Capacity Building to Support Capability Development – Serving as an ACE Fellow at Hope College

The American Council on Education’s highly selective Fellows program provides a unique opportunity for college or university faculty or staff to spend a year working with another institution. The model enriches both: The Fellow gains insights from the host school, and the host benefits from the visitor’s expertise.

Dr. Vicki L. Baker, who is the E. Maynard Aris Endowed Professor in Economics and Management at Albion College and nationally recognized for being at the forefront of innovation and strategy in faculty and leadership development, was one of only 36 Fellows selected to participate during 2023–24. She opted to serve at Hope, where she’d previously led a series of six professional-development workshops for the faculty.

In the column which follows, she reflects on her time at the college.

Dr. Vicki L. Baker

As my time serving as an ACE Fellow at Hope College comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the experiences I had, but more importantly the relationships built. The ACE Fellowship program provides unprecedented leadership development opportunities in which Fellows work closely with the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, and alongside other senior leaders at their host campus. Hope College welcomed me with open arms, allowing me the opportunity to engage with the President and Cabinet members; I attended faculty meetings, committee sessions, department meetings, and student presentations. I participated in strategic planning sessions and was able to provide critical insights as the “educated, yet uninformed” outsider with particular expertise in faculty and leadership development. My background, experiences, and expertise in faculty and leadership would prove valuable as I engaged in my project work throughout the spring 2024 semester.

The Office of the Provost, and the amazing team that supports academic affairs, was where I spent the majority of my time advancing a critical need on behalf of the college, and on behalf of those newly serving and soon to serve in critical campus leadership roles — department chairs and program directors. As a department chair myself at Albion College, I know and have experienced the real challenge around serving in this role and making the shift from an individual contributor (via teaching, scholarship, and service) to an institutional contributor where I am expected to manage, lead, and support the career advancement of my departmental colleagues. Such a shift requires new ways of thinking about leadership development in the academy and how, with intentional investment, these roles can advance individual, departmental/unit, and institutional aims.

My approach was simple: Engage in capacity building to support capability development — which aligns with Hope’s values. I was deeply appreciative of the willingness of diverse units across campus — including Finance, Human Resources, the Office of Sponsored Research, the Registrar, Admissions, and the Office of Possibilities, to name a few — to advance this effort alongside me. My time at Hope College, and the pursuit of this project focus, were serendipitously aligned with the next strategic planning process, which is at the initial stage. The knowledge gleaned via engagement with so many at Hope College provides invaluable insights as campus members prepare to launch their next strategic visioning and planning efforts. I am hopeful that the efforts of so many will enable the next generation of department chairs and program directors at Hope College (and beyond) to be better equipped to take on such roles, setting a standard for how to more intentionally support the bright, talented individuals we are so fortunate to work with in the academy.

As I transition to the next phase of my collaboration with Hope College, three words come to mind about what the ACE Fellowship experience has meant to me:

Gratitude. I am beyond grateful to President Matt Scogin, Provost Gerald Griffin, and Associate Provost Heidi Kraus (and the entire team in the Office of the Provost) for the invitation to join the Hope College community. You provided me with such personally and professionally meaningful experiences and friendships; your approach to work and life, and thus how you supported my work-life needs, is a model I will carry with me moving forward.

Hope. I feel hopeful about the future and the ways in which we can better envision leadership pathways across the academy. Through our collaboration, we advanced a model for how to more intentionally advance innovative approaches to cultivating talent that fosters engagement of all stakeholders. It takes a village, and the village at Hope College willingly joined in that effort.

Possibility. I am proud of what we accomplished and am excited about the possibilities to enhance and expand on that work at Hope College and beyond. My engagement as an ACE Fellow allowed me to have dedicated time to explore interests, ask questions, and think deeply and critically about what value add I bring to the table and the areas in which I need to develop further. Hope College also provided me with the opportunity to support others as they navigate their personal and professional paths — a role, and opportunity, that I cherish.

Thank you, Hope College, for being so gracious — here’s to a bright future ahead!

Authorship Enshrined

All 75 Editions of Textbooks by Hope Professor David Myers Chosen for National Museum of Psychology

Professors have always collected books in their offices, often a lot of books, but in March Dr. David Myers of the psychology faculty went the other direction and emptied his shelves by 75 volumes in response to a unique honor. The National Museum of Psychology, based at the University of Akron in Ohio, had requested that he provide its archives with a copy of each of the editions of the introductory and social psychology textbooks that he has authored across the past 41 years.

And well the museum might. Three of those textbooks — Exploring Psychology, Psychology and Social Psychology (the latter in its 14th edition) — have been in recent years the most frequently adopted psychology texts across colleges and universities. As reported by the Columbia University-related “Open Syllabus Explorer” through its analysis of 272,000 online course syllabi, the books made, respectively, 2,499, 2,188 and 1,728 appearances. In addition, editions of the introductory and social psychology texts developed for high school classes have been studied by most of the 350,000 students taking AP Psychology each year. The books are also used beyond the U.S. — they’ve been published in 22 languages.

Each is its own book, with its own title, its own cover, its own year of production and its own ISBN. But, as does any good scientist, Myers avoids hyperbole, and takes care to qualify the quantity.

“The 75 is a bit of an artificially high count because some of these books are variations, so it’s not like it’s 75 completely independent books,” he explained. “They’re written at different levels, and they each have new information added. But, for example, the modular editions are a different format from the main edition, or we have a brief edition and a super-brief edition.”

He also emphasizes that the credit isn’t all his. Although one name appears on most of the covers, he notes: “I have been fortunate to work on a creative team that loves its mission and loves one another.” It’s an essential cast that includes co-authors, editors and project managers in Holland and at his publishers, the experts in digital media that have helped extend the books’ reach beyond print, supportive faculty colleagues and more.

His textbook-publishing journey began unexpectedly, during the summer of 1978 at a castle near Munich, Germany, where Myers, who had recently completed his 11th year on the Hope faculty, was participating in a week-long research retreat with seven other American social scientists and 16 European colleagues.

