John H. Jacobson, president of Hope College since 1987, has announced that he will retire in mid-1999.
Jacobson and Kermit Campbell, chair of the
college's Board of Trustees, made the announcement on
Thursday, Jan. 22, in conjunction with the regular January
meeting of the trustees.
Jacobson noted that he was announcing his plans 18
months in advance to help provide the college with time to
conduct a search for his successor, to help ensure as smooth
a transition as he experienced when he arrived. He became
Hope's 10th president on July 1, 1987, the day after Gordon
Van Wylen completed his tenure. Jacobson plans to step down
on June 30, 1999.
"This is an announcement and by no means a
farewell," Jacobson said. "The retirement date is nearly a
year and a half in the future, and I fully expect my time
between now and then to be active and productive. The
announcement today gives the college ample time to plan and
organize an excellent search process."
"For the moment, what I want to say is that it has
been and continues to be a privilege to serve Hope College
as president," he said. "I can imagine nothing that I might
have been doing between July 1, 1987, and June 30, 1999,
that would have been as challenging, rewarding and
significant as the presidency of Hope College."
In a statement issued in conjunction with the
announcement, Campbell reflected on the contributions
Jacobson has made in his decade with the college.
"As a team builder, John Jacobson would never take
the credit for himself, but it's no coincidence that his
presidency has been marked by significant gains for Hope
College," he said. "Enrollment has grown to record levels,
the endowment has more than quadrupled and the college has
become even better known nationally for the quality of the
education it provides.
"Much, of course, has been at work in the
successes, but I believe that John's approach to working
with others and his appreciation of the character of Hope
College have played particularly significant roles,"
"On the one hand, he has had the wisdom and
humility to encourage, support and involve others in
realizing their and the college's potential--I think, for
example, of the 'Hope in the Future' strategic planning of
the late 1980s and the more recent "Visioning" process,
which involved hundreds in charting the college's future,"
he said. "At the same time, however, he has challenged us
to be deliberate about the college's long-held mission of
pursuing academic excellence and inquiry in the context of
the Christian faith. He has helped keep Hope true to its
calling and character.
"He has been a true servant-leader, meeting the
needs and valuing the gifts of those in the Hope community
while at the same time keeping all of us focused on the
larger picture," Campbell said. "The combination has helped
Hope College to thrive, and will continue to do so well
beyond John's presidency and into the next millennium."
Hope's enrollment in the fall of 1987 was 2,710;
this fall it was 2,911. The college's endowment was $20
million in 1987, and is currently about $91 million.
During Jacobson's decade, Hope has had one
national and two state "Professors of the Year," and three
students named "British Marshall Scholars." College guides
consistently rate Hope highly--"U.S. News and World Report,"
for example, ranks Hope among the nation's 160 best liberal
Hope is the only private, four-year, liberal arts
college in the country to have national accreditation in
art, dance, music and theatre. A report by the National
Science Foundation in 1997 placed Hope in the top 25
nationally among baccalaureate colleges as a source of Ph.D.
recipients from 1991 to 1995 in the natural, physical and
The college has won the Michigan Intercollegiate
Athletic Association all-sports championship five times
during the past decade.
The college's "Hope in the Future" capital
campaign, which concluded in 1994, raised $58.1 million.
Additions to the campus have included the Knickerbocker
Theatre (1988), Lugers Fieldhouse (1991), DeWitt Tennis
Center (1994), Haworth Conference and Learning Center (1997)
and Cook Residence Hall (1997).
While Hope will be busy seeking his successor
during the next year-and-a-half, Jacobson plans to place a
major focus on what he sees to be three significant on-going
needs: additional endowment funds, expansion of the
college's science facilities and creation of a master plan
to determine long-term development goals for the campus.
Prior to coming to Hope, Jacobson was provost and
vice president for academic affairs at Empire State College
in New York, where he had served since 1972. He had
previously been a faculty member in philosophy at Hamilton
College in New York and dean of the faculty and vice
president for academic affairs at Florida Presbyterian
College (now Eckerd College).
He holds his bachelor's degree in philosophy from
Swarthmore College, and master's and doctoral degrees in
philosophy from Yale University.
His wife, Jeanne, is also on the college staff,
serving as a senior research fellow with the A.C. Van Raalte
Institute for Historical Studies and as an adjunct professor
of education since 1996. They are members of Hope Church in