant Dean/Multicultural Life and Liaison to the President for Minority Participation D. Wesley Poythress have major responsibilities for implementing our plans.
Athletes at Hope
Soon after Christmas break, I joined two male Hope students for lunch in Phelps Hall. We were nearly finished before it dawned on me that one of them, Marcus Voss, was a superb athlete at Hope-the goalie on our very successful soccer team. How interesting, I thought, that I wasn't more aware of this. Unlike many Division I athletes (The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values by Bowen and Shulman), athletes at Hope eat in the same cafeteria as other students, live in the same residence halls, meet the same admissions standards, and receive no preferential treatment on scholarships. They are just regular students! My conversation with Marcus and his roommate, David Hoeker, centered on the typical things that concern students-their classes, upcoming papers and tests, relationships with others, and their campus activities. I'm so pleased that Hope operates this way as opposed to the alternative where athletes expect and are given special privileges. It is refreshing, wholesome, and maintains the integrity of sport. At Hope, student-athletes are not paid to play. Rather, they actually pay for the privilege of participating!
Such was the message I conveyed when Coach Glenn Van Wieren asked me to write a recruiting letter to one of his top basketball prospects. In my letter to this talented student-athlete, I could guarantee an exceptional educational experience in a caring, Christian environment. I could also commend to him the privilege of quality time with a coach for whom I have the highest regard-a person who would become his mentor and lifelong friend.
Dr. Van Wieren will influence his life at Hope in positive ways beyond his or his parents' fondest expectations. But, he will not get an athletic scholarship at Hope. Rather, like every other student he will have to pay to attend. Would it be possible to obtain a college degree elsewhere for less money, perhaps on an athletic scholarship? Yes, it would. But, after already expending hundreds of thousands of dollars in raising a child to college age, might it not be worth it to spend a few thousand more to enhance the probability of the best possible collegiate experience? I think so. Knowing Glenn Van Wieren and our other coaches as I do, I believe it would be an investment never regretted. It would be an investment that would ensure development along intellectual, spiritual, social, and physical dimensions and one that would build on the sure foundation established in the homes of so many of our students.
One of the major decisions that the Board of Trustees makes at their January meeting is pricing for tuition, room, and board for the next academic year. Our Board has approved a 4.8 percent increase for the 2001-2002 academic year. While this is a larger increase than we would like and more than last year's 3.9 percent increase, it still is below last year's national average increase of 5.2 percent. Relative to our peer institutions in the Great Lakes Colleges Association, Hope continues to be about $3,000 less than the next lowest priced institution.
Four factors converged in giving us considerable pause in our pricing for next year. First, our natural gas costs have quadrupled. Second, we anticipate our medical insurance will increase by roughly 17 percent next year. Third, our attrition from fall to spring was somewhat higher than in previous years primarily because of the increased numbers of December graduates, fewer new students enrolling for the second semester, a somewhat smaller retention from the first to second semester, and twice as many students in off-campus study programs. Finally, the decline in the stock market has negatively influenced operational monies from our endowment. All of these factors together made us more cautious about our present and future financial condition. Still, the largest single increase in our budget for next year will be increased financial aid for students. We are so very grateful for many donors who, even within this past year, have given significant gifts for student scholarship aid.
The Board expressed gratitude for the progress in our capital campaign Legacies: A Vision of Hope. Generous commitments now total $58 million. But, the most difficult dollars of our $85 million goal remain to be raised. This will present a significant challenge for us. The Board concurred with the administrative recommendation to defer construction until projects are more fully funded. To do otherwise would not be as fiscally prudent as we need to be.
Department of Physics and Engineering
The department of physics and engineering has enjoyed an exceptional year. I have previously shared with you that our engineering major has received national accreditation with very high marks of commendation. Two members of the faculty and one student received prestigious individual honors. Department chair Dr. Paul De Young was named the "Undergraduate Research Professor and Mentor of the Year" by the American Physical Society. And, Dr. Peter Jolivette, Hope professor for 25 years, was named a "Fellow" by the American Physical Society, an award reserved for exceptional career contributions in the field. Finally, Dan Lappenga, a Hope College junior from Holland, was awarded the 2000 "Barbara Lotze Scholarship for Future Teachers" from the American Association of Physics Teachers, a national award normally awarded to one recipient per year.
The department continues to engage in collaborative faculty/student research often funded by external agencies. In this regard, we are very pleased to announce that Dr. Janice Pawloski has received a major grant from NASA in support of her research into how material destined for space handles changes in temperature.
Washington Honors Semester Program
Professor Jack Holmes is leading the Washington Honors Semester program this year and coordinating the internships and academic seminar experiences for 25 Hope students. While I was attending the annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C., Jack invited me to participate in their evening seminar. This was a delightful experience for me, interacting with very talented young women and men who have a particular interest in political science. Brian Sutter, a junior from Midland, Michigan, was the seminar leader for this night and made a superb presentation on the anticipated foreign policy of the new administration. I was impressed with Brian's insights and the thoughtful questions of other students.
The talent pool at Hope runs very deep. I continue to feel very privileged to serve an institution where members joyfully engage in intellectual development, spiritual formation, and meaningful service. Truly, God has blessed Hope College. For your part in sustaining, even enhancing, this treasure, I often give thanks.
Rich made my day! It had been a long week of travel and then some unpleasant issues to address upon my return. I had a mountain of work remaining, so I went to the office early Saturday morning. With no interruptions, I made good progress. But, I was tired. I had rehashed the events of the previous day for most of the night. Before going home for lunch and then to the women's basketball game, I went to the Dow Center for a workout-more to stay healthy and relieve some tension than to enjoy it. Just when I was leaving the locker room, Rich came in. Now a grown man, I first knew Rich as a special needs young man from the community when I was coaching at Hope. "Hi, Jim. It's good to see you!" he said. Then, looking me squarely in the eye, he added, "It's always good to see you."
There was no "President," "Dr.," "Professor," or "Coach" Bultman--just "Jim." I was "Jim" to Rich, and it felt good! Rich wasn't the wisest person I met that day nor was he the wealthiest or the most attractive--but he was the best!
That's the way it is in life. I learned it a long time ago from Martie's special education students. God uses all of His children--regardless--to make life meaningful. For me on this day, Rich was specially gifted like no other!
James E. Bultman, President