Hope College President Dr. James E. Bultman, who has led the college since 1999, has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the 2011-12 school year.
Bultman, who is 69, announced his intention to retire to the campus community on Monday afternoon. He had informed the college's Board of Trustees during the board's spring meeting held on campus on Thursday-Friday, May 5-6.
"I am deeply grateful for a supportive Board of Trustees, a dedicated administrative team, a talented faculty, a resourceful staff and diligent students," he said Monday. "By God's grace and goodness much has been accomplished together."
"I will have been a college president for 27 consecutive years - close to five times the national average," Bultman said. "There is little doubt that this is a privileged position. And it is a special joy to be president of one's alma mater. This is a responsibility I do not take lightly. Indeed, I can say with the psalmist, 'the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.'"
"As for Hope, I can only predict a very bright future as one of the nation's leading Christian liberal arts institutions," he said. "My personal passion, shared by so many, is that Hope will continue to provide an exceptional undergraduate experience in a caring and vibrantly Christian environment. Few colleges aspire to this; fewer still are able to achieve it. Gratefully, Hope is one of these."
"You've given me a rare and privileged opportunity to lead the college I love," Bultman said as he concluded his campus announcement. "Martie and I will treasure your trust in us forever."
Trustees chair Joel G. Bouwens said that a search committee comprised of trustees, alumni, faculty, administrators and students will be constituted and begin its work immediately with a goal of selecting the 12th president of Hope College in time for the 2012-13 school year.
Bultman became the college's 11th president on July 1, 1999. A 1963 Hope graduate, he assumed office having already had more than two decades of direct experience with the college, including his student days.
Bouwens praised Bultman for his dedicated and effective leadership.
"Jim Bultman has worked tirelessly on behalf of Hope throughout his presidency, a passionate and articulate advocate for the distinctive education that Hope provides," said Bouwens, who has served on the board since 1993 and led it since 2003. "His commitment to providing the best for students in both program and facilities has made a lasting difference in creating a stronger Hope College not only for today's students but for those to come."
"No less crucially, he and his wife Martie have touched many students' lives through their active and enthusiastic participation in the day-to-day life of the college," Bouwens said. "They invite students to their home, and regularly attend student scholarly presentations, performances and athletic contests, a reflection of their shared and very real personal interest in students as individuals."
Hope has enjoyed distinction on a variety of external measures during Bultman's tenure, ranging from holding more grants through the National Science Foundation's summer "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" program than any other liberal arts college in the country, to national accreditation in all four arts programs (art,
dance, music, and theatre), to recognition earlier this year as one of only 115 colleges and universities across the country named to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's "2010 Community Engagement Classification," a reflection of the college's institution-wide emphasis on service and service-learning.
During his second year as president, Hope launched the "Legacies: A Vision of Hope" comprehensive campaign, the largest single fund-raising effort in the college's history. The campaign's four major components included construction of the A. Paul Schaap Science Center and renovation of the Peale Science Center; construction of the DeVos Fieldhouse; increasing the endowment; and general campus improvements, including the construction of the Martha Miller Center for communication, modern and classical languages, international education, and multicultural life, and a renovation of Lubbers Hall. When it concluded at the end of 2001, Hope had raised more than $161 million from more than 3,300 donors, well above the goal of $105 million.
In addition, Hope has enhanced its athletic facilities with the new Van Andel Soccer Stadium and upgrades to the baseball and softball stadiums, and completed an adaptive restoration of historic Graves Hall. More recently, he has led the college in updating its mission statement and creating additional missional literature to both provide an overview of the distinctive qualities of Hope and serve as a guide for the future.
The past 12 years have also been a period of steady growth in enrollment, from 2,943 students in 1999 to more than 3,200 students each year since 2006. The college graduated its largest class in its history, 745 students, on Sunday, May 8, and is anticipating one of its largest freshman classes next fall.
Bultman joined the Hope College education faculty in 1968, chaired the department of education from 1976 to 1982, and was dean of the social sciences from 1982 until 1985. He was head baseball coach at Hope from 1971 to 1985, and an assistant football coach from 1970 to 1984.
He took office at Hope having had extensive experience as a college president. From 1985 to 1999, he was president of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. Northwestern, like Hope, is one of three colleges with ties to the Reformed Church in America.
An active leader in higher education circles, Bultman is chair of the Board of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), chair of the Division III Presidents Council of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a member of the Presidents Council of the Michigan Colleges Foundation (MCF), and a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (AICUM).
He is a member of the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce and the Holland Rotary Club, and serves on the Board of Directors at The Bank of Holland, the Board of Directors of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, and the Board of Governors of the Van Andel Institute.
Bultman has served an elected term on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) where he chaired the Student Financial Aid Committee; served as chair of AICUM; and served as chair of the Board of Directors of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Additionally, he was a member of the Council of Presidents of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA); and was chair of the Iowa College Foundation, the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Commission on Campus Concerns for NAICU.
He graduated from Hope with a major in chemistry. He holds a master's degree and doctorate in educational leadership from Western Michigan University.
Before joining Hope's faculty, Bultman taught and coached in the public schools in Portage and was the assistant principal of Portage Northern High School.
Hope presented him with a Distinguished Alumni Award in May, 1995. He received an honorary degree (L.H.D.) from Keiwa College, a sister college of Northwestern in Shibata City, Japan in March, 1998 and the honorary degree (Litt.D.) from Hope College on the occasion of his inauguration on October 22, 1999. In October, 2001, Bultman was presented a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Western Michigan
University Alumni Association.
Martie Bultman is also a 1963 Hope graduate. The Bultmans have two grown children: a son, Matthew, in Overland Park, Kan., and a daughter, Heather, in Broadhead, Wis.; and five grandchildren.