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Presidential Update Summer 2000
To Hope College Alumni and Friends:
One of our great joys during this past year has been watching students participate in a variety of campus events: musical concerts, theatre and dance, chapel, intercollegiate sports, artistic exhibits, campus governance, and scholarly presentations. They have made us very proud of their abilities and their commitments. Martie has invited many student groups to our home on campus; and we have, likewise, been invited to many residence halls. Sometimes students come to our home invited or not! On such a Friday evening this spring, a group of six sophomore men appeared on our doorstep. The spokesman for the group said, "Hey, we were wondering if we could just come in and hang out with you guys for a while." Of course, we were flattered that six young men on a Friday night would want to "hang out" with the old folks. They entertained us and our Boston terrier, Sassy, for about an hour-and-a-half. It was a delightful evening for us!
About a week after school let out for the summer, a young man made an appointment to see me. I recognized Ryan Atwell, but I had never had a serious conversation with him. He shared with me how much he had appreciated his Hope experience. He loved his classes and cited two professors who had profoundly impacted his life -- Dr. Jim Allis in philosophy and Dr. Steve Bouma-Prediger in religion. He also indicated how much he liked Ben Patterson and the chapel program. He appreciated both the academic study of religion and the faithfulness of practicing it. Ryan did not take a side in some of the controversies that have engulfed the campus these past few years but, rather, engaged the best of both.
Ryan will be studying and assisting next year at the prestigious Teton Science School in the Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The school's mission is to teach experiential natural science in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Ryan feels privileged to be one of only twelve students chosen nationwide. In the near future, Ryan will likely find himself in a professional ministry program. I would predict with certainty that he will be very successful.
I left our meeting so impressed with Ryan but disappointed with myself for not taking the initiative to know and interact with such an outstanding young person this past year. I know there are many students like him at Hope!
Year 2000 Alumni Weekend
We had so much fun! It was a real pleasure to welcome to campus so many reunion classes and alumni of Hope College. There was a record turnout (968) on a beautiful spring Saturday prior to Sunday's Baccalaureate and Commencement. Martie and I enjoyed interacting with people who had impacted our lives in special ways -- professors, classmates, and former students and athletes. We observed alumni joyfully interacting with each other. I hope that many of you will make a commitment now to return to the campus for Homecoming 2000 (Sept. 22-24) or Alumni Weekend 2001 (May 4-6).
We continue to work our way carefully through the student behavior difficulties that I shared with you in an earlier Presidential Update. My commitment to Hope students is unwavering and remains undiminished. Mistakes were made, and these oftentimes have unfortunate consequences for all involved. We are very interested in working developmentally with students in altering a culture that has too often centered around alcohol. I am not naïve, but I think we have a marvelous opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of our students by addressing this societal and institutional issue with integrity, compassion, and conviction. Thank you for the many encouraging communications you have shared with me during these challenging months.
Daniel Lappenga, a physics major from Holland, Michigan, received a very significant honor this past year. Daniel was selected as the lone national recipient of the 2000 "Barbara Lotze Scholarship for Future Teachers" from the American Association of Physics Teachers. This award is given annually to the collegiate student who shows the most promise for successful teaching of high school physics.
Two students, Karen Hahn of Midland, Michigan, and Aranh Penh of Holland, Michigan, were chosen to conduct undergraduate research through the Beckman Foundation grant received by Hope College. Hope is one of only four liberal arts institutions in the country to receive this grant. Dr. Nicole Bennett and Dr. William Polik of the chemistry faculty are supervising their research.
This spring, two juniors -- Steven Molesa of Troy, Michigan, and Jordan Schmidt of Eagan, Minnesota -- received prestigious Goldwater Scholarships for the 2000-01 academic year. Only 309 of the scholarships were awarded nationwide to undergraduates studying mathematics, science, or engineering. It is the fourth year in a row that at least one Hope student has received one of the scholarships.
We learned recently that Hope is the recipient of more grants (five) from the National Science Foundation's "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" program for this summer than any other liberal arts college in the country. In fact, only five institutions, all of which are universities, hold more such grants than Hope. Dr. Christopher Barney and Dr. Virginia McDonough (biology), Dr. Joanne Stewart (chemistry), Dr. Herbert Dershem and Dr. Michael Jipping (computer science), Dr. Timothy Pennings (mathematics), and Dr. Peter Jolivette (physics and engineering) are administering the grants.
Finally, junior Elizabeth VandenBerg of Beverly Hills, Michigan, was selected as a GTE Academic All-American in swimming. We prize this award because it is given on the basis of exceptionality in academics and outstanding performance in intercollegiate sport. An accounting major, Elizabeth has been an NCAA All-American 15 times in her career.
It's That Joyful, Intergenerational Thing
Annual Fund - College educations today are very costly. Fortunately, no one ever pays the full cost. At state institutions, these educations are heavily subsidized by our taxes. At private institutions like Hope College, these educations are subsidized, in part, by alumni and friends so that the price tag affixed to the education is less than the actual cost of delivering it. Applicable federal, state, and institutional aid -- the latter also made possible through the generosity of alumni and friends of the college -- further reduce the price students pay.
I want to thank those of you who have helped the current generation of students by responding to the college's annual fund appeal(s). For those of you who have not yet responded this fiscal year, I want to encourage you to use the enclosed envelope and do so before our fiscal year ends on June 30. Doing for the current generation of students what others did for many Hope students in the past is crucial to the continued relevance of this "joyful, intergenerational thing."
The most nationally reputable institutions boast funding support from at least 60 percent of their alumni. Last year, Hope's alumni support was at 39 percent. Given Hope's stature, we should be at 50 percent or higher. All gifts large and small are important. Foundations always want to know the extent to which those closest to the institution are financially supportive. There is a window of opportunity before June 30 to improve Hope's foundation status by increasing both the dollar amount and the percent of donor participation. Please join with other financially faithful Hope supporters by responding today.
Capital Campaign - In addition to the annual fund, Hope is about to launch the largest capital campaign in its history to address three major challenges on campus: 1) expanding and renovating the Peale Science Center, 2) initiating other campus development including the construction of the Martha Miller Center for the departments of dance, communication, and modern/classical languages, and 3) increasing the endowment to keep a Hope education affordable for talented and deserving students. Hope has a long tradition of not using the tuition money of current students to fund capital projects such as new buildings. Instead, the campus has benefited from the generosity of alumni and friends whose financial support exemplifies a former generation helping a future one.
Estate Gifts - A third way in which a former generation helps a succeeding one is through planned or estate gifts. These commitments can and do have a major impact on the future vitality of any college. Bill Anderson, longtime vice president for business and finance, contends that there is a direct relationship between the perceived academic stature of institutions and their endowments.
When we arrived at Hope, Martie and I wanted to make a commitment to the college in all three areas. Thus, we made a contribution to the annual fund, we committed a multi-year gift to the upcoming capital campaign, and we included Hope College in our estate plan. I don't mention this in a boastful way but, rather, with a joyful spirit. We don't give to Hope because everything at Hope is perfect. It isn't. And, we don't give to Hope because we like everything that happens here. We don't. We include Hope among our charitable gifts because we believe in the mission of the college, because we trust the people of Hope to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to them, and because helping current and future students gives us great joy. Even as we know a former generation helped us when we were college students so, too, we want to help future generations. So today, I respectfully ask each one of you to consider Hope in your gifting plans in ways commensurate with the way God has blessed you. Perhaps you have learned with us that the appropriate axiom is not "give until it hurts" but, rather, "give until it feels good." It will "feel good," I assure you, when your gift becomes an investment in a Hope College education that assists young women and men in becoming all that God intends for them to be. Yes, "it's that joyful, intergenerational thing" that makes it all possible.
Recruiting at Hope is a sophisticated process, but it always begins by identifying students who would both benefit from and contribute to the Hope experience. We recruit best when we envision the individualized effort of recruiting each student-and repeat it 750 times for each freshman class.
Perhaps you know of a student (or students) who would be an especially good match for the challenging Christian liberal arts education offered at Hope College. I welcome your suggestions of prospective students.
Worth of a Hope Degree
My single professional passion is to lead Hope to new levels of achievement. I am very intent on insuring that the Hope experience will be better today than yesterday -- and better still tomorrow. The worth of past, present, and future Hope College degrees depends on our success. Thank you for your part in helping to achieve our mission with distinction!