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Presidential Update Summer 2007

To Hope College Alumni, Parents, and Friends:

The day dawned bright and sunny. Even the Dutch meteorologists on campus could predict accurately that the graduation activities would be conducted outside at Holland Municipal Stadium. This pleased everyone because there is unlimited seating at the stadium, and extended families are able to witness the Commencement activities.

It was an idyllic day. Temperatures were more like summer than early spring, and the crowd in the stadium seats as well as on the surrounding grassy knolls numbered approximately 5,000. In her Commencement address, English Professor Dianne Portfleet challenged our graduates to commit to what is really important in life. One year ago, Dianne was selected by students as the Hope Outstanding Professor/Educator. Seven hundred twenty graduates received their Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Nursing, or Bachelor of Music degree.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Samuel Kobia, president of the World Council of Churches and father of graduating senior, Matua, delivered the Baccalaureate address in Dimnent Chapel speaking of hope as an “attitude that transforms our actions.” Choosing the title of his address, Hope Does Not Disappoint Us, from Romans 5:55, Dr. Kobia indicated that “most Biblical commentators do not think that Paul was speaking explicitly about Hope College in Holland, Michigan!!”

The Class of 2007 is a class with significant achievements in academics and co-curricular activities. They will be missed!

Enrollment for Fall 2007

Even as we say goodbye to the members of one class and wish for them considerable achievement in their careers and fulfillment in their lives, we begin to lay the groundwork for the arrival of the Class of 2011. To date, we have 2,741 applications for 790 freshman spots. The class will be similar to recent incoming classes with an average high school GPA of 3.74 and a mean ACT of 26. One desirable improvement is that the number of students of color has increased over the last several years and will exceed 10 percent of our freshman class. While this is not yet where we would like it to be, it is progress for which we are grateful.

Hope is essentially a residential college with on-campus housing for almost 2,500 of our 3,000 students. When the college is at maximum capacity, as it will be this fall, the housing of students becomes a complex assignment. It is, nonetheless, a challenge for which we are grateful.

Vice President for Admissions

I am very pleased to report that William Vanderbilt, Jr. ’88 emerged from our national search as the vice president for admissions candidate of choice. Bill comes to Hope with impressive credentials, albeit outside of the academy. The search committee was particularly impressed with Bill’s demonstrated leadership ability, his skill in technology and systems analysis, his advanced education in marketing at the prestigious Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University, his passion for Hope, and his commitment to the Christian faith. We look forward now to this new era of leadership in our recruiting efforts. Bill will begin his duties on July 1.

Distinguished Alumni

Hope has so many alumni who distinguish themselves in their careers and in service to others, yet it is possible each year for the selection committee to identify only a few to receive Distinguished Alumni Awards. This year, the recipients were Larry Siedentop ’57 and Carl Ver Beek ’59. Receiving the newly established Young Alumni Award were Meredith Arwady ’00 and Jodi Kurtze ’01. It is such a special occasion to honor the recipients at the annual Alumni Banquet on Commencement weekend. My only regret on this evening is that our incoming freshmen are not here to see what Hope alumni contribute to our society following their graduation from Hope. Their lives present so much to emulate. My hope and prayer always are that our current students and incoming freshmen will aspire to maximize their abilities to the fullest extent so that their lives will glorify God and serve humankind.

Commissioner’s Cup Award

For the seventh time in the last eight years and the 23rd time in the last 29 years, Hope College has won the Commissioner’s Cup for superiority in intercollegiate sport in the MIAA. Having won this distinction so often in the last quarter century, we could be tempted to take it for granted. We do not! The recruiting, planning, practicing, strategizing, and performing efforts on the part of our coaches and athletes are considerable. To do this while at the same time heeding our exhortations to keep sport in perspective presents a very delicate balancing act. It is my impression that Hope coaches and athletes maintain the balance better than their counterparts at any other institution I know. We pride ourselves on having coaches who also teach real college classes and exhibit in their personal lives a balance of commitments to teaching, scholarship, family, church, and community. Our coaches and athletes who receive teaching awards, scholarships, hall-of-fame designations, professional leadership awards, and all-American recognitions are all tangible evidences of the balance and excellence we seek in our intercollegiate program.

