Hope Board Chair Seeks to Assure Campus

April 25, 2016

Mary V. Bauman, chair of the Hope College board, sent out a message to the campus this weekend that pledged to work on tensions that have surfaced after word spread that board members were talking about firing President John C. Knapp, who enjoys wide support from students, faculty members and alumni. "There is no question we could have handled this personnel issue better. However, please understand that the actions of the board, whether you agree with them or not, are done with what we believe to be in the best interest of Hope College, and not for any personal or ideological differences," said the email from Bauman. The email said that the board would work to "earn back your trust," and that the board supported efforts to diversify the campus. The email also said that board leaders would not try to fire Knapp at a board meeting next month, although it made no promises beyond that. Referring to the protests of students and others who backed Knapp, Bauman wrote, "I am so very proud of the positive and respectful activism that has been demonstrated by so many of you in these difficult times."

On campus, several sources supportive of the president, speaking anonymously, said that they weren't impressed with the email since it didn't acknowledge that the recent tensions came about because of board actions. Further, they asked why the board wasn't pledging to keep the president beyond May.

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