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Presidential Update Summer 2004

To Hope College Alumni, Parents and Friends:

Expecting the Exceptional

Our theme for this year was “Expecting the Exceptional.” It was a good theme, an appropriate theme, but even I did not anticipate how exceptional the year would be! As teachers and scholars our faculty performed in exceptional ways. They were aided by a dedicated staff. In student development we enjoyed our best year during my time here by becoming more overtly aligned with our institutional mission. Students and faculty of color became much more a part of the fabric of Hope as we continued to make progress in this important area. An already inspirational spiritual life program became even more vibrant. Financially the college was very well managed, and record gift income is enabling several exciting projects to become reality. Because of all of the above, prospective students and their families tangibly demonstrated in unprecedented numbers their attraction to a Hope College education. In large measure I attribute our good fortune to God’s grace and goodness to us. For that providence which transcends our human efforts, I am most grateful.


The Student Activities Committee, under the very capable leadership of Diana Breclaw, assistant dean for student development, had another outstanding year. There are so many meaningful and fun activities for students that one often needs to choose among several choices on any given evening.

As a small way of saying thank you to so many students who volunteer their services, Martie and I invited the SAC leadership to our home for dinner. Of course we had a most enjoyable time. As the students were leaving, Andrew Meyers, a junior from Churchville, N.Y. (who with Karen Schuen, a senior from Portage, Mich., will co-chair the orientation activities for this fall), inquired about the square baby grand piano sitting neatly in an alcove of the living room. The square baby grand corresponds with the age of the President’s Home (1892), so it has very special meaning for us. We invited Andrew to play a tune to which he promptly responded, “I doubt there have been many Billy Joel songs played on this instrument since it was placed in the President’s Home.” I acceded to that, and Andrew played a joyfully upbeat New York State of Mind to the delight of all present.

Building Projects

During the last week of the academic year, we had groundbreaking ceremonies for both the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication and the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse. These were very meaningful events attended by large numbers of people, especially students. The progress on these buildings is significant, and we look forward to fall 2005 dedications.

During Homecoming this October, we will dedicate the new science center. This has proven to be a marvelous addition to the campus physical plant. We look forward now to the completed renovation of Peale, which will allow full fall access to both the new and renovated portions of this facility. It will enable Hope to do science the Hope way—hands on and collaboratively among students and faculty!

Capital Campaign

The capital campaign, Legacies: A Vision of Hope, is in its final stage, with completion scheduled for December 31, 2004. The goal for the campaign is $105 million, and we will most certainly surpass this before year’s end. It is our desire that every friend of Hope would want to participate as they are able in this transforming effort for endowment and facility expansion. In the event that you would like to contribute, but have not yet been contacted, I invite your communication directly with me. I can assure you that your interest will be addressed immediately.


Hope has received an unprecedented number of applications for the 2004-05 academic year—almost 2,600 applications for 790 spots. There is currently a waiting list of approximately 150 students, and it is very clear that not all students who are fully admissible will be able to enroll. We are very grateful for this interest in Hope, but recognize it comes with a new set of challenges for us.

My advice for students desiring to attend Hope in the fall of 2005 is to apply early since we have a rolling admissions policy. Enclosed you will find a card to share with us your recommendations for the fall of 2005. A strong Hope College is one which enrolls talented students who desire a challenging educational experience in a caring, Christian environment.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant

Hope College has received a very prestigious $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for support of its undergraduate science program. Dr. James Gentile, dean for the natural sciences, authored the grant with assistance from several Hope colleagues. This is the largest programmatic grant in the sciences that Hope has ever received. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute invited 198 public and private baccalaureate and masters institutions to compete for the awards. A panel of distinguished scientists and educators reviewed proposals and recommended 42 awards ranging from $.5 million to $1.6 million. Only Haverford, Union, and Williams colleges were awarded larger grants than Hope. Hope and Kalamazoo were the only Michigan colleges to receive grants.

Hope College has enjoyed an exceptional year in the receipt of external grants. Undergraduate research is a distinguishing feature at Hope and places the college in a very select group of undergraduate institutions that emphasize both teaching and scholarship. Add the Christian dimension and the group becomes almost microscopic. Currently in effect at Hope are more than $12 million in externally funded undergraduate research grants. This is an astounding achievement for an undergraduate institution and is a tribute to a very talented faculty.


