A large student body will put the Hope campus to solid use when the college's 139th academic year begins later this month.

A large student body will put the Hope campus to solid use when the college's 139th academic year begins later this month.

A large incoming freshman class and strong retention of returning students have the college once again anticipating a student body of 2,900-plus, perhaps even comparable in size to last year's record of 2,943.

This summer's major building project took place within last summer's major building project. In June and July, the college's new studio organ by J.W. Walker & Sons Ltd. of Suffolk, England, was installed, with representatives of the company spending several weeks on campus to assemble and tune the instrument. The studio room itself was added to Nykerk Hall of Music during the summer of 1999.

In other work, 71-year-old Dimnent Memorial Chapel was refurbished both within and without. The outside stonework was cleaned and its mortar repaired as needed. The lead joints of the stained glass windows received attention, and Lexan covers were placed over the windows to protect them from the elements in the future. The pews were refinished, and portions of the building were painted. In addition, the second floor of the Van Wylen Library is being recarpeted this summer.

The Hope community will have an opportunity to appreciate the work in the chapel early in the new academic year, which will open formally on Sunday, Aug. 27, at 2 p.m. with a convocation in the building. Dr. Gerald L. Sittser '72 of Spokane, Wash., who is a member of the religion faculty at Whitworth College, will present the address.

The public is invited to the opening convocation. Admission is free.

Dr. Sittser grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich. After graduating from Hope, he earned an M.Div. degree at Fuller Theological Seminary.

He served as an associate pastor at Emmanuel Reformed Church in Paramount, Calif., for five years, and then as chaplain at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, for six years before returning to school, this time at the University of Chicago, to earn his doctorate in the history of Christianity under Dr. Martin E. Marty.

He has been teaching in the religion department at Whitworth College since 1989.

He has written five books: The Adventure and Loving Across Our Differences (both published by InterVarsity Press), A Cautious Patriotism: The American Churches and the Second World War (University of North Carolina Press), A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss (Zondervan) and The Will of God as a Way of Life (Zondervan). He speaks frequently at churches and Christian conferences as well as on college campuses.

He has three children: Catherine, age 17; David, age 15; and John, age 11. In his spare time he enjoys woodworking, beekeeping, gardening, coaching and playing sports, backpacking, music and reading.

Residence halls for Hope's new students will open on Friday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. Orientation events will begin that evening and will continue through Monday, Aug. 28.

Returning students are not to arrive on campus before noon on Sunday, Aug. 27. Classes will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 8 a.m.