To the Hope College Community,

It’s with sadness that I write to inform you that our former president, colleague and friend, Dr. Gordon Van Wylen, passed away early this morning at age 100. 

Dr. Van Wylen was a remarkable human being — a vibrant and passionate leader who devoted his life to God, the pursuit of knowledge, and public service. He had a profound, positive impact on countless lives.

He served as Hope’s president from 1972 until 1987, and his extraordinary leadership and vision has left an enduring mark on this college. 

As president, Dr. Van Wylen penned the mission statement that still guides us. He was also a champion of the physical development of our campus — notably architecting the closure of 12th Street that made the Pine Grove what it is today. In short, he helped us center our purpose AND created the center of our campus. That’s a remarkable legacy, and we will miss him greatly.

Please join me in passing along heartfelt condolences and prayers to his son and daughter-in-law, Dave and Pat Van Wylen, and the rest of their family. Dave will shortly end his time as Dean of Natural and Applied Sciences and move into the Office of Possibilities and Applied Innovation; Pat is Hope’s Global Travel Program Coordinator.

On a personal note, I am grateful for the opportunities I had to visit with him and pray together over the last couple years. Soon after I was named president, Dave took me to see him at Freedom Village, and President Van Wylen gave me this advice — “being a Christ follower means being a servant leader.” That’s exactly what made Gordon Van Wylen a great man and a perfect role model for me.

Dr. Gordon Van Wylen had a human spirit that radiated the Christian gospel. He fought the good fight and finished the race well; he was indeed a good and faithful servant. Today he joins Margaret, his wife of 66 years, in heaven.

To honor and celebrate his legacy, we will have a moment of silence on campus with a ringing of the chapel bells today, November 5, at 5 p.m.

You can read more about his life and legacy here.

Spera in Deo,

Matthew A. Scogin
Hope College

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