By Gary Brown,

Hope College President Jim Bultman believes it’s time to start building momentum on the Division III identity campaign.

The new chair of the Division III Presidents Council said after the NCAA Convention on Saturday that the strong foundation the division has constructed under presidential leadership over the last year sets the stage for individual institutions to begin framing their identity.

“People have a habit of thinking that they’re better than others think they are,” Bultman said. “Now that’s better that than the other way around, of course, but the identity initiative is important for Division III in that we have some distinct opportunities to convince others that we’re indeed as good as we think we are.”

Bultman and Western Connecticut State University President Jim Schmotter began their terms as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Presidents Council at the close of the Jan. 15 Division III business session.

Bultman, who had been vice chair of the Council in 2010, replaces Widener University President Jim Harris, whose term as chair and as a Council member ended.

Bultman, whose Council term extends through the 2013 Convention, praised his colleague Harris for his contributions, not just to Division III but to the Association overall.

“His leadership has been exceptional,” Bultman said. “Three contributions stand out in particular. The first is his involvement and leadership in the rollout of the Division III identity campaign. He also was the division’s representative in the negotiations that produced the new broadcast-rights agreement with Turner Sports and CBS, and he was on the five-person search committee that identified Mark Emmert as the new NCAA president. So it was a big year for Jim Harris, and he served our interests very well.”

As for the year ahead, Bultman said continuing the success of the identity campaign is priority No. 1.

“Up to this point we’ve rather sheepishly said that we’re the division that doesn’t award scholarships, but we’re really quite a bit more than that,” he said. “Our institutions provide student-athletes the opportunity to follow their dreams and pursue their passions without having so much of their time disproportionately devoted to athletics.”

Bultman, a 1963 graduate of Hope, became the 11th president of the college in July 1999. He joined the college as a faculty member in 1968 before chairing the department of education from 1976 to 1982. He was dean of the social sciences from 1982 until 1985. Bultman is familiar with intercollegiate athletics, having served as head baseball coach at Hope from 1971 to 1985 and as an assistant football coach from 1970 to 1984.

He became president at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, in 1985 and stayed in that role until moving to Hope in 1999.

Bultman graduated from Hope with a major in chemistry. He holds a master’s degree and doctorate in educational leadership from Western Michigan University.

Schmotter, whose term on the Presidents Council also extends through the 2013 Convention, became president of Western Connecticut State in August 2004.

He arrived there from Western Michigan, where he served as dean of the Haworth College of Business for seven years. Before that, he served as dean of the College of Business and Economics at Lehigh University. In his 14 years at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, he served as associate dean and director of international studies, and taught business history and international management.

Schmotter earned his bachelor’s degree in history at Muskingum College. He received his doctorate in Colonial American history at Northwestern University and studied higher education administration at Columbia University.