“There I was providentially assigned to sit adjacent to University of Massachusetts professor Ivan Steiner,” Myers recalled. “Six months later, in January of 1979, McGraw-Hill’s psychology editor, Nelson Black, called Steiner asking if he might help author a new social psychology text. Steiner demurred, but in the spur of the moment he gave them the name of the little-known social psychologist he had met at the retreat.”

“Black’s ensuing out-of-the-blue phone call to me began months of conversation, which led to my agreeing — with considerable self-doubt — to risk taking on the project,” Myers said. “I reasoned that even if the book flopped, I would at least become a more informed teacher.”

Clearly, the book didn’t flop, but Myers was prescient in anticipating that he’d enrich his own understanding of social psychology. That latter dynamic has even led to several additional books that present aspects of psychological science for a general audience — like The Pursuit of Happiness: Who Is Happy — and Why (1993), A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss (2000), Psychology through the Eyes of Faith (2002, with Malcolm Jeeves), Intuition: Its Powers and Perils (2004) and How Do We Know Ourselves? Curiosities and Marvels of the Human Mind. (2022)

“Many of those books have developed when I’ve reflected on material that I’m writing about in a textbook and thought, ‘Wow, that’s so interesting. More people should know about that.’”

His books have also provided Myers the opportunity to share psychology through numerous articles in the scholarly and popular press as well as through interviews in print and on radio, television and podcasts. He also makes material freely available on his website,

The publications have additionally provided a unique way of presenting Hope (the college) to the world. Beyond denoting Myers’ institutional affiliation in the author credit, the textbooks often include examples and even photographs from Hope. For a time, the college’s name even adorned the largest conference room in the headquarters of Macmillan Learning in New York City. (The publisher has since relocated, but its practice in its previous site was to name rooms in honor of its bestselling authors.)

As he reflects on his authorial experience, Myers considers C.S. Lewis’ description of “two sorts of jobs” in The World’s Last Night — the first so enjoyable that people would do the work even if no one paid for it; the other a chore that no one would do unless paid. People don’t always get to have a choice, and Myers is grateful that for him the lines have fallen in pleasant places.

“How blessed I am to have the first sort of job — to be tasked with discerning and communicating wisdom gleaned from the most fascinating subject on Earth, and hopefully, also, with expanding minds, deepening understanding, increasing compassion, arousing curiosity, cultivating critical thinking, and, as a gratifying by-product, with being philanthropic,” he said. “How blessed, and fortunate: If I relived my life a thousand times — sans that providential castle seating assignment and name-dropping, I surely would never have become a textbook author.”


The National Museum of Psychology is housed at the University of Akron’s Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, which also houses the Archives of the History of American Psychology. The Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology cares for, provides access to and interprets the historical record of psychology and related human sciences. The museum features permanent and rotating exhibits on the history of psychology as a profession, a science and an agent of social change. The Archives of the History of American Psychology is the world’s largest repository of manuscripts, books, media and artifacts relevant to the history of psychology and related human sciences.

People of Hope: Kirk Brumels

Hope College isn’t just a place; it’s a community.  A regular feature within “Stories of Hope,” People of Hope explores what that means by highlighting some of the students, faculty and staff who help make the campus family what it is.

Dr. Kirk Brumels

Professor of Kinesiology

As a student, Kirk Brumels valued his time at Hope. The engaged professors, staff, and administrators made his time more than just an opportunity to receive an education because they cared. “I loved that then and I love that now,” Brumels reflects as a professor of kinesiology.

From a family of educators, Brumels initially studied physical education and biology with plans to follow in his family’s teaching footsteps. But when he met Hope’s athletic trainer, a new path presented itself. “I met Dr. Richard Ray and we talked about careers. Based on my interests, he recommended becoming an athletic trainer and I took coursework that allowed me to sit for the national certification exam for athletic training,” Brumels said. “I loved the work and was fortunate to receive an internship to work with the New England Patriots for a season following graduation.”

Brumels would go on to serve as the assistant athletic trainer for the New England Patriots for 11 years. Having gotten married and with two children, Brumels then decided to find a new rhythm, and with teaching having returned as a calling he found that at Hope College in sports medicine. As time went on, Brumels obtained his doctorate and served as both program director for the athletic training education program and department chair of kinesiology.

“At its core, the mission of the liberal arts education is to help us better understand our world, our fellow human beings, and ourselves,” Brumels said. “Having that type of education centered around the teachings of Jesus Christ and the historic Christian faith creates a unique opportunity for students and faculty in today’s landscape of higher education. I believe it is something that we should be very proud of.”

The unique opportunities for students also extend to collaborative research in kinesiology, which, Brumels said, “is another example of high-impact learning practices and experiences offered at Hope that allow Hope College students to have a greater understanding of how the world works. Hope sets itself apart from other undergraduate programs in this way.”

“At its core, the mission of the liberal arts education is to help us better understand our world, our fellow human beings, and ourselves. Having that type of education centered around the teachings of Jesus Christ and the historic Christian faith creates a unique opportunity for students and faculty to teach and learn in today’s landscape of higher education.”

Students connect to Brumels’ teaching and perspective. The Class of 2023 awarded Brumels the H.O.P.E. award, which he was very honored to receive. The H.O.P.E. award, first given in 1965, is presented by the graduating class to the professor who they feel epitomizes the best qualities of the Hope College educator.  Brumels received the recognition during the college’s Commencement ceremony this past spring.

As he pursues each year of teaching, Brumels has clear hopes for his students: “Each year is filled with aha moments for students, where their desire to learn comes alive and propels them forward in the pursuit of God’s plans for their lives.” His vision is a credit to the spiritual and moral formation that Brumels first experienced as a student and continues to both experience and give to current students. The advice he leaves students with is smart and simple: “Engage your educational process. Get involved in what is happening… Don’t let college and all that it entails happen to you, but instead seek new information, challenge yourself, learn how to problem solve and think critically about life’s big questions.”

