Campus Scene


Comment Magazine Cover

Comment magazine has selected Hope as the first institution to pilot a new community subscription program called Comment for Groups, providing additional resources for students, faculty and staff as they consider how the historic Christian faith can help meet the world’s deepest needs.

Comment is a quarterly magazine of public theology that serves Christian leaders and culture makers with rooted, fresh ideas for the faithful practice of public life. Featuring essays and reviews, the magazine is the flagship publication of Cardus, a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.

Through the partnership, beginning this fall, all Hope students receive unlimited digital access to Comment at, and all faculty and staff are offered complimentary print copies of each issue of Comment and unlimited digital access. As a Comment for Groups institution, Hope also receives an exclusive monthly newsletter with suggested articles and questions designed to stimulate meaningful discussions and encourage the development of a moral imagination.


The even-year sophomore Class of 2026 won both of this fall’s traditional freshman-sophomore contests.

The sophomores won this year’s Pull tug-of-war, held on Saturday, Sept. 30, along the south side of 11th Street across from the DeVos Fieldhouse, with a gain of 44 feet, 4 inches. It was Hope’s 126th year with the Pull, first held in 1898.

The class won the 89th Nykerk Cup competition on Saturday, Oct. 14. The contest was held in the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse during One Big Weekend: Homecoming + Family Weekend. Nykerk began in 1936.

Galleries of photographs from both events are available online.

Photo Galleries



Hope has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award for the second year in a row from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

As a 2023 recipient of the annual HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding and holistic commitment to diversity and inclusion — Hope is featured, along with the other 107 recipients, in the magazine’s November/December 2023 issue.

“When we were notified about being HEED Award winners this year we were told that the selection committee was glad to see Hope apply again and was excited to read our application.” said Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, who is vice president for culture and inclusive excellence at Hope. “It is such a blessing to be recognized with this award for the second consecutive year — a testament to the ongoing investment and efforts of the members of the Hope College community.”


In contrast to what many colleges and universities across the nation are experiencing, Hope continues to see strong enrollment.

This fall, the college’s headcount increased for the fourth consecutive year, to 3,369 from the 3,251 of the fall of 2022. The total could have been higher, but Hope deliberately enrolled fewer first-time students, 834 instead of last year’s 955, to keep the college’s size in the best range for providing both individual attention and robust programming (the general guideline being 3,000 to 3,300-ish). Hope’s highest enrollment was 3,433 students in the fall of 2014.


Blind in Early Modern Japan: Disability, Medicine, and Identity by Dr. Wei Yu Wayne Tan

The book Blind in Early Modern Japan: Disability, Medicine, and Identity by Dr. Wei Yu Wayne Tan, associate professor of history, has received multiple awards from professional associations.

The book covers the Edo Period (1600-1868) and examines how blind people in Japan were able to thrive, gaining power and respect in society, through prominence in a range of professions. It has won the American Historical Association’s Patricia Buckley Ebrey Prize for a book on Pre-1800 East Asian history; and the Outstanding Book Award from the Disability History Association; and Honorable Mention for the Presidents Book Award from the Social Science History Association.

Tan wrote Blind in Early Modern Japan to provide a new way of understanding not only disability but also history and culture. The book focuses especially on a guild of blind traveling musicians that also led a network of other guilds, in fields such as massage and acupuncture, that consisted of blind people.


Dr. Jacob E. and Leona ’93 Nyenhuis
Dr. Jacob E. and Leona ’93 Nyenhuis

The Van Raalte Institute and Hope have honored Dr. Jacob E. and Leona ’93 Nyenhuis for their many decades of scholarship and service with the addition of their names to the Theil Research Center, home of the Van Raalte Institute since 2004.

Jacob E. Nyenhuis is a past director of the college’s A.C. Van Raalte Institute, which he had previously been instrumental in creating while serving as provost. Leona Nyenhuis graduated with an art history major after attending Hope as a non-traditional student while her husband served at the college. The announcement — a surprise to the couple — was made during a ceremony at the center on Thursday, Sept. 14.

The new formal name of the building is the “Henri and Eleonore Theil and Jacob E. and Leona M. Nyenhuis Research Center,” or the “Theil-Nyenhuis Research Center.” The building was named for Eleonore Goldschmidt Theil and her late husband, the eminent economist Dr. Henri Theil, in 2004 in honor of an estate gift to the college.


