Hope College announces new president
Dr. John C. Knapp was selected to be the next president of Hope College Monday. After serving as Hope’s president since 1999, James Bultman will be retiring at the end of this academic year and Knapp will take his place as the college’s 12th president.
Hope College is located about 35 miles southwest of Calvin College in Holland, Mich. The two schools are similarly-sized Christian D-III institutions, and they also maintain one of the most historic rivalries in the United States, rooted in a division between the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church.
As the president-elect of Hope, Knapp hopes to continue infusing critical thinking and the application of new knowledge to Christian liberal arts education.
“In our complex global society where change seems to be the one constant, an educated person must know how to learn, think critically, take multiple perspectives and apply new knowledge,” Knapp said in a press release.
“A Christian liberal arts education adds substantial value by helping students grapple with the greatest questions facing them and their world.”
Mary Bauman, chairperson of Hope’s Board of Trustees, believes that Knapp is an ideal person to lead Hope after Bultman retires.
“We are thankful for the outstanding contributions of President Bultman and we believe that Dr. Knapp will build on that incredible legacy,” said Bauman in the press release.
“Dr. Knapp is the right leader for Hope College at this time in her history. Never before has it been more important to equip our students for lives of leadership and service in a global society,” she continued.
Dr. Knapp was selected as the next Hope College president after the board underwent a nationwide search process for a qualified candidate.
In addition to founding the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., Knapp has also served as an adjunct Professor of Ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary and Professor of Ethical Leadership at Kennesaw State University. He also served as a charter member of the Robert J. Rutland Institute for Ethics at Clemson University.
Shirley Hoogstra, vice president of student life at Calvin, thinks that Knapp will be a great president for Hope and will help to improve Christian higher education.
“What a superb choice for Hope College,” Hoogstra said. “When I read the announcement, I thought, ‘God is blessing Christian higher education with great leaders — first our own, Dr. Le Roy and also Dr. Knapp at Hope College.’”
“His background in ethics and leadership, his strong academic work and practical application through writing and speaking will enhance Hope College and my hope the larger Christian College world. I say, ‘Congratulations, Hope College. Well done!’ And to Dr. Knapp, I’d say, ‘Welcome to Western Michigan, know that you have friends in Christian Higher Education here at Calvin College,’” she continued.
Knapp graduated from Georgia State University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science in urban life with a concentration in communication. Later on, in 1995 he earned a master’s degree in theological studies at Columbia Theological Seminary. Then, in 1999, Knapp achieved a doctorate of philosophy, in theology and religious studies, at the University of Wales, United Kingdom.
Furthermore, Hope’s press release states that “Knapp’s enthusiasm for coming to Hope stems from his lifelong interest in integrating a Christian ethical perspective into the education of young people, a focus he’s pursued for the past two decades, most recently at Samford and previously at Georgia State University. He noted that he is excited to have the opportunity to serve as president at a college that he feels offers students the strongest combination of academic excellence and Christian character in the nation.”
Knapp has wide-ranging experience with education, business, and community outreach. He has also written several books, such as “For the Common Good: The Ethics of Leadership in the 21st Century” and “How the Church Fails Businesspeople.”
According to Knapp’s extensive biography on Hope College’s website, he has worked with many organizations, agencies and universities to deal with a variety of issues including “product safety, work-force reductions, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, overseas labor policies, environmental impact, worker safety, executive misconduct and workplace violence.”