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Presidential Update Spring 2013

To Hope College Alumni, Parents and Friends:

Time flies when you’re having fun! It hardly seems possible that we have already entered the fourth quarter of this academic year. This is a very good season at Hope. We feel blessed! Second-semester enrollment is at an all-time high; students and faculty are engaged academically; staff members are facilitating the teaching/learning process in their usual dedicated fashion; students are taking advantage of the many meaningful and enjoyable opportunities that a residential campus like Hope affords; faculty and students are productive in collaborative research, service, and a variety of performances; Chapel is filled to overflowing four times each week; the retention from last semester and applications for next year are very strong; and the college is doing well financially. In short, Hope is nearly fully functioning. We are not yet perfect—though we strive to be. We have much for which to be grateful. Our response is to recognize all of this with humility as a gift from God. Importantly, it should be a motivation to resist complacency and continue with passion our efforts to serve Hope students and honor Him in all we do.


Hope is enjoying unprecedented interest in attendance. You may recall that the fall enrollment at Hope was at an all-time high of 3,343 students, with 905 freshmen. This total exceeded our desired enrollment and put us slightly past our “sweet spot” for providing the “Hope experience.” Our plan for this fall is to enroll 800 freshmen. This presents a good but very real challenge, because the number of applications for next fall already exceeds by 700 the total number for last year and our waiting list of historically qualified students now exceeds 500 students. We are committed to fairly consider each freshman applicant for the 800 spots our campus infrastructure allows.

Dance Marathon

Hope students are willing to serve—in marvelous ways both on and off campus. They continually make us very proud. One tangible example of this is the involvement of 800 students in an effort called Dance Marathon, a fundraising event for the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. This year Hope students raised $139,000 which brings Hope’s 14-year total for this Children’s Miracle Network project to $1,142,000. More than the money, it is the relationships that Hope students establish with children suffering from severe illnesses and their families that most identify this program. It is heartwarming!

A Correction

In last fall’s Presidential Update, I shared with you the incredible success of Hope students in passing credentials testing in several disciplines. I apologize, however, for being too exuberant about the first-time pass rate in accounting. Because the accounting test is typically taken in parts over a longer period of time as opposed to a single cohort group, it is misleading, perhaps impossible, to say that a cohort group achieved a certain percent pass rate. Hope students do admirably on the test, but I was incorrect in saying that they had a 100-percent first-time pass rate.

A Greater Hope

The comprehensive campaign, A Greater Hope, has now reached $162M toward our $175M goal. We are grateful for this level of generosity. Yet, we hope that more of our constituency will want to become involved in bringing this campaign to a successful conclusion. Gifts, both large and small, are necessary to do this. At an unnamed Ivy League university, it is said that alums often greet each other with the comment, “What have you done for your alma mater lately?” While this is a bit over-the-top for me, alumni gifts are crucial to the current and future well-being of the college we love.

The endowment portion of the campaign has created more than 100 new endowed scholarships, nearly doubled Hope’s number of endowed professorships with nine new ones, and provided endowed monies for program enhancements in spiritual life, international education, and multicultural education.

In addition, we have funded an operations endowment equaling 25 percent of the construction cost for each new building so that future generations will not have to pay to maintain buildings we build today. New facilities during this campaign include outdoor athletic stadiums for softball, baseball, and soccer/lacrosse. Additionally, the football stadium was recently purchased from the City of Holland and renovated for future use. Slated for completion this fall are the Haworth Engineering Center wing and the Tom and Ryan Cook Village with townhouse-style student apartments. Soon to be under construction are the Kruizenga Art Museum (May) and the new concert hall/music complex (December). The last facility funded through the campaign will be a new student center (fall 2015).

When successfully completed, Hope will have raised one-third of a billion dollars during the Legacies and A Greater Hope campaigns in the 2000s, increased the acreage of the campus threefold, and built or renovated virtually every campus building. Clearly God has blessed the college in ways beyond our fondest expectations.

Student Charges and
Recommendations for Tenure and Promotion

The January meeting of the Trustees is always an important one for setting tuition, room and board for the next year and acting on tenure and promotion recommendations.

Financially, Hope is in an enviable position. Operational budgets have been balanced for 41 consecutive years. Generous donors have funded an impressive building program and significant property acquisitions without added debt, allowing the college to make only inflationary-like tuition increases during the past nine years with Hope and Consumer Price Index increases both averaging 2.5 percent annually. This model is definitely an “outlier” among colleges and universities nationwide. Tuition, room and full board for 2013-14 are set at $37,530. Obviously, applicable financial aid can reduce this cost considerably.