Visiting the Hope-Western Prison Education Program

Walking across a prison yard for the first time isn’t exactly the most comfortable experience. At least, it wasn’t for me. Until I visited the Hope-Western Prison Education Program a few months ago, the closest I’d been to the inside of a prison was watching Shawshank Redemption

There’s the security checkpoints, and the panic button gets clipped to your belt, and then the door opens and you step into the prison yard. You’re not alone, though: there are armed guards and prisoners in jumpsuits strolling along the paths. And, I was with a handful of other people from the Hope-Western Prison Education Program.

We walked across the yard, saying hello to a few of the men along the way to the building that housed our classrooms, which, aside from the students’ wardrobe (state-issued blues) and age (average: upper-40s), looked remarkably like any other classroom I’ve been in. 

As we waited for class to begin, though, I noticed one distinct difference between this and my own college experience: I don’t know that I’ve ever been welcomed anywhere (much less to class) with the friendliness and hospitality that these students extended to me. Handshakes and hellos, laughter and smiles, introductions and  “Welcome!” and “I’m glad you’re here!” and “It’s great to meet you.” Within just a few minutes, my anxiety had disappeared and I was entirely at ease.

I was visiting during HWPEP’s Homeroom, a co-curricular formation program designed to help students process their learning, develop community, and put their education in touch with their faith. The program was broken into three hour-long sections. 

In the first, we broke into small groups for facilitated discussions about the novel Homegoing, which was an optional activity organized as part of The Big Read. With the first question — “We’re familiar with the idea of ‘homecoming.’ Why do you think the author chose ‘homegoing’ for the title? — the discussion kicked off, and it didn’t let up for 60 minutes. The students talked about what it means for a place to be a home, discussed whether they considered the Muskegon Correctional Facility to be their home (many will never know another home again), and shared memories of their homes of origin.

In the second hour, we shared a guided meditation on a passage of scripture and paired off to talk through various prompts. As with the first hour, I was impressed with the students’ honesty, vulnerability, intelligence, humor, and engagement.

The third hour was set aside for me to talk to a couple of men who were in their third year of the program. When one asked me if I’d ever read Les Miserables, I laughed and told him no. “That’s a cinder block of a book,” I said. It’s his favorite novel; he told me why he fell in love with it, and then mentioned that he had the opportunity to read it in the original French while learning the language in prison. At some point during our conversation, he quoted Shakespeare at length — not just a line or two, but a whole passage — and, for not the first time during my visit, I could only shake my head and laugh and wonder, “Who are these students?”

By the time I left, every bit of discomfort and hesitation had dissolved in the face of the hospitality these men offered. And something else had happened, too: In just a few short hours, I had changed. I’d stopped thinking of these men as “prisoners” or even as “students” but as men — and, thanks be to God, as men more like me than not. 

HWPEP co-director Richard Ray wasn’t surprised by the change: “It’s a reasonable conclusion — unexamined but reasonable — that people think we’re just doing this for the incarcerated students at the prison, but there are tons of other people that are advantaged by this,” Ray said. “Main campus students and professors are among those.”

Although I’m neither a professor nor a student, I can agree: The short time I spent with the men in the Hope-Western Prison Education Program won’t soon leave me.

If you’re interested in connecting with HWPEP, here are a few ways to get involved:

Program Highlights

Here are just a few highlights from the past few months:

Academic Success

The program’s 42 students, split across three different cohorts, have completed a combined total of 1,633 credit hours. The composite GPA is 3.62 (with 13 students earning perfect 4.0s in the fall semester), and the program’s retention rate is 93%. Impressively, more than 73% of HWPEP students earned a spot on the Fall 2023 Dean’s List. 

Guest Speakers

Among other guest speakers, HWPEP, in collaboration with the NEA Big Read Lakeshore program, brought in Linda Lowery, the youngest marcher in the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. She visited the Muskegon Correctional Facility in November to speak with the students there.

New Advisors

In January, three new appointments were made to the Circle of Advisors, which “meets regularly with the program’s leadership and serves as a consultative group to help devise and review strategies to help the HWPEP accomplish its goals and purposes.” The new advisors are:

  • Leanne Van Dyk
  • Sean Sword
  • Jim Boerigter

Learn more about these advisors at the HWPEP blog.

Media Coverage

Search for Co-Director

With Ray retiring at the end of the school year, the search is under way for a new, full-time co-director of the Hope-Western Prison Education Program. Learn more about the position and apply online.

People of Hope: Annika Weeber

Hope College isn’t just a place; it’s a community.  A regular feature within “Stories of Hope,” People of Hope explores what that means by highlighting some of the students, faculty and staff who help make the campus family what it is.

Annika Weeber

Annika Weeber ’24

Senior, Rockford, Michigan

When Annika Weeber was looking at colleges, Hope caught her attention. “Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do going into college, I loved the idea of a liberal arts education that would allow me to explore my interests and encourage a well-roundedness,” she said.  

As a senior at Hope College, Weeber certainly is well-rounded. She is double majoring in both business and Spanish with a minor in kinesiology as well as an emphasis in professional tennis management.

A creative and curious person, Weeber enjoys combining her varying interests. “Studying business opens up a wide range of career opportunities in various industries, allowing me to explore different roles and find the one that best suits my interests and strengths,” Weeber said. “It’s a versatile foundation that can open doors to different career paths.

Through her Spanish major, she builds on that foundation while enjoying both learning about and connecting with other cultures. “I’ve learned to approach challenges from multiple perspectives, which is a valuable asset in business strategy and decision-making.”

Studying Spanish has been a journey of personal growth for Weeber, who had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Seville. She honed valuable skills like self-reliance, adaptability and effective cross-cultural communication. “I purposefully placed myself in an unfamiliar and challenging situation. I entered the program without knowing a single person, ventured to a place where I had limited language proficiency, and distanced myself from family, friends and my Hope College community for four months,” Weeber said. “While these circumstances were tough, they marked the best decision I have ever made because it was through that discomfort that I experienced profound personal growth.”

“Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do going into college, I loved the idea of a liberal arts education that would allow me to explore my interests and encourage a well-roundedness.”

On campus, Weeber is a member of the intercollegiate tennis team. Being a student athlete combines a commitment to both athletic and academic excellence. “Having a team who stands by you through every challenge has had a profoundly positive impact on my life,” Weeber said. “The culture of Hope’s athletics places a strong emphasis on pursuing excellence in everything we do. I’m motivated to strive to be the best athlete, student and person I can possibly be.”

During her last year at Hope, Weeber has appreciated continued academic growth and community engagement. The community extends to her professors. “They genuinely care about each student and their development, as well as provide a structure that fosters creativity and collaboration within my classes,” she said. Her career aspirations involve integrating her three areas of study. “I’m keen to venture into the tennis industry, using my business knowledge to establish my own tennis-related initiatives,” said Weeber. Using her understanding of Spanish to connect with a broader audience and create accessibility, Weeber said, “My vision is to make tennis inclusive for everyone and unite people through the love of this sport.”

Hoping for 30 years: Why we cheer for the Lions

When the Detroit Lions beat Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams 24–23 in the NFC Wild Card game on Jan. 24, Hope College’s Anne Bakker ’85 and Tom Davelaar ’72 were in their seats — Section 225, in the corner of the end zone — and they could hardly believe they’d won.

“We were both afraid they were going to lose that game,” Bakker said. “Nobody in the crowd knew quite what to do; we were all waiting for a flag to get thrown or something.”

“There were many years that we hoped something like this could happen, but we weren’t sure it ever would. Now to see it come to fruition the past two weeks has been a special thing,” said Davelaar, an assistant men’s basketball coach at Hope.

Tom Davelaar ’72 and Anne Bakker ’85

Davelaar has been a Lions season ticket holder since 2002, when Ford Field opened, and has been attending Lions games with Bakker since they married in 2012. Bakker is travel coordinator at Hope.

The Lions’ historic run has been a dream come true for both of them. The Lions, who this season claimed their first playoff wins since 1992, will face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 28, for the chance to win their first conference championship since 1957. A win would earn them a spot in the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

“It’s been a fun ride,” said Dr. Jayson Dibble, professor of communication at Hope. “I’m a fan of the game, and I’m happy for those fans who are finally getting to see their team succeed.”

Dibble is a Lions fan who loves the game: He officiates college football at the Division II level as well as local high school games. He’s quick to point out, though, that he doesn’t let his identity or self-esteem get wrapped up in the Lions’ success, as some of the more dedicated fans might.

From an academic perspective, he explains this phenomenon — how fans can get attached to players, coaches, even entire teams — through something called “parasocial relationships.”

“The idea of parasocial relationships suggests that our minds process these relationships very similarly to how they process our real-life relationships,” Dibble said. “The potential to form parasocial relationships can really set the stage for some of the fandom you see. 

“Fans can go through parasocial heartache, parasocial breakup, unrequited or unfulfilled ‘love,’ and so on. So when Lions fans are finally feeling some fulfillment, it’s the same in the mind as when a long lost love finally emerges from the wilderness and returns to us.”

Dr. Chad Carlson ’03, professor of kinesiology, conducts research focused on the socio-cultural aspects of sport. He explains some of the elements of fandom by pointing to shared human longing for community:

“We’re all interested in being part of a community of some sort or another,” he told me. “COVID tested that for us, but we’ve come out with a renewed interest in being part of a community, and sport offers us that opportunity, even if it is wholly virtual or spectatorial.”

Remember, though, that however imagined the community might be, the parasocial relationships mimic the feelings that come from real, social relationships. The feelings, in other words, are real. And this is true even when the community in question (in this case, of Lions fans) faces repeated losses, year after year.

“It’s easy to be part of a community that wins regularly. But there are also badges of honor or valor for those who are part of communities of teams that lose regularly,” Carlson said. He likened this to the leadup to the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series win. “There’s something honorable about being part of a community that supports a team that never wins the big one. I think that’s part of what attracts people to the Lions this season — it’s a team that’s on the upswing, for sure, but it’s a team that has never won the big one.”

For a fan base that has endured long years of disappointment, this year’s championship run brings an unfamiliar feeling: not of hope, exactly, but of hopes fulfilled. 

“As a long-time coach here at Hope, we always say this to our players, our staff, our recruits: There’s always hope,” said Davelaar. “For many years, there was always hope for the Lions — and now to see that being realized, at least in part, is a wonderful thing, a blessing.”

Carlson picked up on the theme of hope, too, turning the conversation toward a Christian perspective: “There might not be any better laboratory in the human experience than sport for us to understand the theological virtues of redemption and hope.

“When we lose, we know there’s always an opportunity for redemption. Redemption through Jesus Christ on the cross is never not offered to us as Christians. That is always part of the Christian’s story,” Carlson said. “If the Lions fall short, there’s always the next opportunity. So there’s something there that helps us to understand the theology of the Christian faith.

“Hope would be something similar, too,” Carlson continued. “There’s hope that springs eternal in sport. There’s always the next time, and we always step into it hoping — not knowing for sure what the outcome will be. Especially as spectators, we have no agency in this, so what we hope for is going to be done by somebody else, and there’s something theologically interesting in that: God and Jesus Christ have already done the work for the Christian.”

It’s that constant, recurring hope — even hope against impossible odds — that gave Dibble his metaphor for the Lions’ repeated quest to achieve postseason success: Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.

“Think of all the people who resonate with Lucy and Charlie Brown, when Lucy continually pulls the football away,” he said. “You know there’s absolutely no way Charles Schulz was going to draw Charlie Brown kicking the football — but your hope is still there.”

