Strategic Planning Update

Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

I am writing on behalf of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee to update you as we complete the data-analysis phase of our work and begin setting priorities that will shape our 10-year goals. I am pleased to report that much work has been completed and the process remains on schedule. Here is a summary of our recent progress:

Between March 1 and June 30, ten Study Groups comprising faculty, staff and students analyzed a wealth of information on the college’s major challenges and opportunities. This work involved:

  • approximately 130 staff, faculty and students serving in formal capacities;
  • over 60 Study Group and Steering Committee meetings;
  • more than 200 internal and external data sources utilized by Study Groups;
  • ten external experts supporting several study areas;
  • over 330 hours invested by the Hope Evaluation, Assessment and Research Center (formerly Carl Frost Social Science Research Center) in developing, implementing, analyzing and reporting the strategic planning survey; and
  • at least 60 colleges and universities researched for comparisons, best practices, and innovative programs.

Each Study Group produced a final report that included an analysis of Hope’s current state, the environmental factors that will influence Hope in the future, and priority issues and opportunities that will require the Steering Committee’s attention when developing the strategic plan. This research was informed by hundreds of questions proposed by faculty, staff and trustees, as well as analyses of campus data and information, best-practice reviews, expert testimony, and many of hours of discussion and critical thought about how we will grow in national and international stature as both a premier liberal arts college and a leader in Christ-centered higher education. I know I speak for every member of the Steering Committee when I say the insights of the Study Groups have proven to be invaluable.

To augment the information from Study Groups, the Steering Committee commissioned a multi-constituent survey to gauge the opinions and priorities of faculty, staff, students, alumni and parents. Conducted by the Hope Evaluation, Assessment and Research (HEAR) Center, it collected input from approximately 5,000 respondents, yielding a rich source of data to inform the strategic planning process. Highlights of these findings will be shared in campus meetings after fall semester begins.

Just last week the Steering Committee met with Study Group representatives to review survey findings and the ten reports. An external facilitator led a two-day session where the Steering Committee identified a limited number of themes that we will continue to evaluate over the next two months. These themes are broad, cross-divisional and relevant to the college’s most critical issues and opportunities. We will continue to seek input from the campus community as this work proceeds.

As we prepare to welcome our newest Hope students in just a few short weeks, we are reminded of the purpose of this strategic planning work. Co-Chair Nancy DeWitt and I appreciate all the ways our campus community has contributed to this process thus far and look forward to continuing to engage you in the months ahead. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to contact me or Mary Remenschneider <>, who is managing the planning process.

With gratitude for your service,

John Knapp

Staff Presentations

Thank you to the over 100 staff who were able to attend one of the three strategic planning information sessions over the last two days.  We appreciate the opportunity to share the process with you and to get your feedback.

We know that some who are interested in the strategic planning process were not able to attend one of the meetings, so we are making the presentation available to you online.  Please take a look and contact us with your questions or feedback.

Staff Info Meetings.February 2014

Kicking off the Strategic Planning Process

I am pleased to announce the beginning of a comprehensive strategic planning process that will produce goals and objectives to guide the college over the next decade.  The plan we develop will be adaptable to account for new challenges and opportunities that present themselves in the future and will be the measure by which we make strategic institutional decisions in the next ten years.

We will develop the plan by studying ten major areas of strategic importance to our future, from academic distinctiveness to talent recruitment and retention.  A study group will be formed around each area to gather information and recommend priorities to be included in the strategic plan.  Each study group will provide an opportunity for members of the college community to share input and ideas.

The planning process will be guided by a Strategic Planning Steering Committee comprised of faculty, staff, students and trustees.  These individuals will oversee the strategic planning process, they will serve as liaisons to various constituent groups to ensure communication and feedback is available throughout the process, and they will develop the strategic plan using the input and information generated through the study groups.

Although the Steering Committee holds this special charge, you will also have opportunities to share your input and aspirations during the strategic planning process.  Your experience at Hope and your expertise in higher education is important to have as part of our ongoing dialogue and decision making. I encourage each of you to participate in at least one opportunity so that a variety of perspectives and insights are considered.


John C. Knapp
Hope College President
Strategic Planning Steering Committee Co-Chair

Nancy Dirkse DeWitt
Hope College Board of Trustees
Strategic Planning Steering Committee Co-Chair