Hope has won the Commissioner’s Cup of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) for a record 26th time—the 9th time in the last 11 years and the 19th time in the last 25 years. The Commissioner’s Cup standings are determined using the cumulative standings from the 18 MIAA-sponsored sports for men and women. Hope teams won seven conference championships this past year—men’s golf, football, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming/diving, and men’s and women’s soccer.

The college has also received word from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that the 2005 men’s and women’s national swimming championships for Division III will be hosted by Hope College at the Holland Community Aquatic Center. This will be the third time that Hope has been chosen to host an NCAA national championship. The 1987 Division III men’s and women’s cross country championships were run at the Holland Country Club, and Hope won the national women’s basketball championship at the Holland Civic Center in 1990. This honor is a fitting tribute to the quality of the Holland Community Aquatic Center, the coaching career of Dr. John Patnott, and the sports promotional skills of Mr. Tom Renner, associate vice president for public and community relations and longtime MIAA sports publicist. On three different occasions during his 25-year coaching career at Hope, John Patnott has been named Division III coach of the year.

Alumni Weekend

Alumni Weekend is always special on the college campus. It is when alumni in large numbers return to renew friendships with their classmates and memories of their alma mater. Each year the Alumni Association selects their Distinguished Alumni Award winners. This year’s honorees were Calvin Langejans ’58, Samuel Ndimbo ’69, Norman Thompson ’53, and Gerard ’49 and Eloise Hinkamp ’51 Van Heest. The award is the highest given by the association and is presented to alumni in recognition of the person’s contributions to society and service to Hope. All of these recipients were most worthy. I wish that all of you and our students would have been present to hear their stories. Each one was special. With permission I share the story of Dr. Norman W. Thompson, professor emeritus of surgery at the University of Michigan:

Dr. Thompson applied to three institutions for his undergraduate education. He was accepted at Princeton, encouraged by his pastor to attend Hope, and was waiting for an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. After much deliberation he chose Hope.

As he entered Lubbers Hall for his first chemistry class, Professor J. Harvey Kleinheksel greeted him by name (it was Kleinheksel’s practice to put faces with names prior to meeting his students for the first time). Rather startled but appreciative of this greeting, Norm thought he had made a good choice. But, just five days into the semester, he received a call from his New Jersey Congressman with an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Norm was told, “You have three days to accept or reject.” Jokingly he responded, “Where were you when I needed you?” The Congressman responded that he could not make the appointment until Thompson had turned 17. Again, after deliberation, Thompson chose Hope—a decision he considers one of the most important he ever made.

After three years at Hope, Professor Kleinheksel indicated that Norm should make application to the University of Michigan for medical school. He proceeded to Ann Arbor in hopes of meeting with the dean of admissions of the medical school. The dean’s secretary said, “Let me see what I can do for you.” After meeting with the dean for a brief time, she returned and told Norm that he had been admitted. When asked how this could happen, she simply responded, “The dean said that even though you are a New Jersey resident, you are from Hope College and well recommended and, therefore, we will take you.” Norman W. Thomspon went on to a very distinguished career in endocrine surgery. It is interesting to note that contemporaries Dr. Norman Thompson and Dr. George Zuidema ’49 both have endowed chairs established in their names at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Town-Gown a Win-Win

The Phelps Scholars Program is part of our Comprehensive Plan to Improve Minority Participation at Hope. This program, so ably led by Dr. Charles Green, professor of psychology, is designed for students who wish to immerse themselves in cultural and racial diversity. Students live together in Scott Hall and participate in many activities together, including field trips to museums and other events in major cities.

Each year Martie and I like to have this group of approximately 50 students in our home for dessert and conversation. This year when I asked the students what they liked best about their experience so far at Hope, one of the students replied, “the way the college community meshes with the city of Holland.” This was affirming because it is something we work very hard at achieving. I am so grateful to city officials and members of the community for their interest in Hope and its well being. The college, likewise, maintains a keen interest in the health of the city. It is likely that this healthy town-gown relationship has been in existence since our foundings in the mid-nineteenth century.

I have often said that what is good for the city of Holland is good for Hope and vice-versa—and I mean it. Unlike most liberal arts colleges that are located in more isolated areas on the periphery of a city, Hope is a downtown campus. Although this presents some challenges for us, it is mostly advantageous. Downtown Holland is a wonderful place for our students to shop and “hang out” in restaurants and coffee shops. In many respects it is like a second student center. Of course, Hope provides many opportunities for the citizens of this community as well. Events like concerts, plays, art exhibits, dance performances, lectures, athletic contests, and visiting scholars and artists are available to the community at little or no cost. Holland is a wonderful place to live, work, play, and retire. There is no place we would rather have Hope located than in Holland, Michigan, and we trust the community feels there is no college they would rather have located in Holland than Hope.