Hope has appointed five faculty members to endowed professorships:

Dr. Kenneth Brown, the John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Endowed Professor of Chemistry
Dr. Kenneth Brown, the John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Endowed Professor of Chemistry
Dr. Susanna Childress, the DuMez Endowed Professor of English
Dr. Susanna Childress, the DuMez Endowed Professor of English
Dr. Jared Ortiz, the Lavern ’39 and Betty DePree ’41 Van Kley Endowed Professor of Religion
Dr. Jared Ortiz, the Lavern ’39 and Betty DePree ’41 Van Kley Endowed Professor of Religion
Dr. Jeanne Petit, the Betty Roelofs ’53 Miller Endowed Professor of History
Dr. Jeanne Petit, the Betty Roelofs ’53 Miller Endowed Professor of History
Dr. Stephen Smith, the Robert W. Haack Professor of Economics
Dr. Stephen Smith, the Robert W. Haack Professor of Economics

In addition to recognizing faculty members for excellence, endowed professorships provide funding for summer research projects as well as some salary support. The college has a total of 25 endowed professorships for faculty and eight endowed administrative positions.


Graduates of the college’s Professional Tennis Management program will continue to have the advantage of national certification when they seek employment as instructors, coaches and tennis professionals.

The sport’s two professional associations, the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) and the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) have both renewed their partnerships with Hope’s program, relationships that have existed since the program began in the fall of 2017. The agreements reflect that Hope’s program, which combines academic coursework and hands-on experience, meets the new level-based standards that each of the professional organizations have implemented.


Given breastfeeding’s health benefits for both mothers and infants, researchers at Hope are seeking to increase the practice in Michigan.

The team is focusing especially on low-income women, for whom the researchers note the participation rate is far below the overall statewide average — which they would also like to see higher. Working with area lactation providers, they’ll be providing lactation coaches and measuring the impact on the mothers’ experience and how they feel about it. The 24-month study has been funded through a $50,000 grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation.

The work is being led by Dr. Anita Esquerra-Zwiers, assistant professor of nursing, and Dr. Alyssa Cheadle, associate professor of psychology. Both of the faculty leads specialize in topics related to pregnancy.


With church affiliation on the decline in the United States, Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren of the psychology faculty is leading a new effort to understand the spirituality of those who have left.

An associate professor of psychology and director of the college’s Frost Center for Social Science Research, he is the principal investigator of “Spiritual Yearning as a Psychological Construct: Associations with Spiritual Struggles and Existential Growth,” a three-year project that has received a $509,623 grant from the John Templeton Foundation. He is pursuing the new project with social scientists from Duke University and Case Western University as co-investigators.


Dr. Sara Hoeve, who is director of student teaching and teacher certification at Hope, has been elected vice president of the Michigan Council of Teachers of English (MCTE). Her term as vice president began on July 1, and is the start of a four-year cycle that will continue with service to the MCTE as president-elect, president and past-president.

She spent more than 10 years as a secondary English teacher before earning her Ph.D. Prior to coming to Hope in 2020, she was a visiting assistant professor of English education on the Lafayette campus of Purdue University.


Dr. Kendra Thomas, an associate professor of psychology who is a specialist in educational psychology, has received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to take a deep look at hope as a virtue by studying how it manifests in a disadvantaged South African community whose residents are centrally involved in the effort to make things better.

She is conducting the research in partnership with the South African-based nonprofit iThemba Projects, which works with the people of Sweetwaters (Mpumuza) to enhance young children’s development and education by providing guidance and resources for their caregivers. Running through December 2024, the two-year award totals $210,902.70 (3.6 million South African rand) and is funding additional mentors through iThemba Projects along with Thomas’s study of the impact on participants’ outlook.


Dr. Erika Calvo-Ochoa of the biology and neuroscience faculty has received two multi-year external grants in support of her ongoing investigation of how the nervous system heals itself.

Together totaling more than $500,000, the awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Kenneth H. Campbell Foundation for Neurological Research are helping fund research focused specifically on neural regeneration in the olfactory system, which is responsible for the sense of smell. The NSF award is also supporting development of additional programming integrating the research that will include a year-long neuroscience research-based course for Hope students and a bilingual summer camp for local Latinx K-12 students.

Calvo-Ochoa’s research uses zebrafish, but the ultimate goal is to develop knowledge that can someday help humans recover following brain trauma.