A new student center planned for the heart of the Hope College campus will be named for presidential couple Jim and Martie Bultman, who throughout their time at the college have placed students first.

Announced as part of the college's "A Greater Hope" comprehensive campaign on Friday, Oct. 14, the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center will be constructed in the central campus, adjacent to Hope's Pine Grove. The 42,000-square-foot facility will provide dynamic, attractive space to promote student interaction and a myriad of events in exciting venues, and will serve as a beacon drawing students to their campus "family room."

The center is supported by a $10 million lead gift from the Bob and Cheri VanderWeide family of Ada. Bob and Cheri VanderWeide are among the eight co-chairs of the campaign.

The VanderWeides applauded recognizing the Bultmans - who are retiring in June after serving as the college's president and first lady since 1999 - in a way that celebrates their student focus.

"Jim and Martie Bultman have devoted themselves wholeheartedly to students," they said. "They've worked tirelessly to make the best possible Hope for the students of the present and the future, and their devotion shows day-to-day through their active involvement in campus life. We hope for the new student center to make a lasting difference for generations, and naming the building for Jim and Martie is an ideal way to celebrate the lasting difference that they have made."

The center will be built on the site presently occupied by Nykerk Hall of Music, which will remain in use until construction of another of the campaign's major projects, a concert hall and music facility, provides a new home for the college's department of music. Project cost for the student center is $16 million, with an additional $4 million operating endowment and $1 million for renovation of existing space. A target date for construction of the student center has not yet been set.

The Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center will be adjacent to the DeWitt Student and Cultural Center, which opened in 1971 as a student center but gave much of its space to college offices following the April 1980 burning of the Van Raalte Hall administrative building. The new building will support a student-life program that has grown substantially since 1971 as enrollment has increased, from 2,101 students 40 years ago to more than 3,200 currently.

The college's dean of students, Dr. Richard Frost, noted that the center has been designed with an emphasis on integrating the three central components of the Hope experience--academics, faith, and student life - and to provide space for activities and interaction not currently available elsewhere.

"What we've tried to do is look at the landscape of the entire campus and not replicate what already exists, but be creative and innovative in providing what does not exist," said Frost, who is also vice president for student development at Hope. "We intend for it to be a place that reflects all things student and where they'll gather constantly."

A large, multi-purpose room with links to an adjacent patio will provide space for a variety of program possibilities. A family lounge with picture windows looking across the Pine Grove toward Dimnent Memorial Chapel and Graves Hall will provide space to socialize, watch television, or bask by one of the building's fireplaces. A theatre will host the long-running student film series, speakers or Nykerk practices. A small prayer chapel will provide a place to worship and reflect on God. Multiple student organizations will have offices and shared space for working on projects. The building will also have an exciting state-of-the-art food and coffee area.

The "student way" will connect the registrar's, counseling and student development offices in the adjacent DeWitt Center through a dynamic link to the Bultman Student Center, allowing a seamless transition between the two areas.

Since becoming the college's president in 1999, James Bultman's emphasis has been on assuring that Hope College provides students with an exceptional educational experience in a vibrant and caring Christian environment, and the college has enjoyed distinction on a variety of external measures during his tenure. Martie has additionally worked with students directly as co-advisor of the college's chapter of the "Mortar Board" honorary society, which in 2010 was recognized as the nation's top chapter, receiving the Ruth Weimer Mount Chapter Excellence Award.

The Bultmans are both enthusiastic and tireless supporters of students and their activities. They regularly attend student scholarly presentations, performances, and competition in athletic events, usually together but sometimes individually when activities are happening simultaneously - so at least one of them can be present at each. Together they serve communion during the college's Sunday-evening worship services in Dimnent Memorial Chapel, and they also break bread with students by joining them for lunch or dinner in the dining halls, or by inviting them for a meal in the President's Home.

The largest single fundraising effort in the college's history, the $175 million "A Greater Hope" comprehensive campaign will provide major boosts to the college's endowment and add several new buildings. The endowment portion of the campaign includes $30 million for student scholarships and another $20 million for faculty-student collaborative research, a signature part of the Hope experience for which the college has repeatedly received national recognition across the years. Major enhancements to the campus will include not only the student center and concert hall and music building, but an art museum, engineering addition and outdoor tennis facility, in addition to the already completed Van Andel Soccer Stadium and Boeve Baseball Stadium and Wolters Softball Stadium. In addition to the campaign initiatives, the $175 million total includes the annual support being raised across the duration of the campaign through the college's Hope Fund.

Additional information about "A Greater Hope" is available online.