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Presidential Update Summer 2008
To Hope College Alumni, Parents, and Friends:
The 2007-08 academic year will most certainly be recorded as one of the most gratifying years at Hope College. Amidst a very positive campus spirit, student, staff, and faculty achievements were considerable. We are making good progress on our strategic themes, enrollment is very strong, and finances are on target with projections. I find myself looking at our various metrics and saying, “What’s not to like about Hope?” We are thankful to our Trustees for their leadership and to our constituency for their support. And, we acknowledge with gratitude that God has blessed the efforts of the Hope community in ways beyond what we have deserved or expected.
How should we measure success? One way would be to identify this year’s accomplishments relative to our mission, which is to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith.
Another would be to identify our achievements relative to the four broad dimensions of student development: intellectual, spiritual, social, and physical. Let’s look at each in turn.
Life is full of competitive situations, and there is no dearth of competition in higher education. I like that! When things are going well as they are now, my responsibility is to guard our team against complacency and keep us focused on what will make us even better. This is my current passion. We are good, but we’re not so good that we can rest on our laurels. There are many challenges that face us during these difficult national and international times; higher education and Hope are certainly not immune to them.
Still, I like our position and our “package.” There are very few colleges that can match the overall worth of the Hope College educational experience. Hope provides the entire “package.” We educate unwaveringly for the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. This we do with the utmost integrity by charging even less than what it costs to deliver the experience. May God continue to bless us in abundance as we strive to more fully fulfill our mission.
I have been on probably 300 different college campuses as a student athlete, coach, professor, dean, and president. I honestly believe that no one does it better than Hope on the four major dimensions of intellectual, spiritual, social, and physical development. I say with integrity to those who would join the Hope family, “If you want to be part of a grand tradition—exceptionality in academics, superiority in intercollegiate sport and co-curricular activities, and excellence in character and Christian faith development—align with Hope. It will positively influence your life for this time and for eternity.
Hope has a beautiful campus. Guests continually remind us that our eclectic collection of historic and modern buildings and manicured grounds are appreciated.
A campus like ours deserves to be maintained. Each year we budget approximately $2.5 million to address roofing, painting, furniture, equipment, plumbing, electrical, and safety issues. This year Kollen Hall is getting a major interior facelift. We are also moving forward with the adaptive restoration of Graves Hall. This is a costly ($5.5 million) but necessary project that is preserving and making handicap accessible one of Hope’s most treasured facilities. Oh yes, it was built in 1892 for $40,000!
We also had the privilege this spring to dedicate new baseball and softball stadiums. The softball stadium is named in honor of Tom and Karla Wolters while the press box is named in honor of our longtime colleague Dr. Anne Irwin, former coach, kinesiology professor, and women’s athletic director. The baseball stadium is named in honor of longtime volunteer assistant coach Ron Boeve and his wife Sunny, while the press box there is named in honor of Norm (Bunko) Japinga, our former equipment manager and current transportation assistant.
College presidents are frequently asked about enrollment. I’m pleased to report that our enrollment for next year will be at capacity once again at 3,000 on-campus students for the fall semester. We received 2,950 applications for 800 freshman spots. We have the luxury of a wait list of approximately 250 qualified students who would yet like to matriculate at Hope. The composite high school GPA will be 3.79 with an average ACT exceeding 26. Thanks to all of you who shared student names with us and encouraged talented students to consider Hope.
The Trustees approved the following schedule of student charges for the 2008-09 academic year:
The total represents a 4.7 percent increase over charges for the 2007-08 academic year, and for the third consecutive year is far below the national average. Our pricing has been encouraged by our Trustees and is enabled by several non-academic stewardship measures implemented by our finance team. Our desire, through pricing and financial aid, is to keep a Hope College education affordable for all who desire to study here.
We continue to aggressively pursue our strategic plan for increasing minority and international enrollment at Hope. Attending conferences which feature “best practices,” hosting a variety of events on our campus, and implementing new strategic initiatives in recruiting and campus life are making a difference. Retention is excellent. Never before in my 23 years as a college president have I seen students of color and international students as happy as they have been at Hope the past two years. They have felt wanted, and their involvement has become part of the celebrated fabric of Hope.
In response to recent faculty discussions and actions, I have established a Campus Sustainability Task Force to complement work already undertaken and to advance several initiatives in our strategic plan. Essentially, we want to explore and implement additional measures to make Hope a more environmentally friendly campus.
The task force membership is representative of the entire campus and is chaired by Greg Maybury, director of operations and technology, and Steve Bouma-Prediger, chair of the Department of Religion and former member of the Board of Trustees.
You Can Help Hope!
The college's fiscal year ends on June 30. We are dependent on gifts large and small from alumni and friends to keep a Hope education affordable. Your generosity does make a difference, and so I invite, even encourage, you to send a gift to the Hope Fund, Hope College, P.O. Box 9000, Holland, MI 49422-9000 or give a gift on-line by visiting the Hope fund web site, www.hope.edu/hopefund. Thank you!
Faculty and Staff
I am so pleased with Hope’s faculty and staff. Our faculty is talented and committed to the mission of the college and especially to their interaction with students. Likewise, our staff is dedicated to facilitating the teaching-learning enterprise. Recently, one of our competitors said that Hope is “clicking on all cylinders.” My response was, “That’s the way it’s supposed to be—trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends all working together providing exciting, memorable, life-changing experiences for the students we so much cherish.”
Hope is very special, even unique in higher education. The extent of research and scholarship as a complement to teaching is noteworthy. To combine this challenging intellectual dimension with so many opportunities for spiritual development is at the heart of what we do. Socially and physically we also attempt to develop students in ways that will enable them to perform well over an entire lifetime in a world that increasingly requires global understanding and diplomacy. To such a noble calling we pledge ourselves anew.
James E. Bultman, President