Sentinel Op-Ed: Committed to Safe In-Person Start

This piece was published in the Holland Sentinel. View the original post HERE.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions around the country have wrestled with how best to provide students with the outstanding education that they deserve and assure the safest possible environment. We here at Hope care not only for the campus community but our cherished hometown of Holland. We’re writing to you, neighbor to neighbor, to share some of our thinking and preparation for in-person instruction, including an innovative approach to COVID-19 testing developed by our very own faculty experts, as we approach the start of classes on Aug. 17.

The college has created a comprehensive, three-component testing plan specifically tailored to the Hope community and informed by the expertise of public health officials and our own faculty and staff.

Our goal is to start the academic year with zero cases of COVID-19 on campus. Every student and employee coming to campus is being tested for COVID-19 through a pre-arrival kit sent to their home. They complete it with online supervision, send it to a laboratory and then quarantine at home for two weeks if they test positive.

Second, we will test 1 percent of the students every weekday, in a strategy developed by Dr. Ben Kopek, an associate professor of biology with expertise in virology. The sample size reflects a commitment to conducting successful surveillance while saving enough tests for clinical care of individuals.

Third, we will conduct wastewater testing to determine if the virus is present in specific residential zones on campus. This innovative project is being led by faculty members Dr. Aaron Best, Dr. Brent Krueger and Dr. Mike Pikaart, who have long led water-quality research. If the levels of the virus rise in a particular zone, we will conduct follow-up testing of residents. This will allow us to stay on top of, and mitigate the risk of, a potential outbreak.

While we have confidence in our testing plan, we realize that we’ll likely have cases on our campus this semester. We are prepared to respond, with testing available as soon as any student recognizes symptoms of COVID-19, and with quarantine space available for those who test positive.

We’re also taking many of the sorts of steps that you might expect. For example, we’re promoting physical distancing by spacing desks in all classrooms six feet apart. On campus, we’re all to wear masks, complete a daily screening form, and regularly sanitize our hands and spaces.

But as we look to the future with hope, our prayer is that we see not just the challenges but also the opportunities.

We’re undoubtedly signing up for a harder semester than if we continued the fully remote instruction that we implemented in March, but we see four compelling reasons for prioritizing in-person instruction.

First, our students want to be back! The vast majority (we believe over 90 percent) want to be on campus.

Second, an in-person education, with students living and learning together, is the best education. It’s why Hope has been committed to being a residential liberal arts college for more than 160 years. That said, remote learning isn’t a poor substitute when done the Hope way. We’ve been offering courses online since 1999 and infuse them with the same individual attention and character that we provide in person.

Third, an in-person experience is more equitable. Some students have good learning environments in their homes, while others do not.

Finally, while this may be counterintuitive, bringing students on campus is actually safer and more responsible. Since a large percentage will be living in the region regardless of the teaching modality, it’s better to have them on campus participating in our testing and monitoring.

These are trying times. But as we look to the future with hope, our prayer is that we see not just the challenges but also the opportunities. As an institution of higher education, this is an unparalleled opportunity for teaching moments! It is an opportunity for innovation, as we explore new modalities of teaching and think deeply about the future of learning. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity for growth. As we are shaken out of old ways of thinking, we can look at the world with new eyes, insisting that destruction and disappointment is not all there is. With this mindset, there is no better place to cultivate and spread hope through the world than a college for which true, biblical hope is a foundational identity.

— Matthew A. Scogin, President of Hope College, and Jennifer Fellinger, Chair of the college’s COVID-19 Steering Committee and VP of Public Affairs and Marketing.

Chapel Talk: Finding Hope in Diversity

Below is the recording, as well as the text as prepared, of President Matthew A. Scogin’s talk in Dimnent Chapel, part of his “Finding Hope” series, delivered to a Hope College student audience on January 20, 2020.

Good morning and happy Monday.  Today is not just any Monday; today is Martin Luther King Day.  And, so, our topic this morning is “finding hope in diversity”.

But before we can talk about finding hope, we must acknowledge the underlying assumption here, which is that we have a problem in the area of diversity.  If we didn’t have a problem, we wouldn’t need hope.  The very fact that hope is needed at all, presupposes that there is some sense of desperation, a sense of hopelessness.

And that is certainly the case when it comes to racial relations – in this country, in our communities, on this campus, and in our hearts.  We have a problem.

That must be stated up front, because too many people – whether they say it out loud OR just think it – come into these conversations with an eye roll.  “Why are we still talking about this?”  “It’s the year 2020, isn’t it time to move on?” 

For Christians, that attitude is completely out of bounds.

Christians have to talk about diversity.  It’s something we can never move on from.  Why?

Because God talks about diversity. All the time.  

It’s all throughout the Bible.  God never glosses over racial tensions.  In fact, racial reconciliation is one of the main story arcs of Scripture.  In Genesis 11 (tower of Babel) people are scattered by nation, language, and tribe because of sin.  In Revelation, all tribes, nations and languages are gathered together around the throne of Christ.  

Let me read you a short passage from Revelation 7: 

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

Revelation 7:9-10

I think it is interesting that at the end of history – when all things are redeemed, when God has made all things new – there will still be race.  Race is not going away.  There will still be different tribes, nations, languages. But we’ll be together in perfect unity around Jesus.  

