Hope College is on the eve of its 162nd academic year, with the members of the incoming Class of 2027 arriving on Friday, Aug. 25, for the start of New Student Orientation that evening.

The rest of the students will begin to return on Sunday, Aug. 27. The Opening Convocation marking the formal start of the school year will be on Sunday, Aug. 27, at 2 p.m., in the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse, with featured speaker Becky Starkenburg, vice president for student formation and dean of students.  Classes begin on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

The public is invited to the Opening Convocation. Admission is free.

Watch the convocation live 

Although the enrollment numbers don’t become official until mid-September, the college is anticipating a large incoming class and large number of transfer students, which in combination with last year’s record-setting class will lead to continued strong enrollment.  Hope received a record number of applications the past two years in a row (5,206 for fall 2023, and 5,151 for fall 2022) and is anticipating an overall enrollment of 3,276, slightly above last year’s total of 3,251.  The incoming class will be about 820 students, and there will be approximately 60 transfer students.  The college deliberately enrolled a smaller class this year, down from the 955 of a year ago, to help stabilize enrollment.

Starkenburg joined the Hope staff in August 2022 after previously serving as vice president for student life at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois.  As vice president for student formation and dean of students, she leads the college’s co-curricular program serving Hope’s approximately 3,200 students.  Co-curricular programs and services at the college include Athletics, Campus Ministries, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Health Center, Housing, Residential Life and Education, Student Conduct and Student Life.

Under Starkenburg's leadership, the student formation team is connecting students to Hope's mission to cultivate "lives of leadership and service in a global society."  In the context of the college's commitment to the "Hope Forward" initiative, she is leading the student formation team in creating conditions for all students to foster generosity, accessibility and community.

Across her career, Starkenburg has had a range of leadership experiences in student development, including in residence life, student leadership, counseling, vocation and career, community engagement, athletics, and diversity, equity and inclusion.  She had been with Trinity Christian College since 2008, initially as director of the First-Year Experience, and since 2013 as vice president and Title IX coordinator.  Prior to coming to Trinity Christian College, she was an area coordinator with the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for six years, from 2002 through 2008.

She has written and led grant projects, including a grant from the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I) to improve community development in a large university apartment complex; and various grants associated with the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) while at Trinity, with a focus on fostering joy in students' discovery of calling. She has served on the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Commission for Senior Student Affairs Officers, including as chair from 2019 to 2020.

Starkenburg completed her master’s degree in student affairs administration at Michigan State University in 2002.  She earned her undergraduate degree at Northwestern College, which like Hope is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, graduating with an English major.

The Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave., between Ninth and 11th streets.