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Presidential Update Summer 2009

To Hope College Alumni, Parents, and Friends:

It was late in the academic year, and we had been busy with college events every night for the last month. When I came home from work, I said to Martie, “I’d really rather not attend the hockey banquet tonight. I’m inundated with work, and I’m tired.” Martie responded quickly and decisively, “We’re going to the hockey banquet because you accepted their invitation and because they deserve to have the president at their banquet.” We went! It was an exhilarating evening! The club hockey players, their parents, and their coaches were having a great time together, but what tugged at my heartstrings was when Coach Chris Van Timmeren asked each of the seniors to say a few words. Every single one of the seven seniors thanked their parents for all that they had done for them during their formative years and while in college. It was heartwarming to see their genuine gratitude. One of the players, Patrick Newhall from Springfield, Va., began his comments by saying, “I’m not like all the rest of you. I wasn’t a good student when I came to Hope. Hope took a chance on me.” He looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “Thank you, Hope College, for believing in me.” You see, Patrick was a FOCUS student (Fall Opportunity to Continue Upward Scholastically). He came to Hope without a sterling high school academic record, but our admissions office saw potential in him and accepted him as one of the few students annually admitted for this program. Patrick, an exercise science major, was so eloquent in his comments and so poised in front of the group that I never would have guessed he was admitted conditionally. His final comment was, “Thanks to all of you for accepting me even though I hadn’t yet proven myself. You made me feel like family; my life is forever changed because of Hope.”


I always marvel at the quality of Hope students. There are, of course, the tangible evidences of an average entering grade point of 3.78 and an ACT exceeding 26, but it’s so much more than that. Hope students are academic achievers, generous with their time in service to others, and serious about their commitment to the Christian faith. How grateful I am for the exceptional parenting that enables Hope to attract such talented students with such sure foundations. It is our privilege to build on these foundations during their Hope years.

By way of service, Hope students continue with their fundraising for the Children’s Miracle Network via our Dance Marathon program. Over 800 students annually are involved in raising money now totaling $0.75 million for DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. The relationships that are established with the children and their families are notably the most important features of this program. Hope students also raise significant amounts of money for the American Cancer Society via Relay for Life. This program, successful largely through the efforts of our Mortar Board chapter, annually raises approximately $50,000. The Children’s After School Achievement (CASA) program under the overall direction of Fonda Green continues to provide academic support for elementary students most at risk in the Holland area. Four days a week, Hope vans pick up students from school and return them to their homes after they spend two hours one-on-one with a volunteer Hope student. This program involves 150 area students paired with 150 Hope volunteers. There are many other programs that are positively influenced by the energy and time of Hope students, all designed to make ours a better community.

Students at Hope are also engaged spiritually. The spiritual life program, under the able direction of Dean of the Chapel Tryg Johnson and his spiritual life team, help so many students grow in their faith during their time at Hope and others to discover for the first time a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Chapel, filled to overflowing with voluntary attendance four times a week, is the most visible of our spiritual life programs, but certainly not the only one. Spontaneous Bible study groups, mission trips, Fellowship of Christian Students, and classrooms where teaching is marked by a Christian perspective are among the vehicles for growing faith in the soil of Hope.

Enrollment for Fall 2009

Everyone is interested in student recruiting results at this time of the year. Because of the current economy, most every institution in the country is concerned about enrollment for the fall of 2009. Hope has received nearly 3,000 applications (a record), has accepted about 2,500 of them, and received 808 net deposits. Since our goal was 800 net student deposits, we are very pleased with these numbers and also the quality of the incoming freshmen. Our admissions team and virtually all campus employees were mindful of the challenges we faced with enrollment this year. Rarely have I seen such a concerted team effort to assist us in reaching our goals. Given the declining population in the state of Michigan and the lingering economic downturn, we anticipate that recruiting for fall 2010 will again pose many challenges. In this regard, I would alert you to the enclosed card which enables you to easily recommend students you would like us to recruit for fall 2010. These referrals are immensely helpful to our admissions team in knowing where to best direct our efforts. Thank you.

Commissioner’s Cup

For the ninth consecutive year and the 24th time in the last 30 years, Hope has won the MIAA Commissioner’s Cup, emblematic of supremacy in our overall intercollegiate program. This is a noteworthy achievement for our athletes and coaches.

