For the second consecutive year, Hope College is anticipating the largest incoming class in history as the new school year approaches.

Hope doesn’t log enrollment officially until mid-September, following the formal close date for the process, but through July the college had registered more than 900 freshmen.  The incoming class is expected to top last year’s record of 848, which had surpassed the previous high of 819 set in 2007.

The total also has Hope anticipating more than 3,200 students overall for the seventh year in a row—and perhaps the most students ever.  Last year’s enrollment, 3,249, was a Hope record and the sixth year in a row that enrollment at the college was above 3,200.

The college’s 151st academic year will begin formally with the annual Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m. in the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.  The featured speaker will be Dr. Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet, who is the John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Professor of Psychology and will present “Learning in a Life that Matters.”

Residence halls for new students will open on Friday, Aug. 24, at 10 a.m., with New Student Orientation beginning later that day and continuing through Monday, Aug. 27.  Residence halls for returning students will open on Sunday, Aug. 26, at noon.  Fall semester classes will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 8 a.m.

The large incoming class and overall enrollment anticipated this fall follow a strong 2011-12 admissions recruiting year, so it’s not coming unexpectedly.  Correspondingly, across the summer months the college’s faculty and staff have been making ready, from adding some 48 course sections to keep classes characteristically Hope-sized, to purchasing additional cottages and leasing off-campus apartments to serve as student housing.

The adjustments are in addition to some 200 projects on the summer campus “to-do” list, initiatives ranging from completing major new facilities to small-scale behind-the-scenes improvements.  Highlights have included completing the VandePoel-Heeringa Stadium Courts, which are part of the Etheridge Tennis Complex at the Ekdal J. Buys Athletic Fields, and starting work on the “Tom and Ryan Cook Village,” apartment-style student housing south of the DeVos Fieldhouse scheduled to be ready for the fall of 2013.

The college has also done major work at Holland Municipal Stadium, which Hope is in the process of arranging to purchase from the City of Holland.  Improvements have included the installation of artificial turf that features the Hope “H” at midfield and the college’s name in the end zones.

In anticipation of the start of construction this fall on the new engineering wing being added to VanderWerf Hall, the general physics lab is being relocated from the main floor to the ground level.  Other improvements, spanning east to west and north to south, have ranged from replacing the windows of Scott and Wyckoff halls, to installing new exercise equipment at the Dow Center, to several dozen maintenance projects in Hope’s cottages, from new kitchen flooring, to bathroom remodeling, to re-roofing.

vanOyen-Witvliet has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1997.  Her teaching responsibilities have included Introductory Psychology, Positive Psychology, Behavior Disorders, Clinical Psychology, Internships and Advanced Research Lab.  She publishes in the field of emotion and psychophysiology research, with a specialized focus on justice, forgiveness, and gratitude.

With the support of the Fetzer Institute, the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, the John Templeton Foundation, the Towsley Research Scholar Award, the Faith and Learning Fund, and the Frost Center for Social Science Research, she has conducted programmatic research with students, published peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and given professional presentations in local, national, and international venues.  She has conducted 100 media interviews about forgiveness, with her research featured in venues such as “Time,” “Newsweek,” “Reader’s Digest,” “O: The Oprah Magazine,” “USA Today,” “The Los Angeles Times,” “The Chicago Tribune,” “ABC News Good Morning America,” and CNN.

Witvliet has mentored dozens of Hope students in psychophysiology research, 20 of whom have co-authored journal articles or professional conference presentations with her, and 12 of whom have co-authored projects winning Psi Chi Regional Research Awards.

Before joining the Hope faculty, she trained as a scientist-practitioner clinical psychologist at Purdue University and completed her predoctoral internship at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center affiliated with Duke University.

She graduated from Calvin College with a B.A. in psychology and music in 1991, and completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Purdue University in 1993 and 1997 respectively.