Lions fans have been hoping for the past 30 years. “And now they’re defying that expectation,” Dibble said. “Now Charles Schulz is finally drawing Charlie Brown kicking the football, and we’ve never seen that before. What does that look like?”

Bakker and Davelaar know what it looks like: It looks like watching two playoff wins at Ford Field with more than 66,000 other members of the long-suffering Lions community. 

Looking ahead to the Lions’ game against the 49ers on Sunday, I asked Bakker and Davelaar if they thought Charlie Brown was finally going to get the football.

They both agreed: “He already has.”

Photo of Ford Field by Dave Hogg, license CC BY 2.0.

People of Hope: Jill VanderStoep

Hope College isn’t just a place; it’s a community. A regular feature within “Stories of Hope,” People of Hope explores what that means by highlighting some of the students, faculty and staff who help make the campus family what it is.

Jill VanderStoep

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Instruction

Assistant Professor Jill VanderStoep

As a student in her sophomore year at Hope, Jill VanderStoep knew exactly what she wanted to do: teach.

She and her husband, Scott, a Hope classmate who is on the college’s psychology faculty, originally pursued their careers beyond West Michigan, but ultimately realized that they wanted to return to be closer to family.  Her next decision was easy. “Being back in West Michigan, I couldn’t think of a better place to teach than Hope College,” she said.

Thinking back on her time as a student at Hope, she reflected on things for which she was grateful. “First, the time and personal interest my professors invested in me while I was a student at Hope was amazing. Second, the challenges and growth that I experienced in my faith journey helped shape my Christian identity,” VanderStoep said. “Third, the strong and lasting bonds of friendships created during my four years at Hope have been a source of strength and comfort for me since graduating.”

“Being part of a learning community where students, faculty and staff are challenged to grow in all areas of their life is one of my favorite things about Hope.

Jill VanderStoep’s discipline is in mathematics and statistics, and her goal is for her students to become familiar and comfortable with data, to assist them no matter what field they pursue during or after college. “Whether my students realize it or not, throughout the semester they are learning to make decisions based on data,” VanderStoep said. “My priority is to create an environment where students feel comfortable to ask questions so that they can really understand how to use data to make decisions.”

It’s a philosophy that she has helped share with students around the country.  It was a few years into teaching at Hope College that she became part of a project with colleagues at Hope and elsewhere to revamp the statistics curriculum.  “The goal was to focus more on the statistical investigation process through active learning and guided discovery and to do that we had to put simulation-based inference at the heart of the curriculum,” VanderStoep said.

She’s found that the resulting textbook, Introduction to Statistical Investigations, that she co-authored has helped students to be much more engaged in the learning process and sees that they leave class with a fuller, better understanding of statistics.  Others clearly agree.  Introduction to Statistical Investigations and scholarly papers the team has written about the approach to teaching statistics have received multiple national awards.

Colleagues at Hope appreciate VanderStoep’s commitment to students’ learning as well.  This past January, she received the Janet L. Andersen Excellence in Teaching Award. The recognition is especially meaningful for VanderStoep because Andersen, a member of the mathematics faculty who died in a 2005 automobile accident, was herself acclaimed as an exceptional teacher. “Janet Anderson was a colleague of mine whom I admired greatly for her heart for reaching all students and guiding them to achieve the course goals,” VanderStoep said. “I have tried to embody that philosophy in my courses, so to receive this award is a great honor.”

Reflecting on her experience as a professor at Hope College, VanderStoep comments, “Being part of a learning community where students, faculty and staff are challenged to grow in all areas of their life is one of my favorite things about Hope. All three of my children graduated from Hope. I love Hope students. If there is anything I can do to help them to become who they were created to be, I stand at the ready.”

People of Hope: Owen Harries

Hope College isn’t just a place; it’s a community. A regular feature within “Stories of Hope,” People of Hope explores what that means by highlighting some of the students, faculty and staff who help make the campus family what it is.

Owen Harries

Sophomore, Lexington, South Carolina

As a sophomore at Hope College Owen Harries reflects on his first year saying, “If you’re worried about not finding your crowd, don’t be. Your people will find you.”

And Owen found his people, who include both professors and students. The sophomore, pursuing a degree in biology and in English, commented, “The professors really seem to care about their classes and students. I am quite close with a few of my profs, and one may even be helping me draft the novel I’m writing. If you’re interested in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] there are plenty of professors looking for help in their labs and a wide variety of different projects to get involved with.”

It’s those personal touches that drew Owen to Hope in the first place. “The moment that fully sold me on choosing Hope College was probably when I received THREE handwritten Christmas cards (from admissions as well as my track and cross country coaches),” Owen said. “The personal touch Hope brings to the table cannot be overstated.”

Owen has found many ways to foster his community at Hope. “I run cross country in the fall and track in the spring, serve on both Student Congress and HAS [Hope Advocates for Sustainability], am a member of the Arcadian fraternity and Hope Forward, and formerly wrote for the Anchor,” he said. “It [Hope College] does a good job of being a small school with a tight knit community without feeling TOO small. Very fun, good balance of social life vs academics (maybe a bit on the academics side, but probably better to be that than too party heavy).”

In terms of his academics, the opportunities provided by Hope’s commitment to the liberal arts enable him to pursue his dream of practicing medicine while continuing to write. “The goal is to one day balance the two, working as a doctor and writing on the side as a hobby,” he said.

Owen credits the Hope Forward program with making it possible. Hope Forward is the college’s initiative to fully fund tuition for all students by asking them to contribute to the college after graduation, supporting future students as they were supported, rather than pay tuition in advance, so that they can follow their calling rather than focus on repaying loans. The program, which also explores the concepts of generosity, access to college and community, has been piloted with 80 students while Hope seeks to raise enough funds for the entire student body. “Hope Forward has made the journey much easier financially and has given me more options for medical school since I won’t be burdened with debt from college,” he said.