As you are probably aware, Hope is a member of the NCAA Division III along with 454 other institutions. I have the privilege of being an elected member of the 15-person Presidents Council, a policy-setting group. I can assure you that Hope is held in very high esteem. Division III does not allow any athletically related aid to student-athletes. Athletes are students first and are intentionally treated the same as every other student on campus. Our coaches also teach and are expected to be involved in the life of the campus community as contributors to the totality of the educational experience. We are very proud of their commitment to this philosophy. While we cannot give athletic-related financial aid, we can provide the best coaches, the best programs, and the best facilities. This we attempt to do with integrity.

I was struck this year by the number of Hope student-athletes who received league Most Valuable Player and national recognitions. In softball, senior Kelli Duimstra from Hudsonville was voted the MIAA Most Valuable Player. She also was named a first-team All-American as a first baseman. In men’s tennis, senior John Pelton from Rock Hill, S.C. was named the MIAA Most Valuable Player, was the recipient of the MIAA Stowe Sportsmanship Award, and was named an All-American and the recipient of the Arthur Ashe, Jr. Leadership and Sportsmanship Award for the Central Region. In women’s tennis, senior Samantha Stille from Holland was named the MIAA Most Valuable Player on Hope’s championship team. In women’s track and field, Nora Kuiper was named the Most Valuable Trackster and All-American in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and was national champion in the 100-meter dash. Hope’s first woman to claim a national championship in track and field, Nora is a senior from Parchment. In men’s basketball, senior Jesse Reimink from Hudsonville was named Most Valuable Player in the MIAA. The same was true for Jenison sophomore Carrie Snikkers in women’s basketball, Grandville junior Steven Strock in men’s golf, and senior women’s soccer player Allison VanBeek from Libertyville, Ill.

Finally, Hope hosted the Division III Women’s National Championship at our DeVos Fieldhouse for the second year in a row. Hope’s basketball records at DeVos since it opened are 60-1 for the women and 62-4 for the men. What happened in those five games?!

Music Student Receives Top Honors

Jared Graybiel, a junior from Lebanon, Ind., took first place in the College Musical Theater Division of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Great Lakes Regional Competition. He also received the “Most Promising Musical Theater Performer” award through a vote of the music teachers. His voice teacher at Hope is Professor Linda Dykstra.

Science Students Receive Major Awards

This past spring, two students, sophomore John Donkersloot from Zeeland and junior Camille Riddering from Belmont, were named Beckman Scholars. Funded by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation of Irvine, Calif., the Beckman Scholarship provides financial support for select students in chemistry, biochemistry, and the biological and medical sciences with an emphasis on sustained, in-depth laboratory research experiences with faculty mentors. Donkersloot, also an All-American high jumper and accomplished pianist, is majoring in chemistry, and Riddering is double-majoring in biology and chemistry.

Four Hope students received recognition from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Juniors Mark Lunderberg of Grandville and Blair Williams of Fenton each received Goldwater Scholarships for the 2009-10 academic year; 278 national awards were given. Each scholarship covers eligible expenses for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to $7,500 annually. Juniors Joel Blok of Schoolcraft and Paul Frybarger of Muskegon received honorable mention in this national competition.

Megan Haserodt, a sophomore from North Olmsted, Ohio, received a highly competitive, two-year Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is one of 100 awards given nationally. Each award is for up to $29,050 and includes up to $8,000 of academic assistance per year for full-time study during the recipient’s junior and senior years; a paid, 10-week internship position during the summer at a NOAA facility; a summer housing subsidy for the summer internship; and travel expenses to an orientation and a conference. Haserodt is double-majoring in geology and chemistry with a minor in environmental science.

Finally, six graduating seniors or recent graduates have received recognition through the Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation. Three students, Kristin Dittenhafer, Emily Timmons, and Rebecca Lathrop, received a Graduate Fellowship. The Graduate Fellowship Program (GRFP) offers our nation’s research leaders of tomorrow exceptional funding with three years of graduate support to include a $30,000 annual stipend, $10,500 annual cost-of-education allowance, and a $1,000 one-time international travel allowance—a total of $122,500 for each awardee. Dittenhafer, a Midland chemistry major with biochemistry emphasis and 2009 graduate, will study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Timmons, a 2007 graduate from Kalamazoo, was a geology major and is pursuing graduate study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lathrop, a 2007 graduate from Gladwin, is an engineering major with a mechanical engineering emphasis and is pursuing graduate study at The Ohio State University. Three students—Jamin Dreyer, a 2006 graduate from Holland, Alicia Hofelich, a 2007 graduate from Midland, and Jonathan Moerdyk, a 2009 graduate from Paris—received honorable mention. Dreyer, a biology-education major, will be pursuing graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hofelich, a psychology major, is pursuing graduate studies at the University of Michigan; and Moerdyk, a chemistry major, is pursuing graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For