Some people say “why can’t we all be color blind?” 

Well, God’s not color blind!  He sees diversity.  And He likes it.  

All throughout the Bible we see that God has preferences.  There are things He likes and things He doesn’t like.  

Diversity is one of the things God likes.  

That means God prefers diverse communities – mixed race communities.  He likes mixed race churches, mixed race schools, I would even go so far as to say that He likes mixed race families.

In Numbers 12, Moses (a Jewish man) marries a black woman. God not only approves of it, but he punishes the people who don’t like it.

God likes diversity.  And that means Christians must be especially enthusiastic supporters of diversity.

God also gives us the only real motivation for fighting racism.

In fact, without God, human rights can’t really exist at all.

Where did the idea that every human being has certain rights come from?  

Some people claim this is a Western idea. But if you look at the roots of Western thought, which is the ancient Greeks, you have Aristotle saying that some races are born to be slaves.  

Martin Luther King – who we celebrate today – knew that the basis for human rights could only come from one source: God himself.  

The reason human beings are worthy of rights is because we were made in the image of God.  

In one of his sermons called “The American Dream,” he says,

“The whole concept of the imago Dei … ‘the image of God,’ is the idea that all men have… a uniqueness, worth, and dignity. And we must never forget this as a nation: there are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God.”

Every human is made in the image of God.  

See, when God made you He chose to make you this way.  He had options.  He made you this way because he wanted to.  

There’s a great line in scripture, it’s in Mark 3, when Jesus is choosing his disciples and it says “Jesus called to him those he WANTED…”  

God has options. He chooses what to do, who to make, how to make them. And I want you to know that He chose you.

I heard a story from a pastor recently of a kid who was adopted. The kid was being made fun of by his friends for being adopted. And he finally came up with a good line to shut up those who were making fun of him. He said “you know what? My parents CHOSE me. Yours got stuck with you.”

And so it is with us. God chose you. He hand-crafted you to be this way. Because he wanted to. And that’s our basis – our only basis – for human rights. 

Because if we’re all just “tormented atoms in a bed of mud,” to use Voltaire’s phrase, then who is to say that one race is or is not superior to another?

BUT if we were made in the image of God himself, each of us chosen by him and belonging to him, then any kind of racial discrimination is completely out of bounds.  

So, civil rights can’t exist without the image of God.  

The Christian gospel also gives us the only antidote for fixing racism.

The Bible says racism is a terrible thing, but the secular world tries to fix it by going after the mind.  “We need more education. We have to enlighten people – and scold them – until the racism is gone.” It hasn’t worked, and it won’t work because the problem is in the heart. 

The problem is deeply embedded in all of us – in our hearts.

Nothing can fix our hearts except God.  That means nothing can truly fix racism except God.  

So we look to Jesus for help.

There’s an amazing passage in Ephesians 2 that tells us that one of the main reasons Jesus came and died was to destroy “the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” between races.

He did it by destroying the barrier between us and God.  

Because we’re all estranged from God.  And when – through the gospel – we become reconnected to our Father, it changes us.  It changes our hearts. It changes our identity.    

Because of Jesus, we are connected to the God who created us and that becomes our main identity.  

This redefined identity is what holds us together. We still have our differences – racial differences, cultural differences, professional differences, whatever.  

You’re still Chinese, or French or Hispanic. And you’ll still feel connected to others who share those ethnicities.  

BUT, you’ll have an even stronger connection to those who have had the same kind of transformation you’ve had.  You’ll feel a deep and strong connection to those who have been convicted of sin and received the grace of God.

And that’s what will ultimately bring us together.  

The question is: What are some practical things we can do right now at Hope? Again, we look to Jesus.

One thing Jesus does throughout his life is hang out with people who he culturally shouldn’t associate with. He hangs out with the “others” – sinners, prostitutes, drunkards, tax collectors. He also violates cultural taboos by hanging out with people from different ethnic backgrounds.  

In John 4, he sits down with a Samaritan woman. Jews and Samaritans were enemies. They didn’t associate with each other. But Jesus sits down with her. He talks with her, he listens to her, he treats her with respect, he gets to know her.

Sometimes it’s that simple.  

But most of us don’t do it. One study done a few years ago found that whatever race you are, approximately 90 percent of your friends will be that same race.

That’s NOT OK for Christians.  

We have to do better. Achieving Biblical diversity starts with all of us. We ALL must be willing to make ourselves uncomfortable.  

It’s more comfortable to hang out with people like you. But that’s not what God wants. And that’s not what Jesus did.  

To achieve the kind of community that God wants – that God likes – we will all have to be uncomfortable sometimes – not just those who are in the minority. Get to know someone who is different from you.  Befriend them. Ask questions. Listen to them.  Show them respect.  

Let’s make Hope a community – not one that is color blind – but one that is color brave.  

Have a conversation with someone today who is different from you. Someone you’ve never talked to.  

Don’t be afraid to admit that you are uncomfortable. And let’s be generous in granting grace with each other as we do this.  

Let’s make Hope a place that models true Biblical community. Look at the world around us. Do you think people are getting nicer? The world is getting meaner, ruder, uglier. We have to be different.

