Inaugural Address Challenges College
Community to Work Together
Posted October 22, 1999
HOLLAND -- During his inauguration on Friday, Oct.
22, Hope College President Dr. James Bultman challenged
himself and all involved in the college to work together to
help Hope excel.
"Hope is a magnificent name for a college," he
said. "To be hopeful is to be simultaneously optimistic and
truthful. We can bring hope for a better world and the life
"I believe my responsibility as president is to
envision with all of you what, by God's grace, Hope can yet
become, to inspire you in achieving this along with your
personal goals, and to affirm you when you do it with
distinction," Bultman said.
"I have no desire for Hope to be mediocre," he
said. "Exceptionality excites me; and it is my goal, along
with the Hope constituency, to fully achieve Hope's
A capacity audience of approximately 1,100
attended the inaugural ceremony, held in Dimnent Memorial
Chapel in conjunction with the college's Homecoming Weekend.
Bultman took office on July 1. He had previously
served as president of Northwestern College in Iowa for 14
years, and prior to that had been a long-time member of the
faculty, coaching staff and administration at Hope. He is a
1963 Hope graduate.
He titled his address "Hope as hope!"
Bultman cited five "enduring values" as central to
Hope's identity and work. He said that they have been
expressed to him consistently by members of the Hope faculty
and staff in the months since he took office: an
exceptional academic program; a vibrant Christian faith; a
caring community; the development of the whole person--mind,
body and spirit; and stewardship of resources.
The emphasis on the academic program, he noted,
has been strong since he was a student at Hope himself
beginning in the fall of 1959. "From faculty, and
administrators, both then and now, has come the message that
Hope is first and foremost an educational institution where
teaching, learning and scholarship are of primary
importance," he said.
Bultman noted that Hope must continue to find ways
to make itself so strong academically that it is
irresistible to prospective students. He said that Hope
must emphasize the importance of undergraduate-level
teaching; create a campus environment that prizes teaching,
learning and scholarship; attract faculty, staff and
students who are capable and motivated, and provide them
with the resources they need; promote collaborative faculty-
student research; promote interdisciplinary learning;
internationalize the curriculum; work hard; and stress that
an education is not merely training for a first job, but "a
foundation for meaningful life itself."
Concerning the college's Christian character, he
said, "It is a dynamic dimension at Hope that is not
prescriptive, not parochial, not homogeneous, not
suffocating, not indoctrinating but meaningfully and
"Hope intends to follow a centrist position of the
Reformed Church in America [with which the college is
affiliated]," he said. "It is our intent, that while many
will be exactly in line with this position, others may
dangle from their toes or fingers either to the left or
right of this line and still remain an integral, valued and
respected part of the community we call Hope."
Regarding the college's nature as a caring
community, Bultman said, "The intensity with which people
identified the caring relational nature of Hope was a
surprise even to me."
"It has always been this kind of place, of course,
but the personnel present here now advocate strongly for a
relationship of trust, respect, acceptance--even while not
necessarily approving or celebrating all behaviors and
positions," he said. "There is no doubt in my mind that
this is exactly the kind of institution Hope can and should
The Hope experience, he said, must ultimately
contribute to the development of the whole person--including
not only in intellect and faith, but also physically and
socially. "When we are serious about these four
developmental dimensions, it should never be necessary to
mask the mediocrity of one by purporting the virtues of
others," he said.
Stewardship, Bultman noted, includes raising funds
to support the college's work, using the funds responsibly,
and the people "necessary to achieve our mission with
Concerning the latter, he said, "At Hope, we have
a treasure trove of outstanding faculty and staff who are
able to admirably fulfill their roles. It is important that
we view this resource as one which needs to be nurtured and
He also stressed the college's responsibility as a
part of the wider Holland community. "We very much desire
to be a good neighbor--believing strongly that the vitality
of the community in which we reside and the college are
mutually dependent on each other," he said. "Our intention
is to work cooperatively to create the kind of environment
where both the college and the city can flourish."
Developed together, Bultman said, the five values
that he has found shared by members of the Hope community
can help assure that the college is worthy of its name.
"At its very best, I see Hope College as the
embodiment of our hope for the future," he said. "Hope as
hope--a place where the dreams of so many become reality for