For the fourth consecutive year, Hope has been honored with its selection as one of West Michigan’s best organizations to work for. Given the economic conditions we all face and the gracious way that Hope employees accepted a wage freeze, this award is significant. As you know from previous communications, Hope raised tuition, room and board 2.9 percent for the 2009-10 school year, the lowest in modern history and one of the lowest of any college nationwide. It prompted the following headline in The Detroit News: “Hope College sets tuition example.” Most of the increase went for student financial aid and precluded a wage increase for any Hope employee.

External Grants

Certainly one measure of an institution’s stature is the number of competitive external grants received. Hope continues to excel in this area, particularly in the sciences with the emphasis on student-faculty collaborative research. For the fiscal year about to end, Hope has been funded for 40 grants ($1.75M), has 31 still pending ($6.7M), and has twelve not funded ($3.1M).

Jorge Capestany Named PTR Master Professional

Hope enjoys a six-court indoor tennis facility provided through the generous leadership gift of Joyce and Gary DeWitt. Jorge Capestany manages the DeWitt Tennis Center at Hope and has earned Master Professional Status with the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), becoming only the ninth person worldwide to hold Master Pro distinction with both the PTR and the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA).

PTR Master Professional certification recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to tennis throughout their careers. Considerations include teaching, coaching, and playing experience as well as service to the community and tennis associations, publications, and tournament administration. Jorge was named Master Professional in 1992. He was the youngest to achieve this distinction in USPTA history. Hope and western Michigan are proud to have him manage this outstanding tennis facility.

Phelps Scholars Program Recognized as Exemplary Diversity Program

For the past 10 years, the freshman year Phelps Scholars Program at Hope has been one of our diversity initiatives. Dr. Charles Green, professor of psychology, is the program’s director and has led this academic/residential program for students especially interested in race and culture since its inception. The college was recognized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in April.

Upward Bound

Another initiative of our diversity program is Upward Bound. This past year, Hope celebrated 40 consecutive years of funding for this program which is dedicated to giving students from economically challenged families or immigrant parents the opportunity to prepare for college. The program is funded by the U. S. Department of Education and Hope College. It serves 80 high school students and is directed by Elizabeth Colburn. Students are tutored by Hope student mentors and area teachers during the academic year and also in the summer.

Dr. Maria Burnatowska-Hledin Named to Endowed Chair

Dr. Maria Burnatowska-Hledin of the biology and chemistry faculty has been appointed as the college’s Frederich Garrett and Helen Floor Dekker Endowed Professor of Biomedicine and Chemistry. Dr. Burnatowska-Hledin has been a member of the faculty since 1992 and has an interest and funding in cancer cell research from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Burnatowska-Hledin is a past recipient of the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, has authored more than 40 publications, and has mentored more than 80 students in research.

Capital Projects

The adaptive restoration of Graves Hall will be completed in July and ready for use in the fall. A generous leadership gift from Ed ’64 and Diana ’64 Marsilje provided the catalyst for this project. It will be used primarily as a classroom facility as well as house the CASA and Upward Bound programs. For the first time, the building will have central air conditioning and handicap accessibility. Knowing that the initial cost of this building over 100 years ago was $40,000 and the current restoration cost is $5.7 million helps me to better understand inflation!

Also under construction is the Van Andel Soccer Stadium, funded with a very generous leadership gift from the David and Carol Van Andel Foundation. This stadium, located at the eastern gateway to the campus, will be one of the finest facilities of its kind at any level. Completion is scheduled for this fall.

Annual Hope Fund

Many of you have already contributed generously, even sometimes sacrificially, to support the annual Hope Fund. For this we are deeply grateful, especially so this year when economic conditions have made fundraising a challenge for every nonprofit organization. Our goal this year is $3.3 million for student scholarships and other operational expenses. No Hope Fund monies are used for capital projects. Capital projects are funded separately with designated gifts and supporting endowment to operate them. If you have already contributed to the Hope Fund during this fiscal year, we thank you. If you have not yet contributed, please consider doing so prior to June 30 as we strive to meet our budget and keep Hope affordable for talented and deserving students. Contributions to the Hope Fund may be made online at www.hope.edu/hopefund.

James E. Bultman, President