The world is getting more diverse. Yes. But at the same time, it is getting more divided.  

This year, 2020, marks the first time in U.S. history when whites are a minority among 18 year-olds and younger.  By the middle of this century, that will be true for the entire population.  

Tragically, as we get more diverse, we get more divided.  

Hope must be different.  Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers.”  At Hope, let’s be people who build bridges to those unlike us.  

I believe God wants to do this at Hope. I believe he is calling us to be a place that models the kind of diversity gathered around the throne of Christ at the end of time.  

When God needs something done on earth, what does he do? He uses people. 

God needed a leader of the Civil Rights movement and he CHOSE Martin Luther King.

And I believe that God is choosing Hope College – choosing us – to be a place where he moves and shows his power and shows his glory.  One way that will happen will be by us being a place that is perfectly unified in our diversity.  

Ultimately, that’s how we can give the world evidence that God is real.  

We have the opportunity for the world to see God’s power at work here at Hope.  

It starts with us – being people who are willing to make ourselves uncomfortable to build bridges, to be peace makers.  

Go in peace.

Share your #GratitudeAndHope!

Dear Friends,

November is here — and the Thanksgiving season is upon us. We are so thankful for the way Hope College has transformed our lives, and we are especially thankful for all you do to support Hope!

This month, we invite you to share your gratitude. Tell us about the person, program or experience at Hope College for which you are most thankful.

You can participate in one of two ways (or both):

  • Post your gratitude publicly, along with the hashtag #GratitudeAndHope, on Instagram or Twitter. Remember that if your account is set to “private,” we won’t be able to see the post, even if you use the hashtag.

Your message can be short and sweet — just be sure to describe what made that person, program or experience so special and how they made an impact.

We can’t wait to hear how you have been transformed by Hope! During the month of November, we will share some of our favorite submissions via Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you for all you do to represent Hope College throughout the world.

Spera in Deo,
Matt ’02 and Sarah ’02 Scogin
President and First Lady, Hope College

Inaguration Address of President Matthew A. Scogin

Below is the full text of President Matthew A. Scogin’s Inauguration, as prepared.


Thank you, Bob, for that very kind introduction.  As Bob said, we have known each other for more than 15 years.  I cannot imagine a better friend or mentor … so it’s hard to capture how grateful I am that he is here today.   

I have to admit … I am feeling overcome with emotion right now… 

This whole thing feels like part graduation ceremony, part wedding and part funeral!  I just hope I come across as the groom or at least the graduate and not the … well, you get the idea.   

This room is full of people I love, respect and admire … people who supported me along my journey to and from Hope – and now back again.  

My high school social studies teacher, Marshall Rutz, and my former advisor at Hope, Jack Holmes, are here.  Both invested countless hours in me – inside and outside the classroom.

Some great leaders of Hope are also here – Dr. James Bultman our 11th president and Dr. Dennis Voskuil our 13th.  I have known and admired Dr. Bultman for many years.  And while I only met Dr. Voskuil two years ago, he quickly made my personal “hall of fame”.

Dr. John Knapp, our 12th president, is traveling overseas and couldn’t join us today.  But I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for asking me to join Hope’s Board of Trustees a few years ago – giving me the opportunity to serve this school we all love.

It is also an incredible honor that, at 99 years old, our 9th president, Dr. Gordon Van Wylen is here this afternoon.  Dr. Van Wylen, your legacy lives on in very real ways here at Hope, and it will be a privilege for me to help carry forward the work that you began here nearly five decades ago.

To the search committee, chaired by Suzanne Shier, and to the board of trustees, chaired by Karl Droppers – thank you for the trust you have placed in me.  I will work to justify that trust every day.

And thanks especially to all of you in the broader Hope community.  When I was named Hope’s 14th president, I wasn’t sure how the announcement would be received.  I was 39 … working in New York … with limited academic experience. But in true Hope tradition, you embraced me and welcomed me back.  I feel deeply grateful and highly privileged to serve this institution alongside you.    

And if anyone is still concerned about a 39-year-old president, I have one important announcement: two weeks ago I turned 40! 

I also want to recognize my family, starting with my siblings Sam, Alice and Tim.  Thank you for being here. My in-laws join us from Colorado, which means so much to me.  

Of course, my three children – Oliver, Lucy and Sophie – and my amazing wife, Sarah.  Thank you for your willingness to embark on this crazy adventure together.

Finally, I want to mention my parents.  My dad passed away six years ago; my mom three years ago.  

Unbeknownst to me, my preparation for this job began decades ago with them.  They exuded a passion for learning in the pursuit of wisdom and truth – a passion I carry as I return to Hope.

My dad was a PhD chemist, who worked at a pharmaceutical company in Portage his entire career.  My mom started her career as a middle school science teacher and later taught adult education and high school equivalency.  

My dad, who never raised his voice – at least in my presence – taught me the importance of kindness and staying calm in all circumstances.  My mom taught me how to channel my ambition, always telling me … “If you see something you don’t like in this world, go out and do what you can to make it better.”  That’s a message of hope I’ve always tried to embody.    

I miss them and wish they were here.  They would have loved this. Partly because, after 17 years on the East Coast, I am finally home.


You see … for me … this is home.

