Campus Scene


Becky Starkenburg, vice president for student formation and dean of students

The 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., with featured speaker Becky Starkenburg, vice president for student formation and dean of students. Classes begin on Tuesday, Aug. 29.


A total of three Hope students have received highly competitive scholarships from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, out of only 413 awarded nationwide.

The three Hope recipients are junior Austin Becksvoort of Holland, Michigan; senior Skylar DeWitt of Hudsonville, Michigan; and senior Anna Koppin of Northville, Michigan. Hope is the only college or university in Michigan to have as many as three, and the only liberal arts college in the state to have any, with Becksvoort, DeWitt and Koppin receiving a third of the nine awarded to students attending school in the state. Only 50 institutions in the country had three or more recipients.


Dr. Michael Pikaart, professor of chemistry, has been named a Fellow of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Designation as a fellow recognizes outstanding commitment to the ASBMB through participation in the society in addition to accomplishments in research, education, mentorship, diversity and inclusion, advocacy, and service to the scientific community. Of the 20 scientists selected as fellows this year, Pikaart is one of only two from a liberal arts college.

Pikaart is actively involved in the ASBMB, and in collaborative research with students. He directs the college’s ASBMB-accredited biochemistry and molecular biology program, and was instrumental in Hope achieving accreditation for the program.


The award-winning, community-wide NEA Big Read Lakeshore organized by Hope will mark its 10th year with uninterrupted grant support from the nationwide NEA Big Read and an exploration of identity, family, racism and hope.

Running from Monday, Oct. 30, through Saturday, Nov. 18, the Big Read Lakeshore will feature Homegoing, by Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi, and The Little Read Lakeshore for children will feature the picture book Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, by Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long. For middle readers, the program will feature The Door of No Return, by Kwame Alexander, and New Kid, by Jerry Craft. New this year, a Mini Read Lakeshore will feature The More We Get Together, by Celeste Cortright.

The NEA Big Read Lakeshore has received $20,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, one of 62 grants announced on Wednesday, June 14. The program has received a grant from the NEA every year since beginning in 2014, and was the only Michigan recipient this year.


Dr. Brian Rider, who is an associate professor of kinesiology and director of the exercise science program, has been named a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Selection recognizes outstanding service to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and distinguished professional achievement in research and/or service. Rider and the other new fellows were honored during the ACSM’s 2023 Annual Meeting and World Congress, during a New Fellows Reception on Friday, June 2, in Denver, Colorado.

Rider has been a member of the ACSM since 2012. His research interests include the use of activity monitors to measure and promote physical activity, athlete testing and examining ergogenic aids for enhancing athletic performance.


Dr. Ernest Cole of the Hope College English faculty was one of only 20 scholars from around the country chosen to participate in the Summer 2023 Faculty Seminar held at Yale University through the Legacies of American Slavery initiative organized by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).

The June 18-22 seminar has been a resource as Cole, who was born and raised in Sierra Leone, continues his research into the legacies of slavery and colonialism. He is exploring how history, culture and identity relate to cultural and geographic displacement, disillusionment, and the struggle for integration of Africans, primarily in the Americas, during the era of the slave trade, and of African Americans in the United States.

Neuroscience Award

Dr. Leah Chase, professor of biology and chemistry, has received the Career and Lifetime Achievement Award from the international Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience professional organization.

The award is the highest honor presented by FUN, and recognizes outstanding efforts on behalf of undergraduate neuroscience education and research. Chase led the development of the college’s interdisciplinary neuroscience program, which became a minor in 2004 and major in 2019, and directed the program for 13 years.


The Hope College Board of Trustees has elected two new members in addition to reelecting several members.

The new trustees, elected to three-year terms, are: Debbi Lockhart ’82 Jarvis of Potomac, Maryland, and Brett VanderKamp ’94 of Holland, Michigan.

Trustees reelected to serve second four-year terms are: Victoria Brunn ’84 of Seattle, Washington; Thomas Gordon ’08 of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Tim Long ’87 of Ada, Michigan; Jim McFarlin ’74 of Champaign, Illinois; Leslie Schoon-Monday ’93 of Kirkland, Washington; and Carol Girod ’81 VanAndel of Ada. Trustees reelected to serve second three-year terms are: Rev. Eddy Aleman of Caledonia, Michigan; Rev. Michael Pitsenberger of Rock Valley, Iowa; and Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton ’76 of Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Matthew Wixson ’08 of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was elected to a second two-year term as vice chair. Dr. Stephen Boerigter of Los Alamos, New Mexico, is continuing to serve as chair, and Sandra Gaddy of Grand Rapids is continuing to serve as secretary. In addition to Boerigter, Gaddy and Wixson, the board’s six-member Executive Committee includes Victoria Brunn ’84, chair of the Protecting the Mission Committee; Thomas Gordon ’08 of Grand Rapids, Michigan, chair of the Sustaining the Mission Committee; and Andrew Ohm ’00 of Seattle, chair of the Living the Mission Committee.

The Trustees who have concluded their service are: Brian Gibbs ’84 of Bad Homburg, Germany; Douglas Conant of Chicago, Illinois; and Margaret Miller ’86 Willit of Grandville, Michigan.


The book How Do We Know Ourselves? Curiosities and Marvels of the Human Mind by Hope social psychologist Dr. David Myers has been selected for the Next Big Idea Club, a global subscription community that features recently published, thought-provoking non-fiction books — curated by best-selling authors Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Daniel Pink. The selections are chosen, the club notes, “as the most exciting nonfiction titles of the season.” How Do We Know Ourselves? offers answers to questions ranging from why we misinterpret song lyrics to why it can be so difficult to change someone else’s — or one’s own — opinion.