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Presidential Update Summer 2001

To Hope College Alumni and Friends:

Dinner with the Philanthropists!

Earlier this year, Hope College was asked to provide a painted mask for The Mask Project to benefit Hospice of Michigan. We were pleased to do so. The department of art recommended Hope sophomore Daniel Berhanemeskel of Ethiopia. (Daniel and Professor Neal Sobania, a specialist in Ethiopian culture, will be working this summer at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. facilitating an exhibit of Ethiopian art. ) Daniel painted a beautiful mask representing his native country, where painting takes on a spiritual dimension. It was intricately done with beautiful, bright colors-an absolute treasure. I was told by officials at the Hospice office that it was the best mask of all.

Martie and I attended the Hospice masquerade dinner and auction, and I was determined to bid on this mask to retain it for Hope College. But, alas, Mrs. Diane Jones, mother of Hope sophomore Eric Jones, told me that she would outbid me and she did! We thought it only appropriate that we link the persons who now own the mask with the artist who painted it. So, we invited Mr. and Mrs. Paul Jones and their son, Eric, for dinner at our home with Daniel. It was a delightful evening. Daniel donated his gift as an artist for a very worthy cause, the Jones family was delighted to acquire the mask, and Hospice of Michigan benefited from their purchase.

But, that's not all. Eric, too, is a philanthropist in his own right. With the cancer death of the mother of his best high school friend, he began a small manufacturing business making refrigerator magnets with scriptural passages on them. These have been sold around the country with all proceeds going to two West Michigan charitable organizations: the Van Andel Institute and DeVos Children's Hospital, both in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Earlier this spring, Hope Trustee David Van Andel recognized Eric for his contributions to the institute.

Dance Marathon

Hope College students, under the leadership of student activities director Diana Breclaw, raised $37,000 through the Dance Marathon for the De Vos Children's Hospital. While this is certainly a fun event for the entire campus community, the best part of all is the student interaction with children facing life threatening illnesses and their families. Teams of dancers danced for 24 straight hours. These teams included students from various organizations including fraternities and sororities, as well as faculty and staff. This event has become a financial, physical, emotional, and spiritual uplift for the campus. James B. Fahner, M.D., Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at De Vos Children's Hospital sent the following letter:

As the Co-chair of the Children's Miracle Network Program Advisory Committee, I want to offer my thanks for the phenomenal dedication, generosity and hard work that your Hope students committed to the recent annual Dance Marathon to benefit DeVos Children's Hospital. Through their vision, creativity and endurance, they far exceeded their original goal by raising a phenomenal $37,291! What an inspiration to all of us and what a credit to your student body and to the spirit of giving at Hope.
As someone on the front lines of caring for many of West Michigan's most seriously ill children and their families, I can assure you that the generosity of your students will touch countless hearts and lives. Their compassion is a shining example of our community's support for Children-they are a true beacon of "Hope!"

Golf with Marv and Hugh

I like golf, though I'm not very good at it. It is a good news/bad news situation with me. The bad news is that I occasionally play when I should be working; the good news is that you can tell by my score that I don't do it very often.

There is one golf match each year that I look forward to very much. It is the match with Marv DeWitt, Hugh DePree, and Bob DeYoung that I particularly enjoy. We call it the DeWitt, DePree, DeYoung, DeBultman outing. This year, our match took place at Hugh's beautiful executive club course in Naples, Florida, where both Hugh and Marv shot their ages. What Bob and I liked best about this outing were the frequent interchanges between two giants in the life of the church, the community, the business world, and Hope College. My favorite conversation between the two went something like this: "Oh, Hugh, you have such a beautiful, smooth swing. I wish mine were like that." And, somewhat later, Hugh to Marv: "Oh, Marv, I wish I could have your strength. You hit the ball so far." The deep appreciation, even admiration, which these two "Zeeland boys" have for each other is very heartwarming. Marv's business career, of course, was at Bilmar Foods-a company which he co-founded and where he was affectionately known as "Mr. Turkey." Hugh was chief executive at Herman Miller, Inc.-an office furniture manufacturing business that is frequently cited as one of America's best companies. Hugh and his wife Pat graciously hosted our wives and us at their lovely home for dinner, where we were joined by Leonard and Marjorie Maas. One of the great joys of my job is the opportunity to be in the presence of so many wonderful people-people whose lives of commitment, service, and stewardship have endeared them to so many. Hope College is blessed to count such people among our faithful alumni and friends.