Twenty-one years ago, my parents dropped me at Scott Hall for freshman year.  I remember my mom … sitting in our blue minivan … tears streaming down her face as they drove off … heartbroken that I was leaving the nest – even though the nest was only an hour’s drive away.

In this very room, I first caught a glimpse of a girl who stopped my heart and made me so nervous it took me three years to work up the courage to ask her out.  That incredible girl has been my wife for nearly 17 years.

In the halls that surround us, I met professors who stretched my mind … taught me to think … gave me a passion for learning … and most importantly cared about who I was and who I would become.

And though I had been a Christian my whole life, on this campus, God became a someone, not a something.  

I met my wife here.  I met people who changed my life here.  And I met God here.

The simple truth is, my life was transformed by Hope.  Yes, by Hope College. But even more so, by the “living hope” this institution pointed me to.

This was no accident.  The idea of sparking this transformation in young people was the original intent of the visionaries who started this institution more than 153 years ago.  

A courageous group of immigrants from the Netherlands, led by Albertus Van Raalte, settled here.  They had a zeal for God and a belief that Western Michigan – then standing on America’s frontier – was the best place to spread God’s hope to the world.  

They believed the culture and values of the frontier would shape the culture and values of this country.  So they settled here, intending to help shape America.

But their dream was even bigger than that.  

They believed this strategic spot, hard by the waters of Lake Michigan, offered a transportation network to reach the world.

All of this was inspired by their fundamental belief that advancing God’s kingdom in this life demanded more than zeal and passion – it required education.  So they started a small school with a big ambition – to transform the world through hope.  

Philip Phelps was our first president – a 39-year-old from New York who was 40 at the time of his inauguration.  Hmm … sounds familiar!

Early on, there was some tension over the school’s mission.  Some believed Hope’s purpose should be limited to training future missionaries and ministers.  Others wanted Hope to be a broader liberal arts institution like traditional eastern schools.  

Phelps had a different plan:  He wanted to do BOTH – offer world-class academics AND a vibrant faith environment.  This was a new idea at the time. Yet Phelps believed this dual mission was the key to fulfilling Hope’s founding vision to transform the world.  

A few decades after Hope was founded, work started on this chapel.  When it was finished, it held 1,500 people – at a time when Hope’s student population was less than 400!

Like I said … our founders had big ambitions!

The rose window in the back of this room – designed by President Dimnent – showcases the seals of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Michigan, Rutgers and Leiden University in the Netherlands.

These schools were seen as aspirational academic peers of Hope College.  

So, someone better warn Leiden University that we’re coming!  Because we are coming.  

This is a season of homecoming for me – and I can’t help but feel it is also a season of homecoming for Hope College.  A time to rededicate ourselves to that early vision.

Somewhere along the line, we have lost a little of the grand ambition that inspired our founders.  After all, we weren’t founded to transform Ottawa County or compete with a school in Grand Rapids. We were founded to compete at the highest levels academically and transform the world with God’s hope.


Today, I see Hope College with new hope.  

I know that recent years have not been easy.  You’ve lived it and don’t need me to tell you.  

At times our campus has felt divided – in a way that mirrors the division in our country.  

We also feel pressure from the external challenges facing higher education and liberal arts colleges in particular.  

I see all of that – and yet I also see God preparing our institution to do something new.  

I’m inspired by that passage just read from Isaiah 43:

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness
 and streams in the wasteland

This points to an interesting paradox with God.  He describes himself as a God who never changes – He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  And yet, He is also a God who does new things.  

The Bible begins in Genesis 1 with God creating the earth.  For a God who has always existed, that was a new thing.  Creation was a new thing.  Humans were a new thing.  

And then, remarkably, in Genesis 6 – just a few pages into the Bible – God says, let’s do something new again!  And he destroys the world with a flood and starts over. 

A few thousand years later, Jesus comes and brings another new thing – a new message, a new covenant.  

At the end of time, the Bible says Jesus will come back, and when he does, he will make ALL things new.

God is one who never changes … and yet also a God who does new things.

I don’t know about you, but I feel God moving here now … doing a new thing at Hope College.  

To be clear, I’m NOT the new thing.  It’s not about me.

I would even submit that it’s not about our institution.  It’s about God using us to impact the world – drawing us back to the vision that filled our founders with such fervor – the idea that the world could be transformed by Hope.

I believe if our founders could see where Hope stands today, they would be overcome with envy.  

Today, we are a school that belongs on the world stage.   

  • We are ranked by US News as 23rd in the nation for undergraduate research, tied with Cornell and Swarthmore.
  • We were the first private liberal arts college – and remain one of the few – to have accredited programs in all four areas of fine arts: music, art, dance and theater.
  • We have championship level athletics in 22 sports, and we are consistently recognized by the NCAA for having student-athletes who excel academically.
  • We have pivoted beautifully from a denominational school to a fully ecumenical Christian school.  At a time when churches and denominations around the world are dividing, Hope is a place that brings all Christians together … a place where Greek Orthodox, Catholics and all protestant traditions can come together and say, ‘We may disagree on some things but we share a handful of big convictions that unite us.’ 

I can’t think of a better position from which to transform the world.