Improving Minority Participation

Hope is vigorously pursuing its goal to increase racial and ethnic diversity on our campus. This carries with it many initiatives—in enrollment, scholarships, hiring, curriculum, and programs like Children’s After School Achievement (CASA), Higher Horizons, Upward Bound, Project TEACH, and the aforementioned Phelps Scholars Program. We willingly expend approximately $2.5 million each year in this effort. Good progress is being made, although somewhat more slowly than we would like. Our goal is to enrich the educational experience for minority and majority students alike.

One of our initiatives is to bring minority role models to the campus as speakers and lecturers. This past fall we brought the president of Palo Alto College, Dr. Ana Guzman, to campus as part of our Caesar Chavez series. For the Martin Luther King Day celebration, the Rev. Dr. Glen Missick, executive director of the African American Council for the Reformed Church in America, delivered the keynote address. This spring Dr. Wynetta Devore ’51 returned to her alma mater as the keynote speaker for the “Women of Color Celebration.” She was one of the college’s first students of color. In late February the Rev. Dr. Carolyn Holloway, minister of DeWitt Reformed Church of Manhattan, gave a superb sermon at the Sunday evening Gathering. She also was the Baccalaureate speaker on Commencement Sunday.

The campus community is so blessed to have such rich opportunities for learning, understanding, and inspiration.

Tuition Grant Funding

As Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s budget proposal to slash Tuition Grant funding works its way through both the House and the Senate, there has not been even a single vote in support of it. In an overwhelming show of bipartisan support, there is every indication that the Tuition Grant funding that supports needy students attending Michigan independent higher education institutions will be fully preserved. For this we are very grateful.

Hope Students

There are 58 official organizations on the Hope College campus. On occasion I am asked to bring a brief message for some of their events. As a Fraternal Society alumnus, I am periodically asked to speak at one of the society’s literary meetings. In preparation for my latest appearance, I reread the most recent Fraternal Footsteps, the society publication. In the lead article, Frater Michael Zeilstra challenged his brothers by stating that, “Being a Frater is all about being the best, and being the best includes making those around you better.”

I could not help but reflect on the many organizations on the Hope campus that take this kind of theme seriously. Sororities, fraternities, and many other organizations spend countless hours on campus, in the Holland community, throughout the nation, and indeed throughout the world in helping others.

You and I and all of us together know that these organizations are not perfect. But, they are overwhelmingly positive in their outreach of service to others—helping those less fortunate in marvelous, oftentimes unknown ways. I am very proud of them, as I know you are, for the wonderful work they do to make ours a better world.

And More!

Recently I returned to my office to a waiting phone call. Secretary Mary Wilson asked if I knew a Mr. Jim Kelly. I responded, “Only the former quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.” “No,” she said, “This Jim Kelly is special counsel at the White House.” I took the call!

Mr. Kelly said this was an unusual call but one that he was pleased to make. He wanted me to know that White House intern Katherine Helmer, a Hope junior from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who was on our Washington Semester program, was the consensus “best” of all the interns serving the Bush administration. He indicated she was “bright, a joy to be around, and just gets it right all the time.”

Finally, I received this letter which I reprint with permission.

Dear Dr. Bultman,

Just a note to let you know Hope students are wonderful. They took Tuesday, a whole day of their spring break, to come to Warm Friend*. They played pool, decorated cookies, and had an auction. We used play money to bid. We all had a great time, such fun. Saturday we are going out for breakfast. So good to be with young people.

You can be proud to be president of Hope College. As in the past, Hope students will be great citizens of our country. Go Hope!

A Warm Friend,

Bernice Derkson
*Warm Friend is a retirement community in Downtown Holland.

Martie and I realize full well that we occupy privileged roles at Hope. The achievements of Hope students are our greatest joy. I do not go home at night worried about what Hope students might do that would dishonor themselves, their families, or the college. Rather, we anticipate what Hope students will next do to make us very proud. We are rarely disappointed. We look forward to the future with great confidence, knowing that Hope students will be the instruments through whom God accomplishes His purposes. As alumni, parents, and friends of Hope, I trust you, too, can share in this joy!

James E. Bultman, President