From the President: Matthew A. Scogin ʼ02

Dear Friends and Family of Hope College,

Earlier this summer, a new Gallup poll reported that confidence in higher education has sunk to a historic low. Only about a third of Americans express confidence in the nation’s colleges and universities. Public confidence decreased by more than 20 percentage points in the past eight years alone and, notably, the poll found confidence dropped across all demographic groups – regardless of age, gender, education level or political affiliation. It doesn’t matter who you are; nearly everyone has lost hope in higher education.

The question is: Why? What’s going on here? The Gallup report cited two key reasons: the skyrocketing cost of tuition and the increasingly partisan nature of educational institutions.

News from Hope College has a tradition of featuring the college’s presidents four years into their service, mirroring students’ time at the college. As we reflected on some of the key themes of the last four years, it is clear that two of the major things God has called us to work on are precisely what’s needed to restore hope in higher education.

Hope Forward is our vision to solve the broken business model of higher education, removing the barrier of tuition costs and kickstarting a cycle of generosity that perpetuates access into the Hope community. It has been two years since the public launch of this ambition and we are thrilled by its reception. The best part has been getting to know the students in the Hope Forward cohorts who are already passionately and eloquently giving life to the Hope Forward vision. And we’ve only just begun!

When it comes to the increasingly partisan nature of higher education, we at Hope are dedicated to pursuing a middle way. In a divided world that attempts to force everyone and every organization to pick a “side,” we strive to be a place that can only be labeled as decidedly following Jesus, not “right” or “left.” We want to teach students how to think, not what to think. We want students to feel safe expressing their convictions and be curious enough to listen to convictions different from their own. We can do all of this confidently because of our Christian mission, which gives us a common understanding of human dignity.

This may not make us popular, but we pray it makes us faithful. Faithful to Jesus, who himself defied political categorization. We also pray that it makes us a place that can restore hope in higher education, as it frees us to put big questions on the table and seek truth, welcoming of differences and unhindered by a particular agenda.

As we look to the years ahead, I’m thrilled to continue building the Hope Forward model and seeking the middle way. As befits our name, Hope College is restoring hope to the world. And I’m honored to continue serving the college in partnership with all of you.

Spera in Deo!
Matthew A. Scogin ʼ02