A variety of highly visible improvements will greet students when they arrive at Hope College later this month.

Most noticeably, the new science center has progressed from being a hole in the ground to sporting girderwork that provides a sense of the building's final shape. Construction will continue throughout the coming year.

As a part of the science center project, a home on 12th Street has been moved to 14th Street between College and Columbia avenues. The relocated home, named for its former owner, retired music professor Dr. Anthony Kooiker, will house seven male students beginning this fall.

The project is also prompting the relocation of psychology's offices from Peale to an office building that the college has acquired on the north side of 10th Street east of Central Avenue.

In other work, the three northwestern racquetball courts in the Dow Center have been converted for use as weight and fitness rooms, each 2,400 square feet. The weight room will have new equipment, and the fitness room will contain a mix of old and new. The former weight room is being made into a dance studio, and the wrestling room next door, also a dance studio, is having its floor refinished. All four rooms will be air conditioned.

The theatre lobby patio of the DeWitt Center has been replaced. The look east of DeWitt has also changed, with the college and city having replaced neighboring street lights with lamp posts that offer a period feel.

The college is adding two parking lots. Already- extant is the former bank lot on 10th Street between Central and College avenues. The college will complete a lot on 13th Street east of the railroad tracks this fall.

Two major property acquisitions will facilitate future campus development. Hope has purchased the Western Foundry property on Fairbanks Avenue south of Eighth Street, part of the site acquisition for the DeVos Fieldhouse. The community portion of the effort to raise funds for the fieldhouse was announced at the site on Tuesday, July 9.

Hope has also purchased Lincoln School, located on Columbia Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets, with the site destined to house the Martha Miller Center for the departments of communication and modern and classical languages. The college hopes to start construction on the center in the spring.

In addition to the work at Hope, neighboring Western Theological Seminary is engaged in a major construction project of its own. The seminary broke ground this summer on a new wing being added to the north side of its main building, near Dimnent Chapel.

The opening convocation for the coming school year, the college's 141st academic year, will be held on Sunday, Aug. 25, at 2 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The public is invited, and admission is free. MacTV will carry the convocation live on local cable.

The convocation address will be delivered by author and attorney Dean L. Overman, a 1965 Hope graduate now living in Washington, D.C., who will present "Spera in Deo" (the college's motto, "Hope in God").

Overman is a senior partner at Winston & Strawn, an 840-attorney national law firm that represents banks and multi-national corporations. He was partner-in-charge of the firm's Washington, D.C., office from 1978 to 1986, and worked with his partner in the firm, former Vice President Walter Mondale, on a variety of domestic and international matters.

Prior to joining Winston & Strawn, he served in the Ford White House, first as a White House Fellow for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, and then as associate director for policy review. The White House Fellows program provides a year-long opportunity to participate in government at the highest levels; 11-19 men and women each year work full-time as a special assistant to a cabinet member or senior presidential advisor. He was previously a partner in the law firm of D'Ancona, Pflaum, Wyatt & Riskind.

Overman's publications reflect his range of interests, and include "A Case Against Accident and Self- Organization," an interdisciplinary book on logic, molecular biology and particle astrophysics which argues that scientific reasoning supports belief that intelligence lies behind creation of the universe. He is author of a book on effective writing style for business and the profession, and co-author of a book on financial valuation of an acquisition candidate.

He is author of a theological/physics article on Stephen Hawking's no boundary proposal, published by "Princeton Theological Review." He is also author or co- author of chapters in five law books and six law review articles on banking, commercial, corporate, tax and securities law, one selected by "Corporate Counsel's Annual" and "Corporate Practice Commentator" as one of the 10 best corporate law reviews.

Overman's additional professional activities include speaking on authentic religious pluralism at the conference "The World After September 11: The Political, Economic, Military and Spiritual Challenge," held at Windsor Castle in England earlier this year. During 1999-2000, he was a Templeton Scholar at Oxford University. He has also been a visiting scholar and officer of Harvard University, an adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia Law School. He co-authored the plan that led to creation of the nationwide "Communities in Schools Inc.," which now serves more than 2,500,000 students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

He graduated from Hope with a psychology major, with additional emphasis in literature and philosophy. He was class president, co-founded Young Life Leadership at the college, co-captained the men's varsity basketball team and was a member of the golf team. He completed his law degree at the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and also attended Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of California and University of Chicago Graduate Schools of Business.

Residence halls for Hope's new students will open on Friday, Aug. 23, at 10 a.m. Orientation events will begin that evening and will continue through Monday, Aug. 26.

Returning students are not to arrive on campus before noon on Sunday, Aug. 25. Classes will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 27, at 8 a.m.