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Presidential Update Winter 2003

To Hope College Alumni and Friends:

A Champion for Hope

As a Christian community, we believe that God speaks to us through His Word and through prayer. He also speaks to us through His children—those Christ-like people He brings into our lives who especially show us how to live life to the fullest. Max Boersma was such a person for so many of us. Rarely has a person in my experience influenced so many in such profoundly positive ways. That influence transcended social and racial boundaries, interest areas, gender and age, and denominational preferences. Max was friend to all. He and his wife of 54 years, Connie Hinga ’49 Boersma, were often on campus. Their morning walks, attendance at Chapel and the Gathering, and presence at sporting and musical events were all part of their daily routine. Their vision and generosity funded the immensely popular Chapel program, which bears their names through the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel.

Max was called home on Friday, January 17, 2003, while doing something he loved to do—playing tennis at the DeWitt Tennis Center on the Hope College campus. A very meaningful memorial service was held in Dimnent Chapel coordinated by his children—Bill, Paul, and Betsy and Tom Jasperse—and grandson Bryan Boersma, all in ministry.

He was a member of both the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the Board and his death has been particularly difficult for the Trustees, as he was preceded in death by Honorary Trustee members Ekdal Buys and Hugh DePree—both within the last year.

Max was unsurpassed in his affection for Hope. We have lost a great champion for the mission of the college. His was a life well lived, and that life made a difference for good. Heaven is now brighter because of Max’s homegoing to be with his Lord and Savior; earth is dimmer because of his absence from us.

Applications—What a Difference a Year Makes

The number of applications to date is exceptional—higher than at any time in our history and up 58 percent from one year ago! Like last year, when we were down 12 percent in applications, we are unsure exactly why we are experiencing this level of interest. Recruiting is not an exact science! Yet, we know that we have introduced new promotional materials, strengthened our calling program, purchased more names for our inquiry pool, become much more electronically capable in the receipt of applications, and generated considerable excitement with campus construction. It is obvious we will not be able to enroll all the prospective students who meet our admissions standards and will need to implement a plan developed a year ago for greater selectivity in acceptance of applicants.

Science Center Construction

The addition to the Peale Science Center is on schedule for a fall 2003 completion. What a marvelous addition it is! Buildings at Hope are built so that students and faculty will be able to perform at the very highest levels. This facility will enable Hope to maintain, even enhance, its national recognition as a model for collaborative student/faculty undergraduate research. Science major applications in general are up over last year, with pre-medical/pre-dental up nearly 100 percent and nursing up over 150 percent.

Legacies: A Vision of Hope

Commitments toward the $105 million Legacies goal have now reached $95 million. How grateful we are for the generous support of so many, even during difficult economic times. Planning for the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication on the former Lincoln Elementary School site and for the DeVos Fieldhouse at the former Western Foundry location have reached the schematic design phase. At the January Board of Trustees meeting, authorization was given to complete the design phase, prepare construction documents, and seek bids for beginning construction later this year. Construction, however, will not begin until funding is totally committed. We remain $6.5 million short on the $10 million Martha Miller Center and $5 million short on the $20 million DeVos Fieldhouse. The development team is working very hard to secure the commitments necessary to allow these projects to move forward on our desired timetable.

Winning—And So Much More!

Our four winter intercollegiate sports teams are off to superb starts. As of this writing in early February, the women’s varsity basketball team is undefeated, the men’s varsity team has lost but three games, and the men’s and women’s swimming teams continue their mastery in the pool. But, there is so much more! At Hope we still subscribe to the pure but quickly vanishing model that coaches as well as players should be well rounded and engaged beyond their sport. We call this the teacher/coach model.

Dr. John Patnott, head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming teams, is also a superb professor in our exercise science program. In fact, this three-time NCAA Division III national Coach of the Year and coach of 102 All-American swimmers was selected this past year to receive, along with psychology Professor Thomas Ludwig, the “Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching” at Hope.

Women’s varsity basketball coach Brian Morehouse is also the director of the Dow Center. He has a very unique coaching arrangement that is so honoring of his father/son relationship. Brian’s father, Dean Morehouse, makes the daily round trip from Fremont (130 miles) to assist with the varsity coaching. Dean’s experience as a long-time high school coach is evident. The obvious mutual respect between the two manifests itself during games, with advice respectfully sought and given. The women’s varsity basketball team seeks a fourth consecutive league championship.