When thinking about his plans as he begins his sophomore year, Owen commented, “I had great experiences as a freshman with upperclassmen on my cross country team and in my various clubs (Student Congress, Arkies). A lot of older guys showed me the ropes and really made me feel welcome at Hope. I look forward to being in that position this year, getting to act as a guide for the next wave of new students coming to our school. I’d like to give them the same great mentorship experience I had.”

A Message from the Shoah by a Daughter of Auschwitz

By Greg Olgers ’87

The Hope Academy of Senior Professionals gave a gift to the entire community in October, extending an open invitation to the group’s monthly meeting, which was featuring a presentation by Holocaust survivor Tova Friedman.

The result was a full house in the 800-seat Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts for the 9:30 a.m. event on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The response even included an entire high school history class, and parents who brought along their children after pulling them from school just for the opportunity.

At age six, Friedman was one of the youngest of the 7,000 prisoners found alive when the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in southern Poland on Jan. 24, 1945. “Thank you so much for being here,” she said as she began her remarks. “Because without you being here, the story and everything that happened to me and to other children would be lost.”

She noted that she speaks around the country, even now at age 85, with a sense of responsibility for those whose voices were silenced, and to do what she can to forestall the death of innocents in the future.

“The only thing I can do is talk about it,” she said. “I have no idea what good it does, but you know, even if there is no hope, your obligation is to hope.”

“Because without [hope] we can’t live,” she said. “I could not have survived Auschwitz.”

Tova Friedman
Tova Friedman

As explained by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, six million Jews, mostly from Europe, were murdered by Nazi Germany and its allies between 1933 and 1945. Of those who were killed, more than one million were murdered at the Auschwitz complex. The six million included 1.5 million children.

By sharing her story, Friedman sought to bring a relatable perspective to the statistics, and to bring attention to the destructiveness of hatred.

“Who can envision six million?” she said. “So let me tell you about one person. And the reason that I’m telling you: The story isn’t only mine. Because one person’s story is not that significant — it’s interesting, but it’s not significant. It’s a story of all the children who aren’t here.”

“I was not richer. I wasn’t smarter. My parents didn’t have special kind of, you know, knowledge. No. A lot of it was luck. 95% was luck,” Friedman said. “And you know, sometimes when people say to me, ‘You were chosen to live,’ I say, ‘No. No. If I was chosen to live, why were the other children chosen to die? What did they do? They weren’t even aware that there was a war, and they were shot and killed.’”

Auschwitz survivor Tova Friedman noted that she speaks around the country, even now at age 85, with a sense of responsibility for those whose voices were silenced, and to do what she can to forestall the death of innocents in the future.

Planned by HASP months in advance, the talk was originally envisioned as a way to consider historical context with the rise of anti-Semitism and prejudice in the world. It acquired additional immediacy in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel and the ongoing conflict resulting in civilian deaths on both sides.

“So I want to take you back and tell you what hatred did 80 years ago, and then you can see what hatred is doing now,” Friedman said. “Very scary, very upsetting, to me and I’m sure to all of you, because when people are murdered somewhere in the world, I think it’s a problem for all humanity — all of us — because we have much more in common as human beings than we have differences. We may be different religion, we may be different color, we may have different ideas, but basically we want the same thing. We want to live in peace with our families. That is the basic idea of most people.”

Friedman also stressed that understanding the intent and scale of the Holocaust today should be accompanied by understanding that what was to come wasn’t recognized in the years before it began.

“All these atrocities don’t happen suddenly,” she said. “I didn’t wake up in Auschwitz one day. It happened so slowly that you weren’t even aware that it was going on.”

“We can live our private lives, but you’ve got to be aware of the outside society,” Friedman said.

“So let me tell you how this started,” Friedman said. “And again:  slowly. There were rules. The Germans made all kinds of rules: ‘Jews cannot go to school with the other people’; ‘They cannot go the movies’; ‘They can’t use the libraries.’ It happened very slowly.”

“They had book-burning parties,” she said.  “They called it decadent writing.”

“And once, I asked my father, I said — he was a very smart man — ‘You heard what was going on, why did you just keep on, you know, doing business as usual?’ You know what he said to me? ‘Oh, yes, we heard all about the crazy man in Germany. And you know what we decided? Somebody’s going to kill him, assassinate him. Who’s going to listen to this crazy person?’ Well, millions and millions and millions of people listened to that crazy person, and that’s how he was able to do all of it. He couldn’t have done it alone.”

“[W]hen people are murdered somewhere in the world, I think it’s a problem for all humanity — all of us — because we have much more in common as human beings than we have differences. We may be different religion, we may be different color, we may have different ideas, but basically we want the same thing. We want to live in peace with our families.”

Auschwitz survivor Tova Friedman

Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. In 1940, Friedman explained, the Nazi forces reached her town, and immediately killed the Jewish teachers, elderly (including her grandparents), children, intellectuals, rabbis, doctors and lawyers. The Jewish members of the community who remained, she said, were isolated in a ghetto (she survived because her parents succeeded in hiding her). The killing continued, and illness and starvation also claimed lives.

All the while, she recalled, trains of cattle cars were taking people away. She and her parents endured, but eventually it was their turn as the Germans decided to clear the ghetto. Even as they were packed into the cars standing up, not everyone could fit.

“The shooting started because the cattle cars were full, and there were still people in the ghetto,” Friedman said.

After 36 hours on the train, she said, with no food and no place to go to the bathroom except where they stood, they arrived in Auschwitz, where upon arrival they were stripped of their clothes and forced to proceed naked while being inspected; those too weak to work could be removed and sent directly to the crematorium. She was allowed to stay with her mother (her father was sent elsewhere), although after later contracting and recovering from scarlet fever she was moved to a barracks with other children.

The deaths, she recalled, continued. The 12-year-old girl in the bed near her died of starvation. At one point, Friedman was sent with other children to the gas chamber, but it malfunctioned and they were returned to their barracks.

