Tom Renner, associate vice president for public and community relations at Hope College, will retire at the end of the calendar year after serving at the college for 47 years.
Hope College President John C. Knapp expressed appreciation for “a commitment that may never be equaled,” not only for its duration but for its quality and extent.
“Hope College has been at the center of the Renner family life for his entire career,” Knapp said. “He’s been on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, disseminating news of Hope’s successes and tragedies and telling the Hope story through the lens of his ever-present camera with a perspective honed by decades of experience and interactions. Five Hope College presidents have relied on Tom for advice in serving the media, and two-thirds of all Hope alumni have graduated with Tom snapping photos at their commencement. His is a tale of loyalty and love for Hope for which we are all deeply grateful.”
Renner, who is 68, had originally considered retiring earlier in the year, but—with characteristic dedication—remained at the college to support the transition for Knapp, who became Hope’s 12th president on July 1.
“I am personally grateful that Tom stayed long enough to assist me with my transition into the presidency,” Knapp said. “His wise counsel has been invaluable since my appointment was first announced last March.”
A member of the Hope staff since 1967, Renner developed and directs the college’s overall program in public and community relations, which includes the college’s news, sports information and media relations programs; community programming such as Community Day and Winter Happening; college home web pages; and multiple publications.
He supervises a staff of five, and is the primary college spokesperson. Among other roles across his career, he has served as the primary college photographer, shooting more than 500,000 images featuring the people, places and events of Hope. He helped establish the college website in the 1990s, and has continued to update the “KnowHope” and “Hope Today” home pages through the current semester.
Renner developed the college’s sports information program, which he directed from 1967 through June of this year. He was the first editor of “News from Hope College,” which is the magazine published five times per year for alumni and friends of the college. For many years, he also supervised the staff members responsible for the college’s alumni relations program and summer-conference program.
He was league publicist and statistician for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association from 1967 until 2008, and in 2008 was named MIAA historian, a position he will continue. The MIAA established the Renner Association Sports Information Associate Award for students in his honor in 2008.
In conjunction with his role as sports information director, he presented the daily “Hope Sports Report” on WHTC radio for nearly 30 years (1984-spring 2013), often incorporating other college news and events.
Through the years Renner has been honored by multiple professional associations, including receiving awards for publications from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the College Sports Information Directors Association of America (CoSIDA), and recognition for service from CoSIDA and the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan.
In the summer of 1996, he was chosen to be a volunteer in media relations, in men’s basketball and women’s gymnastics, with the Centennial Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Ga.
In 2006 he received recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow from the Holland Rotary Club for service and humanitarian efforts in Holland and for Hope College.
Renner, who is a member of the college’s Class of 1967, received a Meritorious Service Award from the Hope College Alumni Association on April 28, 2012.
He was named a recipient of Hope’s “Vanderbush-Weller Award” for strong, positive impact on students on May 2, 2013. In his role at Hope, especially in the area of sports information, he has been able to involve many students in the life of the college.
Renner’s family has also been devoted to his work, regularly participating in his activities at the college through the years. His wife, Carole, is a Hope alumna, Class of 1967. They have four children, Deb, Susie, Daniel and ReBecca, all of whom attended Hope, and nine grandchildren. In 2007, the college named the media section of the DeVos Fieldhouse in honor of Tom and Carole.
Tom and Carole have supported a variety of major projects at Hope, including all of the new athletic facilities (Dow Center, DeWitt Tennis Center, Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse, Boeve and Wolters stadiums in baseball and softball, Van Andel Soccer Stadium, and VandePoel-Heeringa Stadium Courts). They are also members of the Second Century Club.
Immediately prior to joining the Hope staff, Renner had served as editor of the South Haven Tribune. He and Carole have continued to live in South Haven, where both have been involved in the community, where Tom served as assistant fire chief for many years and also on the city council. In addition to his work with the college, his involvement in the Holland community included serving on the Tulip Time Board of Directors and Executive board for several years, and the committees for the commemoration of Holland’s 1997 Sesquicentennial and “Celebration 2000” event. He has also co-chaired the college’s United Way drive. He and Carole are members of Christ Memorial Reformed Church in Holland.
In retirement he will continue to serve Hope as a volunteer. He will write a chronicle of Hope athletic history from 1970 through 2013, continuing a series that includes two volumes by former faculty member Gord Brewer covering 1862-1955 and 1955-1970; and will also assist the college in further organizing the photographs taken during his tenure.