Major Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
Exploration of Vocation
Posted November 27, 2002
HOLLAND -- A major grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
will enhance Hope College's role in helping students to
consider the role of vocation or calling in their lives.
Hope has received $2 million from the Endowment
for its "Program for the Theological Exploration of
Vocation." The multi-faceted effort, which will begin in
the fall of 2003, will encourage students to reflect on how
their faith commitments are related to their career choices
and what it means to be "called" to lives of service.
"This program will be a tremendously rich
experience for our students," said Dr. James E. Bultman,
president of Hope College.
"The grant allows Hope the opportunity to be
intentional about vocation and call on the part of all our
students, and specifically to encourage young women and men
to consider Christian ministry in their vocational choice,"
he said. "We're deeply grateful to Lilly Endowment for its
recognition of the need to address this area and its vision
in providing the funds to implement it."
Hope is one of 39 colleges and universities in the
country to receive grants totaling $76.8 million in the
third round of the Endowment's initiative to support
"Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation."
The Endowment invited the colleges to reflect on
their particular strengths, history and mission in designing
proposals so that the programs would fit each institution
well. "Consequently, the result is a wonderful amalgam of
creative programs that are clearly well-thought-out and have
a real chance of success," said Craig Dykstra, Endowment
vice president for religion.
The Hope program has four main emphases. It is
designed to help students and faculty explore the liberal
arts as a shared vocation that enables them to discern what
gives them their deepest joys as human beings and as
Christians. It will help students explore how their future
work can meet the world's most pressing needs. It will
strengthen the college's partnership with the college's
parent denomination, the Reformed Church in America, and
with the wider Christian community in identifying and
nurturing leaders for congregations and the church. And it
will encourage faculty and staff to discover deeper and
wider understandings of their own vocations.
As encouraged by the Endowment, Hope developed the
program's priorities with the college's historical character
in mind, according to Dr. William Reynolds, who is dean for
the arts and humanities and was the co-chair with Dr. Nancy
Miller, dean for the social sciences, of the seven-member
committee that drafted the project proposal.
"It's not that we're taking something that is
foreign to the 130-some year tradition and history of Hope
College," he said. "The idea is already part of Hope
College's mission and of its educational program."
"But we're taking things that are part of our
mission, part of our tradition, and we're working on doing
some of them better, and introducing others that are just as
integral but that we haven't previously been able to
introduce because of funding," Reynolds said.
The committee's approach was affirmed, he noted,
through a series of discussions with other members of the
Hope community, including faculty and students.
"We were overwhelmed by the amount of interest
that people showed," Reynolds said. "The committee
genuinely believes that we were supported by a community,
and what we've put together is our best representation of
the thinking of the community as a whole and the values of
the community as a whole."
The program's first emphasis, "Liberal Arts as
Vocation: Discovering One's Deep Joy," is designed to reach
every student. It will include discussion of vocation in
recruitment materials and during New Student Orientation.
The First-Year Seminar, Senior Seminar and Residence Life
programs will be provided support that will allow for
additional emphasis on discussion of vocation. Hope will
also schedule retreats for students to allow them to
consider the topic.
Through "Specialized Study as Vocation:
Responding to the World's Needs," the college will encourage
students to reflect on vocation in their own area of
specialization. Hope intends to develop pre-professional
and internship programs that will emphasize vocation. The
academic advising program will also place greater emphasis
In "Christian Ministry as Vocation: Responding to
the Church's Needs," Hope will help students consider
careers in the church. Activities will include visits to
seminaries and internships with churches, programs including
lay ministry and parish nursing, and scholarships for
students interested in ministry, including minority students
from RCA congregations.
The fourth emphasis, "Academic Life as Vocation:
Faculty-Staff Support Initiatives," will fund faculty
training, faculty-student collaborative research on vocation
and grants for additional faculty projects focused on
The funding from the Endowment will support
activities at the college for five years, through the spring
of 2008. Administrative support will include a full-time
director, a part-time associate director and a part-time
Hope will provide funds in addition to the grant
for some of the activities. As part of its on-going
assessment of the program, the college will also consider
options for continuing elements of the effort beyond the
In its first round of grants through the
initiative, in 2000, the Endowment awarded a total of $37.7
million to 20 schools. In the second round, in 2001, the
Endowment awarded grants totaling $56.8 million to 29
The third round brings the total of implementation
grants to $171.3 million to 88 schools across the country.
The Endowment also has invested $5.5 million in helping
schools develop planning grants for the awards.
The Endowment is pleased with the outcome.
"Colleges that received grants in earlier rounds
are reporting very successful implementation of their plans-
-their students are eager to engage in theological
reflection as they make their choices about their future,
and many students are seriously considering the ministry as
a career," Dykstra said.
"Furthermore," he said, "people in these schools
are getting together with each other to exchange ideas and
tell each other about the most promising aspects of their
projects, so the 'infrastructure' of connections keeps
building. We think that will greatly enhance both their
common purposes and the Endowment's ultimate objectives of a
talented new generation of ministers leading healthy and
Founded in 1937, the Endowment is an Indianapolis-
based private foundation that supports its founders' wishes
by supporting the causes of religion, community development