A conference at Hope College will bring together faculty leaders at Christian colleges universities from around the nation in considering how their institutions can maintain and increase their academic excellence while nurturing and preserving their Christian identity.

The conference, "Academic Excellence and Christian Mission: The Chair's Role in a Both/And Approach," will run Wednesday and Thursday, May 25-26. The event's focus will be on helping the chairpeople of academic departments better identify, hire, retain and nurture faculty who will contribute to both dimensions of their institutions.

The conference will begin Wednesday afternoon and continue through mid-afternoon on Thursday, and will feature three major addresses as well focus sessions during which the participants will have an opportunity to share insights with each other.

Dr. Mark Roche, who is the I.A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame, will present "Faithful and Excellent."

Dr. Michael T. Ingram, who is chair of the Department of Communication Studies and director of faculty development at Whitworth College, will present "Searches That Work: Finding Candidates that Promote Mission and Excellence."

Dr. Richard Hughes, who is Distinguished Professor of Religion of the Center for Faith and Learning at Pepperdine University, will present "Tapping the Resources of Christian Traditions for Academic Excellence." The event, which is a regional conference of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, is being coordinated by Dr. Caroline Simon, who is a professor of philosophy at Hope.

Based at Christ College of Valparaiso University in Indiana, the Lilly program is a national network of more than 60 church-related colleges and universities interested in exploring Christian understandings of the nature of the academic vocation.

Simon has been involved with the network for several years. In 1996 she directed its first Summer Institute for college educators, and she also led a recent three-year project, supported by a grant from the program, to develop models for mentoring new faculty at Christian colleges and universities. In keeping with her ongoing interest in Christian higher education, earlier this year she and Dr. James Kennedy of the Hope history faculty co-authored a book that explores the history and development of Hope's religious identity.