A tradition of leadership well-acquainted with Hope College continues with the election of Joel Bouwens as chairperson of the Board of Trustees.
Bouwens, previously vice-chairperson and a member of the board since 1993, was elected during the board's May meeting. He succeeds J. Kermit Campbell of Traverse City, who had been chairperson since 1995 and a member of the board since 1983, who is retiring from the board.
Hope President James E. Bultman praised both leaders for their dedication and the quality of their service to the college.
"Kermit's experience, his skill in leading the board and his wise counsel have made a positive difference for Hope," Bultman said. "He has served the college with distinction for 20 years."
"He was also for me personally a superb chair," he said. "He initially gave me space as president, while always letting me know that he was available at any time I would find it beneficial to seek his advice. I am very grateful that he continued in a second term as chair when I began my presidency in 1999."
"Joel, too, is a person I have long respected," Bultman said. "He is held in high esteem by his peers, is knowledgeable about the college and shares a passion for Hope."
"He has a passion for Hope, both because of his own experience here and the experiences of his entire family," he said. "We together see no reason why Hope cannot be at the very pinnacle with respect to providing exceptional academics and a vibrant Christian faith dimension."
Bouwens, who is a 1974 Hope graduate, is a shareholder in the firm of Cunningham Dalman PC, Attorneys, in Holland. Reared in Zeeland, he was drawn to Hope as a student through Reformed Church and family ties, and the college's reputation. His own positive experience has been reinforced by the Hope experiences of family members including his wife, children and siblings.
"I'm enthusiastic about the mission of the college," he said. "I felt very good about my decision to come there as a student. I felt it served me well, and I felt it served my family well."
He affirms the president's vision for the college.
"I'd like to see Hope build on and even further its reputation for excellent academics. I'd like to see Hope continue to be recognized for its vibrant Christian dimension," he said. "And I'd like Hope to continue to be a place where there's a real sense of community--where faculty, staff and administration continue to show in so many ways that they care deeply about each other and Hope students."
In conjunction with his service on the board, he is a member of the cabinet of the college's "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" fund-raising campaign. He also chaired the 10-member search committee that selected Bultman as president in 1998.
He was a member of the Steering Committee of the "Hope in the Future" campaign in the early 1990s, and also participated in the "Hope in the Future" strategic planning process.
Bouwens has been an alumni class representative, and with his brothers John and James, who are also Hope alumni, helped establish the Bouwens Family Scholarship Fund, which honors his parents, Lila and the late Glenn Bouwens, who was a 1950 graduate.
Bouwens graduated with a business administration and economics major, and as a student also participated in the Baker Scholars program and the Fraternal Society. He earned his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1976.
He has been active in the community and church in a variety of ways. He and his wife, Marianne, a Hope classmate, co-chaired Western Theological Seminary's "Campaign for Western in the 21st Century" with Max and Connie Boersma. He was previously on the board of Camp Geneva, is a past president and board member of Resthaven Inc., and has also been involved in Young Life. He and Marianne are members of First Reformed Church in Zeeland.
Bouwens and Marianne have three children, Tom, Dan and Martha. Tom and Dan graduated from Hope in 2000 and this May respectively, and are both attending the University of Michigan's school of dentistry. Martha is currently a junior at the college.