As we look to the future, we are fortunate to inherit the hard work, vision, and determination of brave leaders who got us here.  Names like Phelps, Dimnent, Van Wylen, and Bultman.

We honor them best and remain true to their ambition by seizing the new opportunities before us.  

I see three major areas where Hope College can chart a course of leadership our founders envisioned.  The three areas are: the future of learning; the future of work; and the future business model of higher education.  

In my early weeks as president, I have spent a lot of time listening – hearing from faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, parents, community members.  These sessions will continue, but early conversations have already informed my thoughts in all three areas. 


First, how can Hope shape the future of learning?  

Let’s start with the fact that despite the sweeping changes to society brought about by the Information Age, the format and delivery of a college education has changed little since the Industrial Revolution.  

Consider the landscape:  Technology is transforming the way many people learn.  Thanks to online learning, a student in Madagascar can be taught by the world’s top scholars without leaving home.  With such powerful tools at their fingertips, today’s students see college as a springboard to lifetime learning, not the completion of their education.   

Hope will always be a residential liberal arts college.  That will never change. But perhaps there are areas where we can consider doing “a new thing”.  

Our focus on the future of learning starts with a vigorous defense of the value of the liberal arts.  There is strong research supporting us. 

In a recent study, Harvard economist David Deming found strong growth in jobs that require both social skills and STEM skills – whereas STEM-only occupations are declining as a share of our labor force.[1] 

While the pendulum of higher education seems to be shifting toward vocational training, we at Hope believe college is about more than grooming young people for work.

Of course, Hope does a great job preparing students for fulfilling careers.  But a liberal arts degree also instills a passion for learning … the chance to experience the unexpected … the opportunity to make sense of one’s place in the world.  

There isn’t a better preparation for a job – or for life.  This is where Hope – with our unique mission – can excel.  


In fact – through the work of the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career – Hope can become a bridge between the study of liberal arts and the rapidly changing workplace that is defining the future of work.

“Rapidly changing” barely does justice to current dynamics.

Over the next five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, up to one-third of our workforce will transfer not just to a new job, but to a new occupation.  A 2016 study by two Oxford economists estimates that nearly half of U.S. jobs are at risk of being automated within two decades.[2]

Automation is impacting not only factory workers, but highly educated professionals.  I’ve seen this first-hand. The New York Stock Exchange, where I worked for six years, once housed thousands of stock traders on the trading floor. Now, as a result of electronic trading, there are only a few hundred.

While some look at our “new economy” and see only the need for more technical training, I believe the skills produced by a Hope College liberal arts degree will become even MORE relevant.  

In my view, the rise of automation means the most successful leaders of the future will be those who are especially human.  As more jobs are automated, employers will more highly value people who bring curiosity, creativity, wit and warmth to the workplace … people who can work across cultures, make a human connection, and live by a strong moral compass.

Who better to meet this rising need than Hope College?


Finally, I see Hope College as uniquely positioned to impact the future business model of higher education.  

The whole world is asking why college has gotten so expensive.  What if Hope could take the lead in solving that puzzle?

Doing so requires asking some existential questions … like why does a college exist in the first place?  

Some institutions – if they are honest with themselves – would have to admit they exist solely to support professional researchers.  Their idea is simple: wouldn’t it be nice if all the thinkers in society were able to come together and just think all day, rather than having to, say, work at a bank with only a few precious hours to think in the evening.

That’s one model.  And it’s a brilliant idea. All of society benefits from it.  

But the question is, how do you pay for it?  

So, institutions invite students to spend a few years rubbing shoulders with great thinkers – for a fee.  

It’s been this way from the very beginning – since Aristotle supported himself by tutoring students on the side.  

That’s how the whole project keeps moving forward. But what happens when the tuition students – and parents – are willing and able to pay doesn’t cover expenses?  Then it’s not so simple.

Hope College has a different model.  

Hope exists for professors AND students.  Hope convenes bright minds who not only want to think and pursue truth, knowledge and beauty, but who love teaching and care about their students. 

That’s not to say we don’t love research.  We do and we’re good at it. Professors here do world-changing research – but through our collaborative model, that research includes students as the first priority, not as an after-thought.

For us, what it comes down to, is this… if our academic model is different, shouldn’t our business model also be different?  

Our academic model centers on bringing together the best scholars with the most vibrant, talented, diverse group of students we can assemble.  

And don’t forget, dating back to the founding of our institution, we’re about more than just excellent academics.  

At a fundamental level, what we provide here is a transformational experience.  A world-class, liberal arts education is part of that. It also includes faith formation, as well as enabling students to discover their calling – their life purpose – and the chance to wrestle with the biggest, most important questions of all – like Is there a God? and Why am I here? 

Those pieces together are what transformed my life.  And the ability to pay for this transformative experience should not be a barrier.  

That’s why Hope will be committing an additional $1 million toward new scholarships for the next academic year.  This marks the biggest-ever increase in our scholarship offering.


But longer term, we need to do much more to close the gap.  The most direct way to accomplish this is through fundraising.  And that’s an area where I am excited to get to work – using all the passion, commitment and energy Hope College instilled in me.

Let me warn you.. my ultimate goal for us is big.  

My objective is to raise enough scholarship money in our endowment so that one-day Hope College would not need to charge students tuition at all.  

