It's not often that Hope breaks ground for a major building.
Thanks to those who have supported the college through the Legacies: A Vision of Hope campaign, it happened twice within seven days--once for the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse on Friday, April 23, and again for the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication on Thursday, April 29. Hundreds attended the ceremonies for the eagerly awaited structures.
"We as a campus community are excited to be celebrating the start of construction on the DeVos Fieldhouse and the Martha Miller Center, and are equally eager for their completion," said President James E. Bultman '63. "Both buildings are highly anticipated for the important support they will provide to programs that have outgrown their current homes."
The DeVos Fieldhouse will house the department of kinesiology and the college's athletic training program, and will also serve as home court for the college's volleyball and men's and women's basketball teams. Designed to seat approximately 3,400 fans, it will also serve as a venue for other college and community events.
The Martha Miller Center for Global Communication will house the departments of communication and modern and classical languages, and the offices of international education and multicultural life. The emphasis in the mix is on ways that the four programs can interconnect.
Both buildings are scheduled to be completed for the 2005-06 academic year.
The 102,000 square foot DeVos Fieldhouse is being constructed on Fairbanks Avenue between Ninth and 11th streets, on the Eastern Gateway to both Holland and Hope. The two-story, 49,000 square foot Martha Miller Center is being constructed on Columbia Avenue between 10th and 11th streets.
The DeVos Fieldhouse was acclaimed for the important role it will play in Hope's educational mission.
"In American higher education it has long been recognized that to develop fully, a person must improve in the mind, the spirit and the body," said Dr. R. Richard Ray Jr., who is a professor of kinesiology, athletic trainer and chairperson of the department. "As marvelous as the intellect is, and as blessed as we are when we revel in a oneness with God, how much more are these gifts magnified in what St. Paul reminds us is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Indeed, the development of our bodies, in concert with our minds and spirits, is a worthy and noble calling, one that befits the construction of this magnificent building."
The kinesiology and athletic training programs are currently housed in the college's Dow Center. The men's basketball team has played its home games at the aging Holland Civic Center, and the women's basketball and volleyball teams have played their home games at the Dow Center. The relocations will not only make more room for other programs within the Dow Center but also make the gymnasium more available for intramurals and other student use.
Participants in the groundbreaking included Hope students Bria Ebels and Jeff Carlson, both of Holland, Mich., and members of the women's and men's basketball teams respectively. As seniors, they will play in the new building in its first year.
"This is definitely something that we have all dreamed of," Ebels said. "And now, because of generous and helpful people, our dream is becoming a reality. I personally look forward to playing in a facility that matches the first-rate experience that I have had my first two years at Hope College."
Carlson said, "Although it will be sad to leave the Civic Center, there's one place I'd rather play, and it's not at Knollcrest [Calvin's home court]. It's here, at the DeVos Fieldhouse, which will be the best Division III facility in the country. Where the Dew Crew can be wilder and crazier than they already are. Where more faculty and community members can watch us play. Where I don't need to worry about a ceiling tile falling on my head. And what better place for us finally to raise a national championship banner."
The fieldhouse is being named for Richard and Helen DeVos, honoring the couple's impact on the quality of life in western Michigan, the Holland community and at Hope. The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation contributed a $7.5 million anchor gift to the project.
Son-in-law Robert Vander Weide, whose wife Cheri DeVos '82 Vander Weide is on the college's Board of Trustees, spoke on behalf of the family. He reflected on how the course of campus life will bring life to the building.
"It will be the Hope-Calvin rivalry that will make it stand on its end," he said. "It'll be the student who comes in there and takes a class and is better educated for life about his or her wellness. It'll be the new relationship started, or maybe it'll be the friendship gained that could last a lifetime," he said.
"We are very excited that the kids here at Hope, and a little selfishly maybe my daughters or son, will be able to compete in the most state-of-the-art facility, have fun, and know that they do it with a Christ-like vision," Vander Weide said.
On the most basic level, the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication will provide modern and expanded space for four programs that need it--and as a cascade effect will make room in their former homes for others to use. The new building has especially earned praise, however, for enabling them to add up to more together than they are individually.
"All of the programs in this building represent a marvelous part of God's creation. He gave us our creation and our geographic regions of the world where our students go. He gave us language. He gave us the ability to communicate and to relate to each other, and this wonderful diversity of cultures," said Dr. James N. Boelkins '66, provost at Hope. "In many respects, we have disintegrated what God has created and put it in boxes. I envision that this building will reintegrate these programs in a way that they were intended. And I think it will do marvelous things for our students and our programs here at Hope."
"A good education is available at many colleges and universities," said Dr. Neal Sobania '68, director of international education and professor of history. "In the 21st century, the touchstone of a first-class education, I believe, will prove to be the stature of international or internationalized faculty and students, learning languages, communicating globally, celebrating diversity and experiencing the world first-hand."
Several international students participated in the groundbreaking activities for the Martha Miller Center. Among them was junior Sarah Quesada Lubbers of Queretaro, Mexico, who can appreciate the building on several levels. She is a fourth generation Hope student whose great-grandfather was Dr. Irwin Lubbers '17, the seventh president of Hope College. Her parents are Dr. Sergio and Dr. Margaret Lubbers '78 Quesada, who teach and are in administration at the Autonomous University of Queretaro, with which Hope has an exchange relationship. She is a communication and French major who plans to spend the coming year abroad in France.
And then she'll be back just in time to enjoy the new building as a senior.
"I'll be very excited to start my classes," she said. "I'll probably spend all my time there."
The Martha Miller Center is being named in honor of the late Martha Muller '24 Miller, who died on Sunday, May 16, 1999, at age 96. Miller's family provided a $3 million leadership gift on behalf of the project through her estate.
Philip D. Miller '65 of Holland, Mich., a member of the college's Board of Trustees and one of her three children, considered the college's central place in the family's history--for example, he noted, his grandparents and his mother and her siblings moved to Holland from Illinois after her eldest brother started attending the college. More specifically, however, he saw the building, given its focus, as a fitting namesake for the mother and woman he remembers.
"She loved her friends, she loved travel, she loved people, and she simply loved living," he said. "And obviously, she loved Hope College. So as a family, we look at a building that encompasses languages, communication, multicultural life and international education and say it couldn't be a more appropriate building to put Martha Miller's name on to reflect her love of people and the diversity of life. So in closing, I want to say, 'Thanks, Mom.'"