As the Russians approached in January 1945, the Germans burned what they could of the camp while rounding up some 50,000 survivors to march away. Her mother located her in the chaos and, with her mother knowing herself too weakened for the journey, they hid among the dead in a barracks. Friedman’s mother placed her under a sheet next to the corpse of a woman who had died so recently that she was still warm, warning Friedman not to breathe in a way that would cause the sheet to move.

After the camp was liberated — on Jan. 27, 1945 — Friedman and her mother reunited with her father and the family was initially placed in a camp for displaced persons. Later, she said, they learned that out of the 15,000 Jews who had been in their town before the war, only 200 survived.

She noted that she initially went to school while still in Poland, but even in the aftermath of the Holocaust other children called her a “dirty Jew” and a “Christ-killer,” so she stopped attending. “I didn’t learn to read until I was 12,” she said.

The family eventually immigrated to the United States, but her mother didn’t live long, dying at about age 45 when Friedman was 18. Sorrow, Friedman noted, played a role — her mother had lost 150 family members, including 10 siblings and all their children. “She missed the family and she felt such guilt for being a survivor that she died,” Friedman said. “My mother could not talk about it at all, except she cried when she thought of her family.”

In adulthood, Friedman directed a nonprofit social service agency for 25 years, and she continues to work as a therapist. In 2022, she published the memoir The Daughter of Auschwitz: My Story of Resilience, Survival and Hope, which she authored with journalist Malcolm Brabant. Her grandson has also helped connect her to the online platform TikTok, where she has reached an estimated 90 million people.

She noted that she is aware of only five Jewish children from her town who survived, one of whom remained in Europe; two of whom also came to the U.S. but have since died; and one of whom who, although in the U.S., is 90 and not as active. Recognizing her own mortality, Friedman closed with a request of the audience.

“Please remember my story. There’s nobody else to tell it after I’m gone. I’m going to speak as long as I can, but please: Now that I’ve told you my story, it’s your story. Please share it with other people,” she said.

“If you ever meet people that tell you that it didn’t happen, that it’s all a made-up story, you know it happened. And especially the young people in the audience who will be going to high school, college and jobs, you’ll always meet somebody who says, ‘This is just a ridiculous thing. People don’t do this to other people.’ They do. And let me tell you, they do more than I could possibly even describe to you. It’s absolutely indescribable,” Friedman said. “Share it with anybody you can. That’s the greatest gift that you could give me.”

Established in 1988, the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals (HASP) that brought Auschwitz survivor Tova Friedman to campus is a voluntary, lifelong learning program designed to enrich the intellectual, cultural and social lives of its more than 750 retired members. Through a variety of classes, lectures, book discussions, service projects, special-interest groups and events, members pursue avenues of study and engage in the exchange of ideas.  More information about HASP is available at

Friedman’s visit to Hope developed through her long-time connection with HASP member Milton Nieuwsma ’63 of Holland, Michigan. An Emmy-winning writer, Nieuwsma had interviewed her and two other women who had been among the children liberated — Frieda Tenenbaum and Rachel Hyams — for his 1998 book Surviving Auschwitz: Children of the Shoah, and wrote and co-produced a documentary with the same title based on the book and produced in 2005 by PBS affiliate by WGVU of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The film centers on Friedman and Tenenbaum as they returned to Auschwitz in the summer of 2004 accompanied by their own children and reflected on both their experience at the camp and their lives before and since.

She previously spoke at Hope in conjunction with a screening of Surviving Auschwitz: Children of the Shoah on Jan. 27, 2010, the 65th anniversary of her liberation from the Nazi death camp. The January 27 anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005.

The film was shown at Hope again on Oct. 9, to provide context in advance of her HASP-sponsored talk. The screening included a panel discussion with Nieuwsma; Ken Kolbe, who was the documentary’s executive producer and retired in 2021 as general manager for WGVU Public Media; and Phil Lane, who was director and cinematographer, and is director of content for WGVU Public Media. Following the Oct. 10 presentation, Nieuwsma also moderated a question-and-answer session with Friedman and her daughter, Taya, who is also in the film.

Watch the recorded livestream of Tova Friedman’s presentation:

Celebrating Together

Organized by the Asian Student Union in collaboration with the Kruizenga Art Museum, the campus commemoration of the historic Mid-Autumn Festival linked programs and people in celebrating the diverse traditions represented by the members of the Hope community of Asian heritage.

As a metaphor for connection, the moon was an apt symbol during the Mid-Autumn Festival held at the college’s Kruizenga Art Museum on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

Organized by the Asian Student Union in collaboration with the museum, the campus commemoration of the historic festival linked programs and people in celebrating the diverse traditions represented by the members of the Hope community of Asian heritage. A mix of students, faculty and staff attended the event, which featured a musical performance and poetry readings, hors d’oeuvres from a variety of Asian cultures, and the opportunity to craft paper lanterns and practice calligraphy — all amid the museum’s two gallery spaces and major fall exhibition, “A New Art for a New China: Modern Chinese Prints from the Ihrman Collection.”

When the Kruizenga Art Museum asked the students of the Asian Student Union if they were interested in partnering in some way during the exhibition “A New Art for a New China: Modern Chinese Prints from the Ihrman Collection,” they jumped at the chance.  “A very big part of our work as the Asian Student Union is dismantling the myths that Asian culture and cultures are monolithic…  For the art museum, as a college department, to reach out to a student organization I think is an incredible way to foster that sort of engagement in the community.”

—Carole Chee, Hope senior and ASU president

Hope senior Carole Chee, who is president of the Asian Student Union (ASU), noted that a version of the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in multiple East- and Southeast-Asian cultures, including China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, each with its own traditions.

“It’s just a very big cultural and also a community event in a lot of cultures,” she said. “You can kind of think of it like Thanksgiving, where it’s a time for family to come together and celebrate.”

The Chinese version of the festival, sometimes called the Moon Festival or the Mooncake Festival, dates back some 3,000 years, and celebrates harvest time when the moon is full (the Hope event was a few days early — the actual festival was on Sept. 29 this year). Lanterns are displayed as symbolic beacons to light a path to good fortune, and mooncake pastries are a staple.