Reading tenure and promotion files is always a joy because of the comments from students, colleagues, and the candidates themselves. Here are some snippets from this year’s files:

  • “She is the type of faculty member that all institutions dream of having and, more importantly, retaining. She is a scholar of national repute, an effective and engaging teacher, a wonderful and flexible colleague, and a role model for our students to emulate.”
  • “My hope is that I will be innovative, relevant and that God will be glorified through my teaching and research.”
  • “I didn’t want the class to end—he’s absolutely riveting and inspiring in the classroom.”
  • “He is first-rate in everything he does, and he does it the old-fashioned way: by caring about his field and his students and by working really, really hard.”
  • “ I remember when I first interviewed for a position at Hope College. The president asked me to share my faith. I was glad to do that because I wanted—and still want—a career that integrates the life of scholarship, teaching, and science with my Christian faith.
  • “ Simply put, he is the whole package—a genuine, nationally recognized superstar!”
  • “ At the core of her drive for academic excellence for herself and our department is an unwavering commitment to her Christian faith. She is a model for Christ-like compassion and caring for faculty and students.”

Hope Named Outstanding Employer

For the eighth consecutive year, Hope was selected as one of the “101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” in West Michigan. We do try to take care of our valued employees, as well we should, for it is people who are foundational to the success of any organization. We are grateful for employees with demonstrated ability, great work ethics, and unwavering loyalty to the mission of Hope.


The Hope Entrepreneurial Institute, which is part of Hope’s Center for Faithful Leadership, is flourishing. Seniors Samuel Tzou (Midland) and Scott Brandonisio (Troy) finished second in a statewide college and university competition, and have won three cash awards totaling $27,500 from the Accelerate Michigan Business Competition, Start Garden, and the Business Accelerator for their product-development efforts. Their winning product, the Vital Sleep Band, is designed to block outside sounds and also to monitor vital signs usually taken by healthcare professionals. It has the very real potential for addressing the sleep interruption oftentimes experienced by hospital patients.

The Donut Run

Through the years, Martie and I have thoroughly enjoyed hosting many students at the President’s Home on campus. Recently, the Phelps Scholars were there for an evening of fellowship. The Phelps Scholars, directed so capably by Professor Charles Green, consist about equally of majority and minority students who desire an enhanced learning/living environment that fosters intercultural opportunities and experiences. In the course of our conversation, one of the students asked if we had ever been on a donut run. We were embarrassed to acknowledge that we had not, nor had we ever heard about them. Fast-forward a few weeks and in the mail came a beautifully crafted letter from Phelps Scholar Micah Gargala, a freshman from Zeeland, Michigan, with these closing words:

. . . The Phelps Scholars would like to cordially invite you on a donut run, which will be occurring March 1st at 11:45 p.m. Please wear many layers to keep warm. We would be thrilled if you decided to grace our donut run with your attendance.

I started to respond with this e-mail:

Dear Micah,

Thanks for the invitation to the donut run. It was a compelling note. We have different biological clocks. I’m travelling a lot for Hope right now trying to raise money for this campaign, so I’m inclined to respectfully . . .

Then I thought, “Jim Bultman, you’re a wimp!”

So I wrote this instead:

Dear Micah,

Thanks for the invitation to the donut run. Count us in! Will you stop by the President’s Home at 11:45 p.m. on Friday night to pick us up?

A group of about 35 students stopped by promptly at 11:45 p.m. We walked a few blocks to Good Time Donuts. I asked about it being open at this time of night. The response, “He leaves the door open every night for Hope students.” Sure enough. We walked in and stood watching the chef bake donuts (in his boxer shorts, no less!) In between baking and glazing, he would come to the counter and sell donuts from a vast array of yummy choices.

We returned home about 1:00 a.m. a bit cold, a bit tired, but happy to have experienced the time-honored Hope College donut run which, incidentally, occurs most every night (er, morning!) during the academic year.

Women’s Basketball
Hope’s most successful sport so far this year is the women’s basketball team. They shared the league championship with Calvin at 15-1, won the MIAA tournament to earn an automatic berth in the national tournament, and advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to eventual national runner-up University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. They brought wins—29 of them! They brought excitement and finally heartache when for the third time in six years they ended one victory shy of coming home to compete in the Final Four as the host college. Coach Brian Morehouse and his team have compiled an unbelievable home record of 125-3 since playing at our DeVos Fieldhouse.

Birds of Paradise
At Hope there are several interesting and exciting events happening every night. One such event was an illustrated lecture by Tim Laman ’83 on the “Birds of Paradise.” Dr. Laman is a field biologist, wildlife photojournalist, and regular contributor to National Geographic. People came from all over the Midwest to see the spectacular photography and hear the stories about Tim’s journeys to the rain forest of New Guinea and the nearby islands as well as to eastern Australia. Eighteen expeditions were necessary to film the 39 species of songbirds and their courtship behavior. Dr. Eldon Greij, professor emeritus of biology, was Tim’s mentor at Hope and arranged for a most delightful evening.

Hope’s Next President
The entire campus community is looking forward with eager anticipation to the impending announcement of Hope’s 12th president. By the time you read this update, you will likely have learned who that person will be. We have every confidence that the discernment process of the Presidential Search Committee will guide them to the person of God’s own choosing to lead the college to new levels of distinction in the years ahead. To God be the glory for His provision for Hope!

James E. Bultman, President