Hope College President Dr. James E. Bultman will close the college’s 2011-12 “Last Lecture Series” with a final address before concluding his 13-year tenure leading Hope.

He will present “Defining Decisions – Learning Lessons – Pleasing Places” on Tuesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The “Last Lecture Series” is organized by the college’s Alcor chapter of the national Mortar Board honorary society to feature members of the faculty.  The title of the series, which the chapter initiated during the 2008-09 school year, has for the most part been rhetorical, with the speakers asked to highlight the advice that they would most want to share if the event was indeed the final opportunity for them to address the college’s students.

In Bultman’s case, however, the title applies literally.  He is retiring on June 30 after serving as the college’s president since 1999.

During the evening, the chapter will also be giving 100 copies of the book “The Art of Leadership” by Max De Pree to the first 100 in attendance.  A member of the college’s Class of 1948, De Pree is chairman emeritus of Herman Miller Inc. and from 1987 to 1995 chaired the Hope College Board of Trustees.

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.

He and his wife, Martie, a Hope classmate, have been active members of the campus community.  Particularly commited to students, they have regularly attended events ranging from academic colloquia, to performances, to Chapel services, to athletic contests, to activities such as Dance Marathon.  Martie’s involvement in the life of the college includes serving as co-advisor of the Alcor chapter.

Bultman’s emphasis as president has been on assuring that Hope provides students with an exceptional educational experience in a vibrant and caring Christian environment. His leadership has included leading the college in updating its mission statement and identifying the distinctive qualities of a Hope education.

Hope has enjoyed distinction on a variety of external measures during his tenure, including consistently holding more grants through the National Science Foundation’s summer “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” program than any other liberal arts college in the country, and national accreditation in all four arts programs (art, dance, music, and theatre). A Lilly-funded “Program for the Theological Exploration of Vocation” established in the fall of 2003 expanded the college’s emphasis on encouraging students to consider the role of calling in their life and career choices. In 2011, Hope was 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.

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, including a record enrollment of 3,249 during the current school year.

During his tenure, Hope has pursued the two largest single fund-raising efforts in the college’s history.  The college launched the “Legacies: A Vision of Hope” comprehensive campaign during his second year as president.  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, a restoration of historic Graves Hall 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.

Hope launched its current “A Greater Hope” comprehensive campaign in October 2011.  The $175 million effort will benefit every student as it strengthens the college’s endowment, adds several new buildings, and supports immediate needs through the annual Hope Fund.  The endowment portion of the campaign includes $30 million for student scholarships, $20 million for faculty-student collaborative research, $20 million to support outstanding faculty in their teaching and research, and $10 million for initiatives in international and multicultural education and spiritual life.  Major enhancements to the campus will include a concert hall and music building, a new student center, an art museum and an engineering addition.  The Van Andel Soccer Stadium, Boeve Baseball Stadium and Wolters Softball Stadium were constructed during his tenure, and a new outdoor tennis complex will be completed this summer.  When the campaign concludes, Hope will have raised one third of a billion dollars during the economically depressed 2000s, built or renovated most campus buildings, more than doubled its land acreage and increased its endowment by 50 percent.

Bultman joined the Hope 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, Dr. Bultman serves as past chair and member of the Executive Committee of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA); immediate past chair of the Division III Presidents Council of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); a member of the Division I, II, and III Executive Committee of the NCAA; chair of the Board of Control of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA); and a member of the Presidents Council of the Michigan Colleges Foundation (MCF). 

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.

The Bultmans have two grown children: a son, Matthew, in Overland Park, Kan., and a daughter, Heather, in Broadhead, Wis.; and five grandchildren.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 229 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

The Alcor chapter has existed at Hope since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.  The chapter has received multiple awards at the Mortar Board National Conference during each of the past several years, including being named the top chapter during the national conference in July 2010.  During the summer 2011 conference, the chapter received a “Golden Torch Award,” 12 “Project Excellence” awards, and the second annual “First Book Award” for having been the top chapter in the national “Reading is Leading” Virtual Book Drive Challenge.

The “Last Lecture Series” concept was inspired by the “Last Lecture” delivered at Carnegie Mellon University by Dr. Randy Pausch on Sept. 18, 2007.  Pausch, a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty who had terminal pancreatic cancer--a fact known at the time that he spoke--presented “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”  He died on July 25, 2008, at 47.

The Hope Alcor chapter also sponsored a “last chance talk” during the 1960s.  The idea back then was to invite a faculty member to express his/her ideas under the hypothetical assumption that it would be the last opportunity to address the student body.  The late Dr. D. Ivan Dykstra, professor of philosophy, delivered the first “last chance talk” in the spring of 1962.

Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street.