Hope College is anticipating the largest incoming class in its history as the new school year approaches.

The college's 150th academic year will begin formally with the annual Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 28, at 2 p.m. in the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.  The featured speaker will be Dr. Marc Baer, professor of history and chair of the department.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The incoming class is expected to top the previous high of 819 set in 2007.

Residence halls for new students will open on Friday, Aug. 26, at 10 a.m., with New Student Orientation beginning later that day and continuing through Monday, Aug. 29.  Residence halls for returning students will open on Sunday, Aug. 28, at noon.  Fall semester classes will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 8 a.m.

The summer has again provided an opportunity to pursue a variety of projects focused on the campus itself.  The work has been headlined by the renovation and creation of multiple research laboratories within VanderWerf and Van Zoeren halls, space that was already put to use this summer by faculty-student research teams in physics and engineering.  Among other major projects, historic Van Vleck Hall, completed in 1858, has received its first fire sprinkling system; the main auditorium in the MaasCenter has been completely remodeled; and the Lichty Hall residence hall has received new windows as well as new furniture and carpet for the student rooms.  Projects at other buildings range from a new roof for Phelps Hall, to the relocation of the Center for Writing and Research within the Van Wylen Library, to maintenance work at more than 60 of the college's cottages.  Other changes include the installation of two charging stations for electric vehicles.

A member of the Hope faculty since 1983, Baer has been active in the life of the college in a variety of ways in addition to his teaching and research.

He spearheaded the effort to organize the college's "Veritas Forum," a three-day event which considers Christian faith and the life of the mind from a variety of perspectives.  The event debuted in January 1997 and has been held every two years since, most recently in January of this past year.  He is also the founding director of the college's Pew Society Program, which began during the 1997-98 school year, and which mentors students considering an academic career.

Among other activities, he has co-led a Hope spring break mission trip and participated in a seminar during the college's 1999 "Winter Happening" regarding a 1998 trip to India by Hope students, faculty and staff to share the experience of Hope's contemporary worship program with colleagues at Indian Christian colleges.  He previously delivered the college's Opening Convocation address in August 1997.  In May 2001, he received Hope's Vanderbush-Weller Development Fund award for having a strong, positive impact on students.

Within his academic department, Baer specializes in modern British history.  His courses include "British and Irish History to 1700," "British and Irish History Since 1700," "Modern Imperialism," "London Histories" and the "History Seminar," as well as "Introduction to Modern European History" in the college's Cultural Heritage program and "Exploring Faith and Calling" in the Senior Seminar program.

His research focuses on the cultural, social and political history of Britain - especially London - since the late 18th century.  His first book, "Theatre and Disorder in Late Georgian London," was published in 1992 by Oxford University Press. His second book, "The Rise and Fall of Radical Westminster 1780-1890," will be published in 2012 by Macmillan. He is currently completing a book on seven major Christian figures in Britain c. 1750-1950.  As well, he has published 17 articles and given 40 papers or invited addresses.

Baer's external awards and honors include three fellowships through the Summer Seminar program of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He has also held research grants from the NEH, the American Philosophical Society and the Michigan Council for the Humanities, in addition to local organizations such as the Padnos Educational Fund and the Holland Community Foundation.  Through the years he has also been active in a variety of professional associations.

He joined the faculty as an assistant professor of history, and was promoted to associate professor in 1986 and full professor in 1992.  Prior to coming to Hope, he taught at Frostburg State University, where he was named "Teacher of the Year" in 1983, and CaseWestern ReserveUniversity.

He holds his bachelor's degree from Iowa State University, and his master's and doctorate from the University of Iowa.  He has been married to his wife Patricia for 40 years.  Together they have three children and three grandchildren.