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Presidential Update Summer 2008

To Hope College Alumni, Parents, and Friends:

The 2007-08 academic year will most certainly be recorded as one of the most gratifying years at Hope College. Amidst a very positive campus spirit, student, staff, and faculty achievements were considerable. We are making good progress on our strategic themes, enrollment is very strong, and finances are on target with projections. I find myself looking at our various metrics and saying, “What’s not to like about Hope?” We are thankful to our Trustees for their leadership and to our constituency for their support. And, we acknowledge with gratitude that God has blessed the efforts of the Hope community in ways beyond what we have deserved or expected.

How should we measure success? One way would be to identify this year’s accomplishments relative to our mission, which is to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith.

Another would be to identify our achievements relative to the four broad dimensions of student development: intellectual, spiritual, social, and physical. Let’s look at each in turn.


  • Hope continues to be ranked a top-tier national liberal arts college.

  • Once again, Hope’s faculty has met its annual average of 25 books published and 200 articles printed in refereed journals—many of these articles are co-authored by students.

  • So far this year, Hope faculty and staff have submitted 82 proposals for external funding and have received 26 external grants totaling $2,603,419. Forty-five grant applications totaling $5,873,154 are still pending.

  • Again this year, Hope has received more NSF undergraduate research grants than any other liberal arts college in the country. In addition, another prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant has been awarded in the sciences ($1.4 million; 48 institutions nationwide received the HHMI).

  • One hundred eighty-three (183) students and fifty-one (51) faculty members were engaged in meaningful collaborative undergraduate research last summer—a most unusual number for an undergraduate institution.

  • Dr. Debra Swanson, professor of sociology, received the John F. Schnabel Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award from the North Central Sociological Association.

  • A total of 294 students and their faculty mentors displayed 168 projects at the seventh annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance in DeVos Fieldhouse.

  • Hope’s Department of Education tied for the top spot in the state for its teacher preparation program.

  • Retiring Dean Nancy Miller received the Lakeshore ATHENA Award for women’s leadership and also the Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Award from the Michigan chapter of the American Council on Education (ACE).

  • Three Hope seniors have been awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for excellence in science—Kristin Dittenhafer (Midland, Mich.), Jonathan Moerdyk (Paris, Mich.), and Amy Speelman (Darien, Ill.). Other colleges who received as many as three were DePauw, Harvard, Princeton, Rhodes, Stanford, and Yale. I’m sure they think they’re in good company with Hope!!

  • Hope has for the fifth time in 10 years received a grant for Beckman Scholars. (Hope is the “poster child” on this one—the only college in the country to have received the grant the maximum number of five times in a 10-year period.)

  • Hope College is one of only a dozen colleges and universities nationwide and the only undergraduate liberal arts college in the country to be selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to implement a new genomics course that will involve incoming freshmen in cutting-edge research during their first semester in college. Biology professor Aaron Best will be directing Hope’s participation and will be teaching the two-semester course.

  • Geology and Environmental Science Professor Edward Hansen received a Fulbright Award to study in Sweden this fall learning research techniques in support of his ongoing investigation of the movement of sand dunes along the southeastern coast of Lake Michigan during the past 5,000 years.


  • Students fill Dimnent Chapel to overflowing four days each week—in voluntary attendance at Chapel services!

  • At three times the average of Hope’s peers nationally, Hope students developed a deepened sense of spirituality during their college years. Many view Hope as one of the great mission stations of the Reformed Church in America.

  • A $2.5 million Lilly-funded CrossRoads effort is designed to infuse the campus community with explorations and opportunities in Christian vocations.

  • Three hundred to 400 students participate in one of approximately 20 spring break mission trips throughout the country and abroad—at their own expense!

  • Innumerable Bible study groups meet throughout the year in Hope’s several residence halls.

  • At the last Sunday evening “Gathering” of the academic year in an overflowing Dimnent Chapel, all of the senior students cut their own “rope of Hope” from a giant rope which stretched through the aisles of the chapel. Dean of the Chapel Trygve Johnson completed his series on the Cloud of Witnesses theme. He also unveiled a poignant painting by artist Joel Tanis which symbolically shows two students, August accident victims Sam Meengs and Karen Linder, in the front pew about to join the great Cloud of Witnesses.


  • The annual Dance Marathon fund- and friend-raising event at Hope includes over 800 participants and has donated more than $0.75 million to DeVos Children's Hospital during the last six years.

  • Students raised over $50,000 this year for the American Cancer Society during their Relay for Life event.

  • The Children's After School Achievement Program (CASA) matches 135 Hope students with at-risk third to fifth graders in on-campus tutoring sessions four days a week.

  • Students volunteer as tutors in Hope’s federally funded Upward Bound Program and also with programs organized by Latin Americans United for Progress.

  • Director of Multicultural Education Vanessa Greene received the Phyllis Scott Activist Award at the Giants Banquet and Awards Ceremony in Grand Rapids.

  • Hope is a finalist in the Michigan Campus Compact 2008 Carter Partnership Service Award for its Cameroon water purification initiative involving the Department of Engineering (Engineers Without Borders), the Department of Nursing, and the Department of Education interdisciplinary research team.

  • Hope theatre’s Rose and the Rime, written by Hope students and guest artist Nathan Allen and performed by Hope students at the DeWitt Center main theatre, by invitation at the regional festival in Milwaukee, and subsequently at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., was arguably the best full-length play in the country at the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF) National Festival. The University of Oklahoma and the University of Alabama were the other two finalists.

  • For the third consecutive year, Hope College has been selected as one of West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.


  • The college has launched a very successful and often-modeled incentives-based wellness program for all faculty and staff.

  • Hope has won eight consecutive MIAA Commissioner’s Cup Awards for supremacy in intercollegiate sport.

  • Both the men's and women's basketball teams were ranked first in the country among the 420 members of NCAA Division III at the conclusion of the regular season.

  • MIAA championships have been garnered in football, men’s golf, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and men’s swimming and diving.

  • Hope student athletes Kylee Brouwer (softball), Ryan Nelis (swimming), John Pelton (tennis), Brittaney Reest (swimming), Dan Tresslar (soccer), Marcus Vanderheide (basketball), Doug VanEerden (football), and Tommy Yamaoka (golf) were named MIAA MVPs in their respective sports. Jordyn Boles (basketball), Kylee Brouwer, Phil Heyboer (swimming), Brandon King (swimming), Nora Kuiper (track), Lindsay Lange (track), Christina Lis (track), Ryan Nelis, Brittaney Reest, Matt Rose (swimming), and Marcus Vanderheide were named All Americans.

  • Hope hosted the Women’s Division III Final Four at DeVos Fieldhouse.

  • Men’s basketball coach Glenn VanWieren and club hockey coach Chris Van Timmeren were named national coach of the year in their respective sports.

  • More than 1,000 students are involved in intramurals, with another 400 participating in 18 intercollegiate sports sponsored by the college.

Life is full of competitive situations, and there is no dearth of competition in higher education. I like that! When things are going well as they are now, my responsibility is to guard our team against complacency and keep us focused on what will make us even better. This is my current passion. We are good, but we’re not so good that we can rest on our laurels. There are many challenges that face us during these difficult national and international times; higher education and Hope are certainly not immune to them.

Still, I like our position and our “package.” There are very few colleges that can match the overall worth of the Hope College educational experience. Hope provides the entire “package.” We educate unwaveringly for the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. This we do with the utmost integrity by charging even less than what it costs to deliver the experience. May God continue to bless us in abundance as we strive to more fully fulfill our mission.

I have been on probably 300 different college campuses as a student athlete, coach, professor, dean, and president. I honestly believe that no one does it better than Hope on the four major dimensions of intellectual, spiritual, social, and physical development. I say with integrity to those who would join the Hope family, “If you want to be part of a grand tradition—exceptionality in academics, superiority in intercollegiate sport and co-curricular activities, and excellence in character and Christian faith development—align with Hope. It will positively influence your life for this time and for eternity.


Hope has a beautiful campus. Guests continually remind us that our eclectic collection of historic and modern buildings and manicured grounds are appreciated.

