Hope College President Dr. James E. Bultman will receive a “West Michigan Dutch-American Leadership Award” during the West Michigan Dutch-American Heritage Day celebration on Thursday, Nov. 15.

Bultman, who is retiring at the end of the school year after serving as Hope’s president for 14 years, will receive the honor during the Dutch Heritage Celebration Dinner being held at The Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville.  The award is also being presented to Dr. Gaylen J. Byker, who recently retired as president of Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

Bultman became the 11th president of Hope College 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 committed 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 included serving for many years as co-advisor of the college’s Alcor chapter of Mortar Board.

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 14 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 3,343 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 in 2005, 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, in addition to the already completed outdoor VandePoel-Heeringa Stadium Courts at the Etheridge Tennis Complex, Van Andel Soccer Stadium, Boeve Baseball Stadium and Wolters Softball Stadium.

In addition to the campaign initiatives, Hope is currently constructing a new housing complex, the Tom and Ryan Cook Village.

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, Bultman serves on Presidents Council of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the Board of Control of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Presidents Council of the Michigan Colleges Foundation (MCF).

He is a member of the Michigan West Coast 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 Hope College Board of Trustees at their October 2011 meeting announced the naming of the future student center in honor of the Bultmans, and the Bultmans received the Hope for Humanity Award from the college’s Alumni H-Club at the 2011 Homecoming.

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

Dutch-American Heritage Day began in 1991 through a proclamation by President George H.W. Bush. The date marks the first recognition of the flag of the United States by a foreign power, when the Dutch governor of the island of St. Eustatius in the West Indies ordered his fort’s cannons fired in a friendly salute of the American warship “Andrew Doria” on Nov. 16, 1776, only four months after the U.S. had declared its independence from Great Britain. Dutch connections to the Americas began more than a century and a half earlier, in 1609, when Captain Henry Hudson of the Dutch East India Company sailed up the present-day Hudson River seeking a shorter route to Asia, with Dutch settlement of the region following just a few years later. Today, some eight million Americans are of Dutch descent, including a sizeable percentage of West Michigan residents whose ancestors immigrated to the area during and since the mid-19th century.

More information about the Dutch Heritage Celebration Dinner is available online at wmdutch-americanheritage.com