MIAA All Sports Trophy

For a league-leading twenty-third time, Hope College has won the MIAA Commissioner's Cup for supremacy in intercollegiate sport. Hope was the all-sports leader in both women's and men's intercollegiate sport and also in the combined competition. In eleven different sports this past year, Hope proceeded to NCAA post-season competition.

My point here is not to share the prowess of Hope's coaches and athletes. That has been well established. Rather, I would like to share, with permission, a written comment that should make all of us proud. It came to men's tennis coach Steve Gorno from the mom of an opposing team.

I just wanted to congratulate you on your team's performance at the competition in Indiana this weekend.
It was obvious to all that there was something different about your guys! I was there to watch my son's team and the manner in which your team conducted themselves was outstanding!

I sure wish other coaches could teach the sportsmanship your team demonstrated.

We're a Christian family. I'm really sorry our coaches haven't been able to communicate the need for appropriate sportsmanship. I know when you attend a secular school the values are different. I really saw it this weekend.

Congratulations! You should be proud of your team. I know they're college kids, with all the same faults everyone else has. But this weekend, on the courts in Central Indiana, they were definitely head and shoulders above the rest.

Lunch with Students

It is often my privilege to have lunch with Hope students. There is nothing quite as invigorating for me as seeing the result of a Hope College education in the making. Usually, I just select someone to eat with at random-perhaps looking especially for that student who appears to be lonely or troubled. On one particular day, our director of international education, Neal Sobania, arranged for me to eat lunch with five Hope students who had studied abroad during the fall semester. They were Brett Bebber from Littleton, Colorado (Oxford, England); Suzanne Hekman from Grand Rapids, Michigan (Dominican Republic); Paul Hendricks from Grandville, Michigan (Queretaro, Mexico); Carol Miller from Hickory Corners, Michigan (Mali, West Africa), and Whitney Schraw from Boyne City, Michigan (Jerusalem). What a joy it was for me to listen to them share their experiences!

Increasingly, Hope students desire to spend a semester in one of our off-campus programs. This is truly a beneficial part of their overall collegiate experience. It does come at a price for Hope because we generously continue their on-campus financial aid programs and typically charge no more for off-campus than for on-campus study. Still, as our world gets seemingly smaller every day, with lightning-like communication and convenient travel, it is ever more important that Hope graduates have a better sense of global understanding and goodwill among all peoples of the world.

Fraternities and Sororities at Hope

Occasionally, we read with concern the not-so-pleasant activities of some of the members of our fraternities and sororities. Student behavior is always a matter of concern for us, and we realize all too often that not all students are yet fully refined (and, as a matter of fact, neither are any of us!). Especially in an increasingly litigious society, it is necessary for the college to take every precaution to ensure safety and compliance to reasonable standards of conduct.

Today, I want to share with you that the Greek system at Hope College also contributes significantly to the campus well-being. Most of the time, most of the students, in most of the fraternities and sororities, are well-behaved and contributing citizens to the overall campus life at Hope. They are engaged in many service activities, many fund-raisers for worthy causes, and many wholesome, social activities that contribute to an enjoyable college experience. You should know that I like the Greek system at Hope. I especially like it when they adhere to the guidelines which, in cooperation with us, have been shaped for their own welfare. I have no desire to rid the college of the Greek system nor have I heard any discussion to that effect during the time I have been here. Our goal is to work with the young men and women in these organizations to effect a very good social experience that fits well within the overall mission of the college. When this, indeed, does take place, the Greek system serves a very useful purpose in campus life.

Fund Raising at Hope

June 30 marks the end of our fiscal year. It has been another good year financially for the college, but one tempered considerably by major increases in our energy and medical insurance costs. We remain very grateful for a record number of students, which allows us to effectively and efficiently operate the college at full capacity.

Many of you have contributed generously, some even sacrificially, to Hope this year. Thank you. Each contribution is very important to the financial health of the college. If you have not yet contributed, we would be very grateful to receive your fiscal, year-end gifts that help to keep Hope affordable for talented and deserving students.

Last week, I attended the Michigan Colleges Foundation (MCF) annual Board meeting. Present were the presidents from the 14 member colleges, Foundation Board members from across the state, and several large corporate donors. The foundation collectively seeks gifts for its member institutions rather than having each college individually solicit the corporate sector. Hope annually receives about $100,000 from MCF and has received about $3.5 million cumulatively since 1959.

Unbeknownst to me, the meeting would become special. The music at the luncheon was provided by Meredith Arwady '00. She was introduced by her father, George '69 , who is a member of the Foundation's Board.