Charles Mason, who is the director and Margaret Feldmann Kruizenga Curator of the Kruizenga Art Museum, shared the concept of the moon as a way of connecting people when he opened the evening’s performances with a reading — in both Chinese and English — of the poem “Quiet Night Thought,” by Tang dynasty poet Li Bai (701–762), which Mason explained is often associated with the festival:

Before my bed lies a pool of moonlight
I could imagine that it’s frost on the ground
I look up and see the bright shining moon
Bowing my head I am thinking of home.

A specialist in Asian art, Mason was introduced to the poem while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Chinese language and literature at Cambridge University in England. Far from his native United States, he was feeling homesick when a friend encouraged him to find comfort in the poem’s imagery: that he could look up and see the moon at the same time that his family was seeing it, and perhaps feel the distance less.

Following Mason’s reading, Dr. Dennis Feater, associate professor of social work and social work program director, read the poem “Mid-Autumn Moon,” by Li Qiao; freshman pianist Rachel Chia Yen Ning performed “Moonlight in the City”; and senior An Ha read three original poems: “Me Con – a story of motherhood,” “Ancestors” and “A Love Letter to My Mexican Sisters.”

ASU has celebrated the festival, honoring the tradition’s many expressions, for several years, but usually in a smaller venue such as the Keppel House, which is home of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion where ASU is based. When the Kruizenga Art Museum asked the students if they were interested in partnering in some way during the Aug. 26–Dec. 16 exhibition, they jumped at the chance.

“A very big part of our work as the Asian Student Union is dismantling the myths that Asian culture and cultures are monolithic. Every individual experience within those cultures and with those cultures is unique,” Chee said.  “We thought it would be a fun way to continue the tradition, and maybe expand it a little bit, especially our audience and just what the event would look like, being able to share that through the art, and through the performances and discussions with attendees.”

“All of our events — I’m speaking for ASU, but I think for all the MSOs [multicultural student organizations] — are open to anybody,” she said. “Maybe you’re entering a group where you might not know a lot about its history or what it represents — just come open to learn. We will welcome you with open arms in a spirit of mutual respect and recognition that we are all humans and we’re all on this earth.”

“The college emphasizes ‘Bring hope to the world,’ and we want to bring the world to Hope…  And we want our students and faculty and staff and the community and people in this area to know that they can learn about and be engaged by different things, and in a safe space, in a way that they maybe wouldn’t in their day-to-day lives.”

—Allie Lewis, visitor services coordinator, Kruizenga Art Museum

“For the art museum, as a college department, to reach out to a student organization I think is an incredible way to foster that sort of engagement in the community,” Chee said. “Allie Lewis, the museum’s visitor services coordinator, was incredible in creating that outreach, being able to spread a little visibility, and providing us more resources to make this an event that we could welcome a lot of people to.”

Serving as a resource, writ large, for the campus and Holland communities has been the museum’s mission since it opened in 2015.

“We try to connect with as many student groups as our calendar allows through the year,” Lewis said.

“For example, we are working with all but one multicultural student organizations this year, plus we’re doing things with Hope Sustainability, Hope Catholics and STEP [Students Teaching and Empowering Peers],” she said.  “We have a variety of events, and they vary in scale. For our major exhibition this spring, ‘New Roots, Deep Shoots: Contemporary and Modern African Art,’ we worked with the Black Student Union and Pan African Student Association to go through what we were thinking for the exhibition, because we wanted it to represent them and we want the students to come.”

In the same way, the museum engages with academic departments.

“Our collection has 8,000 objects. And one of the reasons that it is that size is so that when a professor comes to us and wants to know how art relates to something like chemistry or art architecture or what’s happened historically, or dance, we can pull from those 8,000 objects and share art that is relevant to all of these topics.  Or, we can add to our collection to meet the needs of the curriculum,” Lewis said.

“The college emphasizes ‘Bring hope to the world,’ and we want to bring the world to Hope. So, we have a broad representation of different cultures and people and styles represented within our collection. It features European-American art, but it also features African art, and we have a huge Asian art collection,” she said. “And we want our students and faculty and staff and the community and people in this area to know that they can learn about and be engaged by different things, and in a safe space, in a way that they maybe wouldn’t in their day-to-day lives.”

In the case of “A New Art for a New China: Modern Chinese Prints from the Ihrman Collection,” Hope is one of the few places in the world that people can even see the art in person.

The collection includes more than 1,500 prints donated to the Kruizenga Art Museum in 2021 by Michigan native Dr. David Ihrman, who had collected them between the late 1980s and early 2000s with his late wife, Huang Dong Ihrman. Other museums were in the running to receive the pieces, with Hope selected due to a combination of Mason’s expertise and the scale of the college’s extant Asian collection, and family ties (David Ihrman’s parents were Hope alumni: Donald ’49 and Lynne VanWeelden ’51 Ihrman).

“The Ihrman Collection is, I believe, the largest and most important collection of modern Chinese prints in the United States and perhaps the second most important collection of modern Chinese prints outside of China,” Mason said. “The other one is in England.”

In the case of “A New Art for a New China: Modern Chinese Prints from the Ihrman Collection,” Hope is one of the few places in the world that people can even see the art in person.  “The Ihrman Collection is, I believe, the largest and most important collection of modern Chinese prints in the United States and perhaps the second most important collection of modern Chinese prints outside of China.”

—Charles Mason, director and Margaret Feldmann Kruizenga Curator of the Kruizenga Art Museum


The exhibition “A New Art for a New China: Modern Chinese Prints from the Ihrman Collection” runs through Saturday, Dec. 16. There will be a public reception on Thursday, Nov. 16, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Kruizenga Art Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free.  More information is available at

More information about the college’s multicultural student organizations (Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, Hope Advocates for Invisible Conditions, Latino Student Organization, Men’s Enrichment Network, Pan African Student Association, PRISM and Women of Color United) is available at