Academic, Spiritual Life, and Co-curricular Travel Abroad

Ours is a global society, more so now than ever before. We take educating our students to become international citizens seriously by providing a variety of travel experiences. Most of this travel takes place during the summer months outside of the regular semester program. The primary areas for this activity come from the academic, spiritual life, and co-curricular programs. Typically, the spiritual life efforts are service-oriented, and students pay for much of their own way with some philanthropic gift support. The academic programs generally bear academic credit for which students pay tuition. Co-curricular trips are funded partly by participants and partly by the college. This past year, international travel took our students to Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, England, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Scotland, Senegal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, and Uganda.

Physical Plant Projects

Several physical plant improvements are underway this summer. In addition to the general maintenance of our facilities and equipment replacements (which total approximately $2 million each year), we have this year authorized the improvement of the main electrical loop on campus. This is a largely undetected but necessary infrastructure improvement that will enable us to better serve the electrical needs of the campus. We also are in the final stages of planning for the restoration of historic Graves Hall. This is an exciting project for us, but one complicated by new building codes imposed on a historical building. We are working to maximize usage of this magnificent building even as we retain its historical integrity.

The Trustees also approved a modest renovation of our softball and baseball fields. The playing surfaces are quite satisfactory, but the seating has always been less than desirable. We are installing permanent seating with less obstructive dugouts and improved press boxes. Restrooms are also a part of this project, which is being funded by gifts to the college designated for the renovation. The stadiums will be named for colleagues Karla Wolters (head softball coach) and her husband, Tom, and Ron Boeve (assistant baseball coach) and his wife, Sunny.

Endowment Initiative

At their spring meeting, the Trustees affirmed a focused effort on building the college’s endowment for student scholarships and faculty support. This effort is consistent with the college’s strategic plan and will be coordinated in coming years by our Advancement team.

Dark Days in Higher Education

There is no matter that is higher on my agenda than the safety of our campus community with its 3,200 students and 700 employees. The horrific events this past spring at Virginia Tech have been sobering for all of us. Never in our darkest thoughts could we imagine that such a tragedy could take place on a college campus in this country. This and other events, both in our country and abroad, make us realize how vulnerable we all are and how fragile life really is. We grieve with the Virginia Tech community.

No campus can guarantee the absolute safety of any of us. We can, however, increase the probability of a safe and secure campus, and we take doing so very seriously. We plan annually with our security personnel, the Holland Police Department, and the Sheriff’s offices of both Ottawa and Allegan counties for a variety of possible emergencies. The college spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to upgrade alarm systems and its overall campus security. Alerts can be made both electronically and through a network of designated personnel. Provisions have been made for communication and command centers as well as on- and off-campus shelters. Access to our facilities is limited by card and code access. We have the ability to quickly and automatically lock down main entrances to all of our buildings from a central station. We run safety drills of various kinds each year and have even conducted mock hostage situations with law enforcement personnel. And we recently learned that Holland is considered the fourth-safest city in the country! Still, we know that our security rests in large measure with the cooperation and vigilance of the entire campus community.

You are also aware of the recent media attention regarding the scandals in the student loan program. There are two institutional options for students seeking loans for college. One is the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), and the other is direct lending with the U.S. Department of Education.

In the FFELP, some colleges have developed preferred lists of private lenders in return for favors (kickbacks) from the lenders. Hope wisely chose direct lending many years ago and thus is totally removed from the shady practices occurring with FFELP. Incidentally, if all colleges shifted to direct lending, it would save the federal government an estimated $12 billion annually!

You Can Help Hope!

In this issue of the update I always ask for your assistance in recommending students for the Hope experience. Our recent successes in admissions are directly attributable to those who take the time to recommend talented students for Hope. Thank you for using the enclosed card to assist with this process.

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!

James E. Bultman, President