During his introduction, George shared that Meredith as a talented vocalist could have attended college most anywhere in the country. After thorough exploration of her options, she chose Hope, where she became ultra-involved in classes and co-curricular activities of all kinds. He indicated she had a marvelous Hope experience. But as a father, he had one nagging concern. Would her major involvement in so many activities hinder her specialty development in music so as to preclude her pursuit of music performance at the very highest level? That concern was not answered until Meredith's senior year. She wanted to pursue opera-at the prestigious Curtis School of Opera in Philadelphia. There were six openings. Six hundred prospective students auditioned. Selected were five students from the Juilliard School of Music and Meredith from Hope College! Needless to say, Meredith left the audience breathless with her luncheon performance.


You are probably already aware that Hope College is the intended recipient of a generous $7.5 million anchor gift from the Richard and Helen De Vos Foundation. It will serve as a catalyst to enable the college to assume a leadership role in addressing, with others, some of the spectator facility needs of Hope College and the Holland community.

Community leaders, including those representing the City of Holland, Holland Christian Schools, Holland Public Schools, and Hope College are in the preliminary stages of exploring the potential impact of this gift on the design and location of a facility that would be owned and operated by Hope College. It would also be available for scheduled use by the entire Holland community. This facility as envisioned would seat approximately 3,500 and be located on the eastern gateway of the campus.

This gift commitment requires a matching component and provides a means of jointly meeting several college and community needs. It stimulates the process which has both exciting and realistic potential.

There are many decisions that need to be addressed including design, location, and funding. This is a project that Hope College cannot and should not complete independently. We look forward to engaging others in determining the feasibility of such a facility that would impact the college and the community in mutually beneficial ways!

The fieldhouse project is in addition to the $85 million capital campaign Legacies: A Vision of Hope which previously was announced. The construction of the new science building and the Martha Miller Center for the departments of modern and classical languages, dance and communication are the exciting cornerstones of this campaign.

Tribute to a Hope Giant

Earlier this spring as Martie and I were leaving a women's softball game, we paused at the south end of the Gordon Brewer track at the Ekdal J. Buys Athletic Complex to note a special plaque. It read simply:


So many memories flooded my mind as I reflected on what Gordon Brewer and others have meant in my own life. I remembered especially an incident that occurred in the spring of 1985. My fondest recollection of sport at Hope did not occur on the playing field; there were no fans, no scoreboards, and no media. There were only two people who experienced it; I've rarely told another.

It was in the spring of 1985; I had just accepted the presidency at Northwestern College in Iowa. My heart was heavy at the thought of leaving the people and place I loved so much. Coach Brewer had earlier that afternoon wrapped up another MIAA championship in track at Buys Field. On an adjacent field I had stolen fleeting glances at the meet amidst my own practice leading up to the MI AA championship in baseball. I knew for me, and soon for Gord, the cheering would be over. As I raked the diamond for one last time, I was alone with my own thoughts. Twilight settled in around me and there remained the silhouette of just one other figure-Brewer -it was Gord Brewer. In an impulse of the moment I dropped my rake and trotted toward him, slowly at first, but then in almost a dead run. I hollered "High five, Brew." Not certain he heard me, I saw him turn and move toward me. We met midway on the track and there in mid-air we hit a resounding "high five." I doubt it was graceful; no one cheered. Two grown men-one about to become a college president, the other near retirement-were acting like a couple of teenage kids. But that instant symbolized for me the true meaning of sport-the thrill of competition shared with a special friend. No other justification was necessary-we played the game because it was fun!


It was a great weekend! Retiring Provost Jacob E. Nyenhuis and faculty member Maura Reynolds gave inspirational Baccalaureate and Commencement addresses respectively. Nearly six hundred students participated in the sun-drenched Commencement ceremony at the Holland Municipal Stadium in early May.

This weekend also included alumni reunions for nearly 1,000 Hope graduates. Alumni Director Lynne Powe did an exceptional job of coordinating these class reunions. I'd like to encourage the reunion classes of 1937, 1942, 1947, 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977 and 1982 to make plans now to attend next year. You won't be disappointed! The opportunity to renew friendships with classmates and professors is a wonderful joy.


Recruiting at Hope is a sophisticated process, but it always begins by identifying students who would both benefit from and contribute to the Hope experience. We recruit best when we envision the individualized effort of recruiting each student-and repeat it 750 times for each freshman class.

Perhaps you know of a student (or students) who would be an especially good match for the challenging Christian liberal arts education offered at Hope College. Please e-mail admissions@hope.edu so that we may begin a relationship with those you recommend.

James E. Bultman, President