My dream is a Hope College that can fully fund tuition for all of our students.

This is a big ambition.  So large that it probably sounds crazy and unachievable.  

Yet, to paraphrase President Kennedy when he charged our nation with the seemingly crazy and unachievable mission of going to the moon, we choose this ambition.  We choose this, not because it is easy; we choose this because it is hard.  

We accept this challenge because we believe so deeply in the transformative experience that Hope College offers.  The opportunity to be transformed by Hope should not be dependent on a family’s net worth or what zip code a student grows up in.

Being transformed by Hope should not come with a price tag.

To me this is personal…  My own life was forever transformed by this institution.  I grew up in a modest middle-class family. I wouldn’t have been able to afford Hope College without scholarship support.  And even with scholarships, I still graduated with significant student loan debt. Keep in mind, this was two decades ago, when the price of tuition was less than half what it is today.

We are taking a hard look at ways we can rethink our cost structure.  But organizations do not shrink on the way to greatness. Our path toward greatness involves growing, growing our scholarship support. 

So I am asking us to channel the pioneer spirit that inspired our immigrant founders, who believed this institution could change the world… I’m asking us to re-ignite that passion and be a place that chooses to be a leader, a place that chooses to climb the highest mountain, a place that chooses to take on one of the most significant challenges facing society today: access and affordability of higher education.

Ultimately we accept this challenge, not just because we believe in what Hope College can do.  We accept this challenge because we have faith in a big God.  

If Hope is a God-centered school, we ought to have God-sized ambitions for ourselves.  And we do.


The areas I have highlighted today – the future of learning, the future of work, the future business model of higher education – may sound daunting.  But while other institutions perceive them as a threat, we can see them as opportunities.  

Challenges from the outside are inherently disruptive. That’s why they are scary to those who are already at the top, but exciting to those who are poised to climb higher. 

When Israel’s leading generals saw Goliath, they saw their worst nightmare. But when David saw Goliath, he saw his biggest chance. The same thing that struck the Israelite army with fear is what filled David with hope. 

And so it should be with us. Remember, our name is HOPE.  Who better to take on seemingly hopeless challenges than us? Especially when, as with David, our hope comes from the only reliable source.

The world places its hope in circumstance … things like personal health, family, success, high position in society.  

Those are nice things.  But as you know, and as our students will discover, life is full of hardship.  What is hardship but a stripping of those things? And when you lose the circumstances in which you place your hope, you risk becoming cynical, disillusioned, hopeless.  

The Apostle Peter says that we have, in Christ, a “living hope”… a hope that doesn’t die … a hope that doesn’t depend on circumstances.

That’s why David could look directly into the eyes of the most daunting challenge his nation faced and say “today, the Lord will deliver you into my hands.”

How did he summon the will to say that – or the faith to believe it?  

Faced with an insurmountable task, David had supernatural hope.  Realizing the battle was not his but God’s, he said “this very day…  the whole world will see that there is an extraordinary God.”

THAT is the power of hope – a living hope that comes from only one place.  

It is the hope we aspire to instill at Hope College.  

It is the hope that inspired our founding.    

It is the hope that defines our purpose.  

And it is the hope that carries us forward today.  

So, with God’s words guiding us – “see I am doing a new thing” – we look to the future with confidence in Hope’s mission … its people … and its ability to transform the world.  

Thank you.


1 Deming, David, “The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 2017

2 Frey, Carl and Michael Osborne, “The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization?” Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, Sept 2016

Inauguration Day details for Faculty and Staff – Friday, September 13

Thank you so much for being a part of the Presidential Inauguration celebration. We know that some aspects of inauguration day can disrupt routines (parking lot closures, anyone?!), which is why we are especially grateful for your patience and your collaborative, celebratory spirit. This is a special day in the history of the college, and, as one faculty member recently said to us, “What a great day it will be!” 

Here are a few final reminders for faculty before Friday’s ceremony and celebration:

  • Parking: We will have hundreds of guests on campus Friday, and we hope to make their parking experience positive. (To better manage parking challenges and traffic flow, we will be offering guests valet parking.) Please extend Hope hospitality to our guests by:
    • Parking in a faculty lot or on the street on the east side of campus — far from Dimnent Memorial Chapel — to enable our guests, especially those with disabilities, to park closer. 
    • Avoiding the Western Theological Seminary parking lot south of the chapel. This lot will be reserved for accessible parking.
    • Avoiding: Lots #10 (south of Schaap Science Center) and #12 (off 10th Street, next to the VanRaalte Institute / across from the Haworth Engineering Center); Lot #20 (Admissions); Lot #22 (off 9th Street, behind the Anderson-Werkman Building); and Lot #42 (south of Kruizenga Art Museum, off Columbia Avenue). These lots will be reserved for guests’ vehicles.
  • Classes: Classes will be dismissed at 2 p.m. on Friday so that all students and faculty may attend the ceremony. If your office is closed, you’re welcome to add this sign to your door. 
  • Employees invited: All Hope employees are invited to attend the ceremony! An office may close if all of the staff members in the office plan to attend the inauguration and post-ceremony celebration. Attached please find a sign you can print out and hang on your door, if desired.
  • Installation Ceremony: The ceremony begins at 2:30 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.
    • For faculty and staff not in the processional: All faculty and staff are invited to attend the ceremony, even if they are not participating in the processional. The ceremony is open to the public, and no tickets are needed. There will be a reserved section in Dimnent Memorial Chapel for employees; please plan to arrive early, as the unused space in this section will be released 15 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. For those faculty who are not able to be present at Dimnent Memorial Chapel, the inauguration ceremony will be streamed online at and will be broadcast live in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. There also will be a live broadcast for students in the Bultman Student Center Great Room.
    • For faculty in the processional
      • 2:00 p.m.: Faculty (in regalia) gather on 12th Street, between Dimnent Memorial Chapel and Western Theological Seminary. In case of inclement weather, line-up will take place in Dimnent B11.
      • 2:20 p.m: Prepare to process.
      • 2:30 p.m.: Processional begins promptly at 2:30 p.m. Faculty will follow the international flag-bearers and will be seated in reserved pews at the front of the chapel. 
      • Recessional: Faculty recess following the ceremony. Faculty marshals will dismiss faculty, starting with the front rows on both sides of the aisle, once the platform party has recessed. 
  • Post-Ceremony Reception: Following the installation ceremony, there will be a public reception with President Scogin and his family. All are invited to join the celebration, taking place at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Social media: If you are a social media user, feel free to celebrate online by posting inauguration-related messages, using the hashtag #transformedbyhope.
  • Events through Saturday: There are many other events this week, including a Celebration of the Arts on Thursday night and Community Day all-day Saturday, featuring a picnic, football and soccer games, and fireworks.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at

As always, thank you for everything you do for Hope College — and thank you for your cooperation. What a great day it will be!

Spera in Deo —

Mary Remenschneider, Office of the President
Jennifer Fellinger, Public Affairs and Marketing
Co-chairs, Presidential Inauguration Committee

Be a part of the Presidential Inauguration celebration!

We hope you have marked your calendar for the Presidential Inauguration, which will take place Friday, September 13, 2:30 pm., in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. A lot of planning goes into an inauguration celebration, and we are grateful to those of you who have been involved in the preparations over the last few months — thank you!

In advance of the inauguration, please: 

  • Register for the faculty processional: Full-time faculty are invited to participate in the processional in full academic regalia. If you plan to participate in the processional, you must register online by Friday, September 6. 
  • Remember that classes after 2 p.m. are cancelled: Classes will be dismissed at 2 p.m. on September 13 so that all students and faculty may attend the ceremony.
  • Plan to attend (or watch!): While classes are cancelled on the afternoon of inauguration, the college will not close. However, Hope employees are invited to attend the ceremony, and an office may close if all of the staff members in the office plan to attend the inauguration and post-ceremony celebration. 
    • The ceremony is open to the public, and no tickets are needed. There will be a reserved section in Dimnent Memorial Chapel for employees not participating in the processional; please plan to arrive early, as the unused space in this section will be released 15 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony.
    • For those employees who are not able to be present at Dimnent Memorial Chapel, the inauguration ceremony will be streamed online at and will be broadcast live in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts Auditorium. There also will be a live broadcast for students in the Bultman Student Center Great Room.
  • Celebrate with us!: Following the ceremony, we are hosting a Celebration with President Scogin and his family. This event is open to the public and everyone is invited to be part of the fun. The event will take place at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center.

There are many other events taking place during Inauguration Week, including: a concert by Young Oceans on Sept. 11; a Celebration of the Arts on Sept. 12, featuring all four of Hope’s arts departments; and Community Day on Sept. 14, complete with a picnic, football and soccer games, and… fireworks! Please check out the schedule and be a part of this very special weeklong celebration honoring Hope’s 14th president, Matthew A. Scogin!

Thank you for all you have done to welcome President Scogin and his family to Hope College. We look forward to seeing at the inauguration events!

Invitation: Inauguration of President Matthew A. Scogin

You are invited to attend the inauguration of
Matthew A. Scogin
Fourteenth President of Hope College

Friday, September 13, 2019

Installation Ceremony, 2:30 pm
Dimnent Memorial Chapel

Celebration, 4:00 pm
Haworth Inn and Conference Center

No tickets are required. For the ceremony, a reserved seating area for staff will be available until 2:15 pm, after which any remaining seats will be open to all guests.

The ceremony will be streamed online at Other viewing opportunities will be available at other campus locations.

For additional information and a full schedule of all inauguration events, please visit

Christian Aspirations Guide Board Action

On Friday, May 3, 2019, after the Board of Trustees wrapped up its two-day spring meeting, President Dennis N. Voskuil sent an email to Hope College employees providing an update on the board meeting. In his email, President Voskuil included the following:

You may recall that, one year ago, at its May 2018 meeting, the Board of Trustees affirmed a statement of Hope’s Christian Aspirations, which articulated the college’s aim to be faithful, to be welcoming and to be transformational. In August, at the State of the College Address, I invited the campus community to join me in celebrating Hope’s Christian identity and exploring our three aspirations. I encouraged the Hope community not to flinch from the challenge of living into the new statement. And, over the past year, the Board of Trustees has indeed embraced this challenge. At this week’s meeting, the board had candid, thoughtful discussions about how the college can update policies and practices to better support its work to be faithful, welcoming and transformational. Specifically, the board focused on two aspirations:

