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Presidential Update Fall 2008

To Hope College Alumni, Parents, and Friends:

It is with joy that I report a very smooth beginning to the 2008-09 academic year. This is a tribute to so many people on campus who prepared for the arrival of approximately 875 students who are new to Hope. A special word of commendation is extended to Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students Richard Frost and his staff, who spend enormous amounts of time to ensure that students get off to a very good start at Hope. This year's student orientation leaders were Anna Finger and Doug Fujawa. In addition, approximately 150 students gave up their final week of vacation to return to campus and assist with the arrival of our new students.

Dr. John Cox, the DuMez Professor of English, delivered a very thoughtful and compelling convocation address titled Where Do We Go from Here? A 1967 Hope graduate, John has spent virtually his entire academic career at Hope College.


Most everyone interested in the college wants to know about enrollment. I am very pleased to report that under the leadership of first-year Vice President for Admissions Bill Vanderbilt and his staff, and with the assistance of so many others on Hope’s campus, we have a record enrollment. Our enrollment goal is to have a full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment of 3,000 students on campus to begin the fall semester. Because we enroll some part-time students and many others study in off-campus programs, our plan allows for this year’s overall enrollment of 3,238 students. Once again, the interest in Hope necessitated a wait list for freshmen and also, for the first time, a wait list for transfers. We are very grateful that despite the economic downturns nationally and especially in the state of Michigan, interest in Hope remains very strong. The freshman class has an academic profile similar to recent years with an average high school GPA of 3.79 and an average ACT score of slightly over 26.

The biggest challenge we faced this year with our enrollment was housing. Sixty more senior students than in recent years wanted to live in college housing. Through some leasing efforts, we were able to accommodate all of our students, but the need for on-campus housing is a challenge that will need to be addressed in the very near future. Unlike other western Michigan colleges and universities, Hope is very much a residential campus. Approximately 85 percent of Hope’s students live in college-owned or college-leased housing.

Summer Construction

Typically, the college does have considerable construction taking place during the summer months, and this year was no exception. Kollen Hall was renovated this summer and included new energy-efficient windows and lighting, new room furniture, and general interior redecoration. When students returned to campus, they quickly labeled their new space “Hotel Kollen.” Having lived there for four years myself, this hotel-like thought never crossed my mind!

Voorhees Hall, built in 1907, received a new roof and continues to be a major residence hall.

Through the generosity of a Trustee and the skill of his spouse as an interior decorator, the president’s home was redecorated for the first time in nearly 25 years. Martie and I consider it a privilege and major convenience to live on campus in such close proximity to students and all of the college events. When some of the Trustees suggested that the house needed some updating and that a couple of things looked quite tired and needed to be replaced, Martie and I looked in the mirror! Subsequently, a couple pieces of furniture have been replaced, but mostly the redecoration included carpeting, drapes, paint, wallpaper, and re-upholstery. The president’s home remains a showpiece for campus visitors, and we hope that many of you will have an opportunity to tour this historic home on one of your visits to campus.

This summer we also experienced a campus disruption with the city infrastructure improvements on 12th Street. This was a bit of an inconvenience, but most of the street that runs through the campus is now finished, including the block between Colombia and Lincoln, which the City of Holland agreed to vacate as a pedestrian-only walkway for the college. The City also plans to do the same for 11th Street in the near future, leaving us with six major blocks in the heart of campus that will be largely free from vehicular traffic.

Finally, Graves Hall is now under major restoration with a completion date scheduled for the summer of 2009. This is a very expensive project ($5.7 million) but one that is overdue in preserving the integrity of this magnificent building. We are eager for you to see the transformation that is taking place and that ultimately will restore this historic building to its original grandeur.


One of the primary distinctives of a Hope College education is the extensive amount of undergraduate research that takes place among students and faculty. Much of the funding comes from the National Science Foundation in the area of undergraduate science education where Hope is a recognized leader of national reputation. Since my last presidential update, several faculty members have received major grants, including Dr. Aaron Best, biology ($117,000); Dr. Chris Barney, biology ($250,000); Dr. Matt DeJongh, computer science ($235,000); and Dr. Moses Lee, chemistry ($399,000)—all from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Nathan Tintle, mathematics, received a grant of $193,000 from the National Institutes of Health; and Dr. Roger Veldman, engineering ($110,000), and Dr. Graham Peaslee, chemistry ($149,000), received grants from the Department of Homeland Security. All include provision for student researchers to work with faculty mentors.

Interestingly, because of the funding source for Professors Veldman’s and Peaselee’s grants, several of us at the college, including the president and provost, had to undergo security checks and clearance. As I was at the courthouse getting fingerprinted and having a mug shot taken, Provost Boelkins arrived for his. We were both glad that no reporters or photographers were there to sensationalize a “scoop” to the Holland Sentinel!


Several Hope students and faculty members received significant recognitions at the conclusion of the 2007-08 academic year. Six recent Hope graduates received fellowships to teach English abroad, including four through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. These are magnificent opportunities, especially in a global society. The students are:

    1. Alexander Behm, a 2008 graduate, received a Fulbright award to teach in Germany. Alexander is a German major from Ann Arbor.

