In the events that transpired last week, Hope College has been given some reassurance. In an email distributed by the Division of Public Affairs and Marketing, Mary Bauman, chair of the Board of Trustees, sent an email regarding the rumors of President John Knapp’s dismissal and to provide more context of the situation.
Bauman began with applauding the respectful activism displayed by the students. She stated that there is much to do to earn the trust of the students, and the board will work as hard as possible to regain it. Future problems will be addressed differently and promptly.
Bauman stated that the “Hope for the World: 2025 Strategic Plan, and Hope College’s commitment to increasing diversity” is still in effect and the college as a whole plans to increase the diversity of the student body. In terms of Knapp’s position at the college, Bauman said that the Executive board will not call for termination of his contract but will “devote time to reflect, discern and consider what is in the best interest of the Hope community.”
Bauman ended with admitting that the board could have done a better job of handling the situation that led to a silent protest by students a week ago. She added that the college and board will work together to move forward. Since the student-led protest there have been three major online campaigns in support of Knapp which include one led by a group called “Students4Knapp” that has led to various twitter hashtags including #students4knapp, #faculty4knapp and #alumni4knapp, another which is an anonymously-run website outlining the concerns for board’s reasoning behind Knapp’s alleged dismissal. The last of these campaigns is a petition on change.org, which allows people to submit their name in support of Knapp.
This controversy began when Rich Ray stepped down as provost. However, this didn’t necessarily correlate with the board’s sudden discussions about Knapp’s future.