  • Hope aspires to be faithful. The board voted to remove ambiguity in our faculty hiring policy, so that the language of the policy aligns with current practice. The board’s hiring directive* has been “to strive diligently” to hire Christian faculty, when, in fact, the practice has been not just striving to do so but actually doing so. We explicitly match the two with this board action, which states that the college will hire full-time faculty who are “dedicated to excellence in teaching and scholarship, and who have a mature understanding of and commitment to the Christian faith.” In the spirit of vibrant ecumenism, we will define “Christian” broadly and diversely, recognizing that “the variety of expressions of the Christian faith we hold in common contributes to the vitality of Hope College.” Indeed, Hope will be a place where we “work together with one mind and purpose” (Phil 2:2), even as we have a myriad of perspectives.
  • Hope aspires to be welcoming. The board voted to replace the Position Statement on Human Sexuality with the statement of Hope’s Christian Aspirations. With this board action, Hope’s guiding statement on faith will be one that articulates the promise, richness and complexity of our Christian identity, rather than a statement that articulates a position on a single issue. As a college community that seeks to be robustly ecumenical, we acknowledge that faithful and professing Christians across the globe — and on our campus — hold differing views on human sexuality and the definition of marriage. With that in mind, we believe we can both cherish our historic affiliation with the RCA and honor the diversity of perspectives within the global Church. Our institutional focus will be on our shared faith in Jesus Christ, and we will affirm Hope’s commitment to be welcoming to every person. In doing so, we will endeavor in earnest to be “a community where all come together to offer their gifts of understanding to one another.”

* The hiring directive dates back to January 1984, when the Board of Trustees “directed the President, administration, and faculty to strive diligently, whenever persons are recruited to the faculty for tenure-track positions, to identify and recruit persons of outstanding ability and character who are dedicated to excellence in teaching and scholarship, and who have a mature understanding of and commitment to the Christian faith.”

Hope College Announces 14th President

Dear Members of the Hope Community,

Earlier today, the Board of Trustees completed its special meeting to vote on the 14th president of Hope College. I am delighted to announce that Hope’s next president will be Mr. Matthew A. Scogin ’02, effective July 1, 2019.

As a strategic thinker who has worked on the most important economic and social issues facing our nation, Matt will bring intellectual depth and visionary leadership to Hope College. Matt personifies the mission of Hope, as he has led a life of leadership and service at the highest levels of business and government. He is also a passionate follower of Christ, brings a strong commitment to inclusive excellence and diversity, and articulates the college’s mission with contagious and inspiring enthusiasm. This makes him the perfect leader for Hope’s next chapter.

Matt is driven by a love for Hope that certainly resonates with our alumni, families and supporters. Last month, during the on-campus interview process, Matt described Hope as the place that transformed his life. He recalled Hope faculty who invested in him and mentored him so that he might flourish in his career and in his faith. And, he reflected on the long-lasting impact of his Hope education. As an alumnus who lives and breathes Hope College, Matt understands the unique strengths that distinguish our campus community.

This announcement marks an important milestone for the college, and we would not have arrived here without the hard work and ongoing support of many people. First, I want to thank you — alumni, parents, families and friends — for your prayers and encouragement throughout the entire presidential search. I am grateful, too, for the members of the Presidential Search Committee, who dedicated an entire year to this search, spending countless hours reviewing candidate applications, checking references, conducting interviews and making difficult decisions. Special thanks go to Mrs. Suzanne Shier, who chaired the committee.

In the months leading up to July, President Dennis Voskuil and I will be working closely with Matt to prepare for a smooth and successful leadership transition.

Please continue keeping all of Hope’s leaders, especially our current president and our new president-elect, in your prayers. And, together, let us look toward the future of Hope College with deep faith, great optimism and heartfelt appreciation for those who, over the years, have contributed to our strong foundation.

Spera in Deo,

Karl Droppers
Chair, Board of Trustees
Hope College

November Presidential Search Update

I am delighted to provide you with an update on the search for the 14th President of Hope College.

On Friday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 3, the Presidential Search Committee interviewed eight semi-finalists. Again, we were impressed by the exceptional caliber of the candidates. Hope College is indeed blessed to attract the interest of so many wonderful leaders.

After much discussion and discernment, the Committee selected three finalists to bring to campus. These three finalists will visit Hope College on Thursday, November 15 and Friday, November 16. There will be opportunities for students, faculty, staff, administration and trustees to interact with the candidates. We will share more details on the time and location for each session in the next few days.

Next week, I will send you an email that includes the names of the finalists, their biographies and their curriculum vitae (CV), as well as links to feedback forms for each candidate.

At this time we are mindful of the power of mission, prayer and community.

  • We are grounded in our mission — to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and Co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberals arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith.
  • We are guided by prayer — O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you. Psalm 84:12.
  • We live in community — united in our care and support for one another.

Please join us as a community dedicated to our mission and vigilant in prayer as we welcome the finalists to campus!

Spera in Deo,
Suzanne Shier
Chair, Presidential Search Committee

The mission of Hope College is to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith.