Dean Richard Frost at commencement

Quote Unquote: Final Lessons

Quote, unquote is an eclectic sampling of things said at and about Hope College.

Dean Richard Frost at commencement

As the members of the Class of 2023 concluded their journey as undergraduates on Sunday, May 7, they received encouragement and advice from two recently retired or soon-to-retire mentors whose combined service to Hope totals more than 80 years.

The day opened with the college’s 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Baccalaureate services in Dimnent Memorial Chapel, which featured an address by Dr. Stephen Hemenway, who retired at the end of the school year as the Betty Roelofs ’53 Miller Professor of English after serving at Hope since 1972. It culminated in Commencement at 3 p.m. at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium with featured speaker Dr. Richard Frost, who retired in 2022 as vice president for student development and dean of students after serving at the college since 1989.

Both connected their remarks to the meaning behind the name of the college that they and the graduates shared together.

“Graduates of the Class of 2023, may you all have hope and blessings for a fantastic future,” Hemenway said. “In the words of Romans 15:13, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Hemenway presented a personalized list of five “W” words with which he framed advice that he promised that he would also heed in a purposeful retirement.

“When I was editor of my high school newspaper, I learned the importance of the five W words: who, what, where, when, why,” he said. “My five W words for you and me are: welcome, wonder, weirdness, worldliness and worship.”

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

“[T]hese suggestions are also advice I give myself, since we are all moving from capital H Hope to lower-case hope today,” Hemenway said. “‘But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength,’ says Isaiah 40:31. ‘They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’”

Frost focused on three thematic lessons encapsulating the graduates’ time at the college: transformative relationships, the liberal arts as preparation for a lifetime of learning, and accepting that not everything is easy. None, he noted, would be achievable without hope.

“Hope is the ingredient that allows us each to push through the skeptics and cynics of our culture today, enabling us to have transformative relationships,” Frost said. “Hope is the ability to see and understand that God created all of us differently. Hope allows us to extend to others grace and understanding.

“Hope allows us to realize that a lifetime of learning invites us to become more of ourselves, building bridges daily to serve an ever-changing world,” he said. “Hope provides us with a faith that in the best of times or the darkest of times we are never alone and that God is with us.”

The approximately 590 graduates participating in the Commencement ceremony included students from throughout the United States and around the world. Also during the event, the graduating class presented the “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” (H.O.P.E.) Award to Dr. Kirk Brumels ’88, who is the John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Professor of Kinesiology. In addition to his teaching, he conducts research collaboratively with Hope students. Among other service since joining the faculty in 2001, he has also been head athletic trainer, program director for the Athletic Training Education Program and chaired the Department of Kinesiology.