Rev. Dr. Dennis N. Voskuil, who has extensive leadership and teaching experience at both Hope College and neighboring Western Theological Seminary, has been appointed interim president of Hope College. The college’s Board of Trustees approved the presidential appointment for up to two years, starting July 1, 2017.
Voskuil was a member of Hope’s religion faculty from 1977 to 1994, and has been director of the college’s A.C. Van Raalte Institute since 2015. He was president of Western Theological Seminary from 1994 to 2008, and continued to teach as the Marvin and Jerene DeWitt Professor of Church History until 2014, when he became a senior research fellow with the Van Raalte Institute.
“Dennis’s love for Hope College is boundless,” said Karl Droppers, chair of Hope’s Board of Trustees. “A servant-leader at heart, Dennis has a history of leading with candor, collaboration and compassion. He is especially enthusiastic about Hope’s commitment to academic excellence, global engagement and ecumenical invitation into the Christian faith. Dennis will be a thoughtful and attentive steward of Hope College.”
“I am deeply honored and humbled to be appointed as the interim president of Hope College,” Voskuil said. “My affection for this community and my devotion to Hope’s unique mission have remained undaunted since I stepped onto the campus as an assistant professor in 1977. My wife, Betty, and I will strive to encourage and support the students, faculty, staff, trustees and members of the Hope community at large. By God’s grace, I will seek to embody the five virtues stated in the strategic plan: humility to listen, hospitality to welcome, patience to understand, courage to challenge, and honesty to speak the truth in love.”
Voskuil will serve while Hope conducts a national search for a successor to Dr. John C. Knapp. Knapp, who has been Hope’s president since 2013, is leaving the college at the end of July to become president of Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. Knapp expressed support for the appointment, saying, “Dennis has been a great friend to Hope College and the Holland community. With his guidance, the college will continue to thrive and build momentum in every area. In the coming weeks, we will work together to create a seamless leadership transition.”
During his time on Hope’s faculty, Voskuil chaired the Department of Religion for several years; served two terms as a faculty representative to the college’s Board of Trustees; was on the president’s advisory committee; and chaired the Athletic Committee and was a representative to the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). He held the college’s Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink Professorship from 1992 to 1994.
The graduating class presented him with the Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award in 1981, and he delivered the college’s Baccalaureate sermon in 1980, Commencement address in 1985 and Opening Convocation address in 1993. He and his wife, Betty, jointly delivered the Baccalaureate sermon in 2008, when Hope also presented each of them with honorary degrees in recognition of the couple’s long-time and distinguished service to the Reformed Church in America (RCA), which is the parent denomination of both Hope and Western Theological Seminary.
While he was president of Western Theological Seminary, the seminary adopted a new mission-based curriculum, launched a distance-learning Master of Divinity degree, restructured a continued-education program called Journey and initiated a Certificate in Urban Pastoral Ministries program. The seminary built the DeWitt Theological Center, additional student townhouses and Friendship House, and also renovated existing facilities. Enrollment tripled from 59 to 177 Master of Divinity students, and the endowment more than tripled, from $11 million to $43 million.
Voskuil’s publications have included essays for several books on religion in America and articles in the “Reformed Review,” “Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought” and the “Church Herald.” His essay “The Vexed Question: Hope College and Theological Education in the West” is in the 2007 book “A Goodly Heritage: Essays in Honor of the Reverend Dr. Elton J. Bruins at Eighty,” edited by Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis and published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. as part of the Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America. He is also the author of the 1983 book “Mountains into Gold Mines: Robert Schuller and the Gospel of Success.”
Prior to joining the Hope faculty, Voskuil had served churches in Watertown, Massachusetts, and Kalamazoo, and while at Hope he was interim senior pastor of Third Reformed Church in Holland for two years. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1966, his B.D. at Western Theological Seminary in 1969 and his doctorate at Harvard University in 1974.
The Voskuils have three children, daughter Elizabeth and sons Karsten and Derek, and nine grandchildren. Derek and Karsten are both Hope alumni, graduates of the classes of 1993 and 1996 respectively.