Dr. Glenn Van Wieren, our nation’s eighth winningest active Division III coach, has secured the voluntary manager’s assistance of the popular Robbie Sterken. Robbie always wanted to be associated with Hope basketball, so Glenn recruited him—as a team manager. During his senior year at Holland High School, he received the customary recruiting calls and letters from the coach and made a campus visit, where he met with players and staff over lunch and received a campus tour. What a great addition he has been with his service to the team—wearing his Glenn Van Wieren look-alike navy blazer, orange and blue tie, and khaki pants. With permission, I share that Rob has Down syndrome.


Outstanding faculty are integral to achieving the exceptionality we desire in the academic experience at Hope. It was particularly gratifying, therefore, to tenure six outstanding faculty members at the January Board of Trustees meeting. Tenured were Dr. Maureen Dunn (kinesiology), Dr. Timothy Evans (biology), Dr. Curtis Gruenler (English), Dr. James Kennedy (history), Dr. David Klooster (English), and Dr. Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet (psychology). Individually and collectively, these faculty members are among the most compelling candidates for tenure I have ever experienced. Because of their academic credentials, teaching, scholarship, and commitment to the Christian faith, they become a significant part of the college’s future.

In addition, Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger (religion) was promoted to full professor and named the first recipient of the John and Jeanne Jacobson Endowed Professorship. This endowed chair was established at the time of John’s retirement from Hope and will become effective with the next academic year. Martie and I had the privilege of sharing this good news personally with John and Jeanne during a recent trip to Sarasota, Fla., where they are enjoying retirement and are very engaged in their church and community. We enjoyed the opportunity to be with them and thank them again for the many significant contributions they made to the life of the college during John’s distinguished service as president.

Dance Marathon

The campus community is gearing up for its fourth Dance Marathon—“Giving Hope to Kids.” Many campus organizations, including especially sororities and fraternities, work unselfishly under the leadership of Diana Breclaw, director of student activities, and student chairs Kelly Cleland, Dana Nicholson, and Layne Shoaf. This fundraising nets in excess of $50,000—all given to the DeVos Children’s Hospital to financially support families whose children face life-threatening illnesses. As the event’s name suggests, participants dance non-stop for 24 hours in support of this cause.

Winter Happening

If you want to spend a stimulating morning on campus, make plans now to attend Winter Happening 2004! This year more than 500 people gathered on a cold January Saturday for inspiring seminars taught by Hope faculty. Winter Happening is rapidly becoming the spring semester counterpart to fall’s Homecoming. This year Dr. David Myers shared from his latest book, Intuition: Its Powers and Perils; Dr. John Shaughnessy teased us with his research on memory; Dr. Robert Swierenga’s research capabilities were very evident in his latest book, Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City; Dr. Tom Smith, Dr. Victor Claar, and Professor Vicki TenHaken discussed business ethics taught in the college’s program; Dr. Lynn Japinga and December graduate Jennifer Hill reflected on women’s traditions at Hope; and Dr. George and Professor Roberta Kraft gave musical renditions of their favorite gospel songs.

Guests for Dinner

This year Martie and I have been the invited guests for dinner at Bergen, Kraker, Mast, and Stryker student cottages. What delightful evenings these are for us. You’ve taught them how to cook! And, to converse! We are proud of Hope students. So involved are they in campus and community life—academically, in co-curricular activities, and in service. They are mature, poised, charming, and talented. We just plain like them—for the marvelous ways that God has gifted them, and for their willingness to develop and use these gifts to glorify Him and serve humankind.

Martin Luther King Day

This year’s guest speaker for our annual Martin Luther King Day was Carol Moseley Braun, Esq. Ms. Braun is a former U.S. Senator from Illinois (1992-1998) and United States Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa (1999-2001). She was the first African-American woman ever elected to the United States Senate. Her address, titled, Giving Life to the Declaration of Intent, was very well received.

She was so impressed with Hope students that she said to me as we parted, “You must have the best job in the whole world!” I nodded affirmatively and said, “I believe I do!” Every day is a great day for me. Well, okay, some days aren’t quite as great as others. Martie and I are passionate about Hope, and we feel very privileged to serve the college at this time in her history. Thank you for the joy of being your president.

James E. Bultman, President