Campus Scene


The Hope College Board of Trustees appointed two new members during its May meeting.

Dr. Virginia Beard
Dr. Virginia Beard
Rev. Grace Olson ’10 Claus
Rev. Grace Olson ’10 Claus

Newly elected to serve four-year terms on the board are Dr. Virginia Beard of Holland, Michigan, and the Rev. Grace Olson ’10 Claus of Lake Forest Park, Washington.

Trustees concluding service on the board are: Daniel Gordon of Ada, Michigan; Dr. Brent Krueger of Holland; Douglas C. Ruch ’81 of Holland; Beth A. Snyder ’94 of Holland; and the Rev. Dr. Jill Ver Steeg of Johnston, Iowa.

Karl Droppers ’82 of Holland, who was re-elected to a second four-year term on the board, is continuing to serve as chair; Timothy VandeBunte ’83 of Holland is continuing to serve as vice-chair; and Nancy Dirkse ’81 DeWitt of Cincinnati, Ohio, is continuing to serve as secretary.


Thousands of people across the region will read and discuss a single novel for a fifth consecutive year through an award to Hope for the NEA Big Read Lakeshore.

NEA Big Read is a national initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The NEA awarded Hope $15,000 for the local events.

This year’s area program, running across the last week of October and the first three weeks of November, will feature the book Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, as well as a Little Read for younger readers with The Giver by Lois Lowry and Blackout by John Rocco. Activities will include a keynote address by St. John Mandel, a themed dinner and multiple book-discussion groups.

Across the local program’s four years, more than 25,000 have participated, including 1,445 area elementary, middle school and high school students.


“We have been members for nine years and I can’t think of a better organization to stimulate one’s life, reprioritize it, meet interesting people who care about our community and desire to keep learning, and who contribute in so many ways.”

HASP Lecture

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals is a peer-led institute that provides lifelong learning and service opportunities for retirees. Writing for HASP’s blog, former HASP president Terri Holden shared how she and her husband, Bill, came to know Holland and Hope, and then HASP, and the program’s impact on their lives. A retired nurse formerly with Loyola University Medical Center, Terri also volunteers with the college’s Department of Nursing, mentoring sophomores in the nursing skills laboratory and lecturing on health care finance to the seniors.

The HASP blog is one of three dozen on the college’s vibrant blog network, which shares accounts written by students, faculty and staff (Editor’s Note: and sometimes guest authors as above!) highlighting scholarship, off-campus study, individual academic and co-curricular programs, alumni activities and achievements — and more.



Please visit Hope online to enjoy extensive photo galleries organized by topic and chronicling a variety of events in the life of the college. The gallery chronicling this year’s Commencement ceremony, held at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium on Sunday, May 6, includes not only a potpourri of images but also a video of the entire event.


Dr. Fred Johnson
Dr. Fred Johnson

The college’s 157th academic year will begin formally with the traditional Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m. in the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse. The public is invited. Admission is free. The featured speaker will be Dr. Fred Johnson III, associate professor of history.

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.


Brandon Derstine
Brandon Derstine

Senior Brandon Derstine has received a highly selective DAAD Undergraduate Scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service to study and conduct research in Freiburg, Germany.

Only approximately 30 of the scholarships are awarded annually to students from across the United States and Canada for up to 10 months of study in Germany during their third or fourth year in college. The value of the award is approximately $6,000, and includes a travel allowance.

Derstine, who is majoring in both chemistry and German, is conducting chemistry research at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and will be attending IES Abroad’s Freiburg – Language and Area Studies program. He has been working full time in the laboratory of Professor Dr. Ingo Krossing this summer, and will continue to work in the laboratory part time during the fall semester while attending the IES Abroad courses, which are taught in German.


Shonn Colbrunn ’94
Shonn Colbrunn ’94

Hope has named the first executive director of its new Boerigter Center for Calling and Career. Shonn Colbrunn ’94, who began work at the center in June, brings more than 23 years of experience in administrative leadership to the college-wide initiative that seeks to inspire students to engage in lifelong practices of career development by emphasizing discernment, preparation and pursuit.

