President Dennis Voskuil is a leader who speaks of a clear vision for a year of celebrating, appreciating and enabling success for all students and faculty. As a professor at Hope College for 17 years, a total of eight years as the chairman of the Religious Studies Department and the Athletic Committee chair for four years, the strong and true blue-and-orange spirit runs deep within his heart.
More recently, he has served as the president of Western Theological Seminary from 1994 to 2008. However, a part of him willed to return to the place that set his passion for teaching ablaze. When asked to return to Hope as the interim president, he claims that there was no question in the direction he was being pulled.
In an interview last Thursday, President Voskuil shared his desires to continue the efforts of former President Knapp with globalizing Hope and encouraging further diversity. When asked where these values stem from, he explained that his faith is the compass for each direction he takes. For him, being a Christian means being one in Christ. It means spreading that direction without boundaries. He does not see increased diversity as a check mark in a box, but rather a part of his Christian mission.
According to President Voskuil, the catalyst to creating this progress lies in “trust and building community around that trust.” He explained that a part of progress is also celebrating history and tradition. Including Nykerk, The Pull and historical buildings such as Van Vleck Hall, the original building on Hope’s campus, there are constant reminders of the Dutch settlers that strived to bring a wholistic education to young men and women.
With these ideals, President Voskuil wants to be accessible for students. To him, this means living and sharing meals on campus, riding his blue and orange bike to meetings and holding classes in his home for first year seminars. At dinnertime, you can often find President Voskuil, and his wife, Betty, eating on campus at Phelps or Cook Hall. In fact, President Voskuil shared that the pair has been so busy with exploring their new community, that they have yet to have a home cooked meal since arriving on campus.
He plans to continue this theme of accessibility to Hope sports, arts and other extracurricular activities. Although he is an avid basketball player, he claims to be a strong supporter of all Hope athletics and can often be found checking updates on the past evening’s athletic events first thing in the morning. He also finds enjoyment in singing and worship and expressed desire to be present at many chapels and Gatherings in support of Hope’s chapel band and lighting and audio crew.
President Voskuil’s only reserve for the next two years is that there is less time he will be able to spend with his grandchildren. He went on to explain his hope that this change will provide opportunities for them to get involved on campus as well. He made it clear that the decision to accept his presidential terms, along with most, are made in consultation with Betty. The pair hold very strong family ties that they wish to extend to the Hope community as they ask for prayers with these next years.