    2. Brianne Carpenter, a 2008 graduate, received a fellowship from the French government to teach in the region of Nantes on the west coast. She is an English and French double major from Midland.

    3. Lauren Eriks, a 2008 graduate, received a fellowship from the French government to teach in the region of Nantes. Lauren is an English and French major from Grand Rapids.

    4. Jill Pardini, a 2006 graduate, received a Fulbright award to teach in Malaysia. She is an English and psychology major from Williamston and has been serving the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan.

    5. Karen Russell, a 2008 graduate, received a Fulbright award to teach in South Korea. Karen is a German education major from Berkeley, Ill.

    6. Jonathan Sprik, a 2008 graduate, was chosen to receive a Fulbright award to teach in Spain, but instead chose to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in theatre at the University of Houston. He is a psychology and Spanish major from Grand Rapids.

Dr. Ed Hansen, professor of geology and environmental science, has also received a Fulbright award for conducting research in Sweden during the fall semester, and Dr. Matt DeJongh, associate professor of computer science and Towsley Research Scholar, has received a Fulbright for conducting research in France in the spring. Dr. John Krupczak, chairman of the department of engineering at Hope, has been appointed a Senior Fellow of the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education, a program of the National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Krupczak will be conducting research to enhance technological literacy in engineering.

Dr. Susan Dunn, chair of the department of nursing, received this year’s “New Investigator Award” presented by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. The Hope research team focused on the recovery of hospitalized coronary patients.

Dr. Moses Lee, dean for the natural and applied sciences, is receiving the 2009 “American Chemical Society Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution.” The award honors a chemistry professor whose research in an undergraduate setting has achieved wide recognition and contributed significantly to chemistry and to the professional development of undergraduate students.

The University of Indianapolis featured a solo exhibition of the artwork of Professor Katherine Sullivan. In conjunction with the exhibition, she was invited to the university as a guest artist and lecturer.

Finally, Dr. Donald Cronkite has been awarded the highest honor bestowed by the National Association of Biology Teachers. Dr. Cronkite will be receiving the Association's 2008 “Honorary Membership Award.” It is the third time that Dr. Cronkite has been presented a national award by the association. He previously received their “Evolution Education Award” in 2006 and their “Four-Year College Biology Teaching Award” in 1995. Dr. Cronkite was also awarded the 2005 “College Teacher of the Year Award” by the Michigan Science Teachers Association.

U.S. News & World Report

Once again, Hope finished in the top tier (Top 100 National Liberal Arts Colleges) in this annual ranking. Hope compares favorably with the best liberal arts institutions in the country in a very competitive category.

One of the things that has most mystified me during my time at Hope, and one that is a factor in this ranking, is our percentage of alumni participation in the annual Hope Fund. We currently have 28 percent participation; many of the schools ahead of us are nearly double that. I hear so many favorable things about Hope from alums who indicate that the college was so influential in their lives that I find it quizzical that we don't have a higher participation rate.

Tuition at Hope has always covered only about 80 percent of the actual cost of delivering a Hope education. All of us, myself included, have been the recipients of the generosity of alumni and friends for the remaining 20 percent, and many have, in addition, benefited from institutional scholarships. It is now our turn to reciprocate by participating in the annual Hope Fund and enabling a new generation of college students to attend Hope. The annual fund phonathon is currently underway, and I urge you to be responsive and generous when asked to assist in keeping a Hope College education affordable for today's students even as others did for you in the past. With your help, we can do much better than 28 percent!

Intercollegiate Sport

For those of you that are interested in athletics, Hope has for the eighth consecutive year won the Commissioners Cup for supremacy in MIAA intercollegiate sport. With All-Sports championships in 23 of the last 29 years, Hope has won the honor a league-leading 30 times.

A total of 162 Hope athletes were named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll, and 10 of our 18 teams received the MIAA All-Academic Team Award for maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 during the school year. The women's cross country team received the honor for the 10th consecutive year.

Finally, Lindsay Lange, a star in basketball and track and field, received a prestigious NCAA postgraduate scholarship. She becomes the 16th Hope athlete to receive this award and the fifth since 2005!


I love college students. I especially love Hope College students. This is so because of their commitment to intellectual, spiritual, social, and physical development. They are a joy to be around!

Hope is a fun place to be. What an exciting adventure for college students to be with so many friends their own age in such a great environment. I frequently eat lunch with students and typically ask them how things are going. This fall I have been overwhelmed by the positive responses from students with whom I’ve interacted. Perhaps they're telling the president what he wants to hear, but their enthusiasm tells me otherwise.

There was one student, however, that Martie and I had lunch with this past Sunday. When I asked her how she liked college, she said, “I don't really like it.” She was a freshman, away from home for the first time, somewhat homesick, and perhaps overwhelmed by her classes. Upon further inquiry, I said, “Well, what don't you like about it?” Her response was, “I really don’t like to study.” My response: “That's a big problem!” Fortunately, I encountered the same student again toward the end of the week. She now had a big smile on her face and indicated that things were going much better. College is about study, after all, and I’m impressed that with the help of so many people on campus, she is discovering or rediscovering the joy of learning.

James E. Bultman, President