Colbrunn has worked in visionary capacities for a wide variety of businesses — from start-ups to global leaders — in industries such as health care, automotive and technology. He was most recently a senior director of human resources for Spectrum Health.

The college has developed the Boerigter Center, which will launch this fall and be housed in the former Collegiate Lounge on the main floor of the DeWitt Center, through campus-wide conversations led by Dr. Karen Nordell Pearson, the center’s interim director, over the previous 18 months. Its programming will enable all Hope students, beginning in their first semester, to understand their strengths, engage in experiences that directly connect to career preparation, discern vocational and life goals, and ascertain clear next steps toward their future.

The Boerigter Center for Calling and Career was made possible by a major gift from SoundOff Signal in 2016 in honor of founder and chairman George Boerigter ’61 and his wife, Sibilla. Based in Hudsonville, Michigan, SoundOff Signal provides high-tech safety lighting solutions across the globe.


Josh Gibson
Josh Gibson
Mitchel Achien’g
Mitchel Achien’g

An action-packed spring saw Hope College junior Josh Gibson being named the NCAA Division III Men’s Golfer of the Year and receive a trophy (as pictured above left) from golfing legend and award namesake Jack Nicklaus. Gibson also helped men’s golf match its highest finish at the NCAA Championships at sixth place. Softball set a school record with a 34-win season that included advancing to the NCAA Division III Super Regional. Men’s lacrosse, women’s tennis, and women’s outdoor track & field (long-jumper Mitchel Achien’g is shown) each claimed MIAA Championships during the spring, giving Hope eight titles for the school year. In the MIAA Commissioner’s Cup race, Hope finished runner-up and just two points behind Calvin. Seniors Landon Brower (baseball) and Hayley Reitsma (softball) were named College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-Americans.


Hope is among seven colleges and universities partnering with the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute to create “Pathways to Careers in Healthcare” for area students of color.

The initiative is funded by a $400,000 planning grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek. Hope, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University will each participate in the study to develop college-specific plans of action to engage students of color and reduce barriers to pursuing study in health care professions.

“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant funds a collaborative approach with our local colleges to study how we can reduce barriers limiting students of color from gaining employment in health care,” said Shannon Wilson, GRAAHI’s executive director. “We applaud the engagement of our seven area colleges and universities. No other community in the country is undertaking such a partnership with colleges and universities to create new pathways to careers in health care for students of color.”

Presidential Search

Full Steam Ahead

Three months into the presidential search, and all’s well.

“There is strong interest in the position,” said Suzanne Shier, who is a member of the Board of Trustees and chairing the 14-member search committee. “We are pleased with the quality of candidates who have indicated their interest in our search thus far and are confident we will be successful when the process is complete.”

The nationwide search was launched on May 10. Applications for full consideration are being taken through September 1, and members of the Hope community are encouraged to continue to recommend those they believe will match well with Hope.

As reported in the spring issue, Hope is working with AGB Search to develop the best possible pool, with the effort also including focused advertising and targeted outreach. A key resource for both the search and the candidates is the position profile developed with extensive input from Hope alumni, current parents, trustees, emeriti trustees, students, employees and retirees (the presidential-search website includes a summary of the results of an online survey that was part of the process).

In addition to offering an overview of Hope, the profile outlines institutional priorities for the next president, including providing leadership for Hope as a Christian college of the liberal arts, focusing on academic excellence, shaping an engaged and inclusive Hope, advancing the strategic plan, maintaining financial strength and building the endowment, and addressing demographic changes.

The college’s next president, the profile continues, “will be a committed Christian driven by a steadfast dedication to the college’s mission, values and traditions. The individual called to this role will be one who finds joy in the pursuit of learning and the charge of guiding the entire Hope community to realize its full potential. An accomplished professional with a proven record of achievement and service, the president will be fully prepared to engage and lead Hope College in addressing the opportunities and challenges facing the college. This leadership position requires a deep understanding of the liberal arts, along with a capacity to effectively articulate the strengths of a faith-based liberal arts education.”

The pool of candidates will be narrowed to a smaller group in September, with in-person interviews following across the fall. Depending on the results, the Board of Trustees could elect the new president in early December.

For more information, including how to nominate candidates, please visit the presidential-search website.