A campus like ours deserves to be maintained. Each year we budget approximately $2.5 million to address roofing, painting, furniture, equipment, plumbing, electrical, and safety issues. This year Kollen Hall is getting a major interior facelift. We are also moving forward with the adaptive restoration of Graves Hall. This is a costly ($5.5 million) but necessary project that is preserving and making handicap accessible one of Hope’s most treasured facilities. Oh yes, it was built in 1892 for $40,000!

We also had the privilege this spring to dedicate new baseball and softball stadiums. The softball stadium is named in honor of Tom and Karla Wolters while the press box is named in honor of our longtime colleague Dr. Anne Irwin, former coach, kinesiology professor, and women’s athletic director. The baseball stadium is named in honor of longtime volunteer assistant coach Ron Boeve and his wife Sunny, while the press box there is named in honor of Norm (Bunko) Japinga, our former equipment manager and current transportation assistant.


College presidents are frequently asked about enrollment. I’m pleased to report that our enrollment for next year will be at capacity once again at 3,000 on-campus students for the fall semester. We received 2,950 applications for 800 freshman spots. We have the luxury of a wait list of approximately 250 qualified students who would yet like to matriculate at Hope. The composite high school GPA will be 3.79 with an average ACT exceeding 26. Thanks to all of you who shared student names with us and encouraged talented students to consider Hope.

Tuition, Room, Board, and Activity Fee

The Trustees approved the following schedule of student charges for the 2008-09 academic year:

Tuition $24,780
Room $3,490
Board $4,160
Activity Fee $140
Total $32,570

The total represents a 4.7 percent increase over charges for the 2007-08 academic year, and for the third consecutive year is far below the national average. Our pricing has been encouraged by our Trustees and is enabled by several non-academic stewardship measures implemented by our finance team. Our desire, through pricing and financial aid, is to keep a Hope College education affordable for all who desire to study here.


We continue to aggressively pursue our strategic plan for increasing minority and international enrollment at Hope. Attending conferences which feature “best practices,” hosting a variety of events on our campus, and implementing new strategic initiatives in recruiting and campus life are making a difference. Retention is excellent. Never before in my 23 years as a college president have I seen students of color and international students as happy as they have been at Hope the past two years. They have felt wanted, and their involvement has become part of the celebrated fabric of Hope.

Sustainability Task Force

In response to recent faculty discussions and actions, I have established a Campus Sustainability Task Force to complement work already undertaken and to advance several initiatives in our strategic plan. Essentially, we want to explore and implement additional measures to make Hope a more environmentally friendly campus.

The task force membership is representative of the entire campus and is chaired by Greg Maybury, director of operations and technology, and Steve Bouma-Prediger, chair of the Department of Religion and former member of the Board of Trustees.

You Can Help Hope!

In this issue of the update I always ask for your assistance in recommending students for the Hope experience. Our recent successes in admissions are directly attributable to those who take the time to recommend talented students for Hope. Thank you for using the enclosed card to assist with this process.

The college's fiscal year ends on June 30. We are dependent on gifts large and small from alumni and friends to keep a Hope education affordable. Your generosity does make a difference, and so I invite, even encourage, you to send a gift to the Hope Fund, Hope College, P.O. Box 9000, Holland, MI 49422-9000 or give a gift on-line by visiting the Hope fund web site, www.hope.edu/hopefund. Thank you!

Faculty and Staff

I am so pleased with Hope’s faculty and staff. Our faculty is talented and committed to the mission of the college and especially to their interaction with students. Likewise, our staff is dedicated to facilitating the teaching-learning enterprise. Recently, one of our competitors said that Hope is “clicking on all cylinders.” My response was, “That’s the way it’s supposed to be—trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends all working together providing exciting, memorable, life-changing experiences for the students we so much cherish.”

Hope is very special, even unique in higher education. The extent of research and scholarship as a complement to teaching is noteworthy. To combine this challenging intellectual dimension with so many opportunities for spiritual development is at the heart of what we do. Socially and physically we also attempt to develop students in ways that will enable them to perform well over an entire lifetime in a world that increasingly requires global understanding and diplomacy. To such a noble calling we pledge ourselves anew.

James E. Bultman, President