Dr. John B. Hulst
Dr. John B. Hulst was president of Dordt College from 1982 to 1996. Like Haan, his association with and commitment to Dordt began long before his presidency and was the focus of most of his professional career. As a Christian Reformed pastor in Northwest Iowa, he supported efforts to begin the college and can be seen in photographs taken at the ground breaking. In 1968, he became Dordt’s dean of students and later vice president for student services. He held that position until his appointment as president in 1982.
Hulst did not consider himself a “professional” college president. He was only interested in being president of Dordt College because he was so convinced of its mission—to give young people the educational foundation to live lives of Christian service in whatever vocation they chose. Hulst’s presidency was marked by its emphasis on further developing an integrated Christian perspective that spanned the whole curriculum and all areas of life. He talked often about the “inner reformation of the sciences” by which he meant Christian scholars coming to a biblical understanding of their disciplines.
Hulst’s presidency built on that of Rev. B.J. Haan. He frequently noted that to be Reformed is to be always reforming, and he worked tirelessly to broaden the college’s commitment to developing in its students a reformational Christian understanding of their task in life.
Dordt’s first strategic plan, titled Renewing the Vision, was formulated during Hulst’s presidency, capturing the vision laid out at its founding and deepened and made more concrete throughout its first four decades. A new statement of purpose, The Educational Task of Dordt College, was formulated and adopted by the end of Hulst’s tenure. The document now serves as the biblically based, confessional foundation for the entire academic enterprise at Dordt College.
The master’s program in education began, as did the Center for Educational Services, an effort to work together with Christian elementary and high schools to promote holistic Christian education. Dordt College received its first $1 million gift during those years, enrollment stayed steady, the number of Ph.D.s on the faculty increased, six new buildings were added, and technology became an everyday part of campus life.
Hulst also devoted significant time to promoting Christian higher education outside of Dordt’s campus through organizations like the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education (IAPCHE), the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), and many more. When he retired in 1996, he served as executive secretary for IAPCHE for several years.
To learn more about J.B. Hulst, see A Doorkeeper in God’s Household: The Memoirs of John B. Hulst.