The landmark anniversary history “Hope College at 150,” which in one sense has been more than a century and a half in the making, will debut during the college’s Alumni Day celebration on Saturday, April 27.
Subtitled “Anchored in Faith, Educating for Leadership and Service in a Global Society,” the two-volume, 1,410-page history has been published by the college’s Van Raalte Press as part of the Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America. The editor and primary author is Jacob E. Nyenhuis, who is professor and provost emeritus of Hope and director of the college’s A.C. Van Raalte Institute, with multiple chapters written by current and former faculty and staff as well as alumni, all with long associations with Hope.
“Hope College at 150: Anchored in Faith, Educating for Leadership and Service in a Global Society” is the first comprehensive history of the college, which was chartered in 1866, since “A Century of Hope” was published in 1968. “A Century of Hope” followed the college’s 1966 centennial celebration, and “Hope College at 150” follows Hope’s 2016 sesquicentennial year.
Alumni from within the first 100-some years of the college’s history will be the first to experience the publication. The members of the college’s 50-Year Circle, which consists of alumni of 50 years or more ago, will attend a presentation about it by Nyenhuis and some of the other authors during their annual Alumni Day luncheon.
The two-volume set will subsequently be available for purchase at the college’s Haworth Inn and Conference Center from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on April 27, immediately preceding the Alumni Banquet that evening, with Nyenhuis available to sign copies. The Hope College bookstore will also begin carrying “Hope College at 150” at 2 p.m. on April 27.
“Hope College at 150” carries the college’s story from its chartering through the sesquicentennial, but some parts of the story extend well beyond 2016. To provide an accessible narrative as well as a lasting resource for researchers, the volumes are organized into nine thematic chapters complemented by 12 detailed appendices, and illustrated with hundreds of photographs, most in color.
“The trajectory of Hope College is not a continuous upward path — there are zigs and zags along the way,” said Nyenhuis, who has been at the college for 44 years, and noted that planning for the book began more than a decade ago. “But the contrast between the simple beginnings and where we are in the second decade of the 21st century is tremendous.”
“What I set out to do was tell the fascinating story of Hope College from its conception to the present day, and to record for posterity a great deal of information that would prove useful,” he said. “I tried to put in, as much as possible, not only a record of what has happened but also some key historical documents and the record of how things have changed.”
Hope, which is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, traces its origins to the Pioneer School, a Christian secondary school founded in 1851 by the Rev. Albertus C. Van Raalte as the Holland community’s first educational institution. The Pioneer School evolved into the Holland Academy, which in 1862 enrolled its first college class. Hope was chartered by the State of Michigan on May 14, 1866, the date that the college uses for anchoring its anniversaries.
The college’s Class of 1866 had eight graduates. This year’s graduating Class of 2019 is anticipated to have more than 700. Featured in “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges,” Hope has received national acclaim on multiple measures through the years and is nationally respected as a pioneer and leader in providing an outstanding education by engaging undergraduate students in inquiry-based learning through collaborative research with faculty mentors.
The thematic chapters cover the academic program, architecture, finances, sports, student life, diversity and inclusion, the alumni association, and the relationship between the college and the Reformed Church in America. The appendices include a listing of all the faculty (and their progress through the academic ranks), profiles of presidents and senior leaders, a history of all the student organizations, 150 years of enrollment and financial data, lists of endowed professorships, notable alumni, honorary degree and other award recipients, college songs and strategic plans. In addition, the name index includes some 6,000 names, and the subject index runs to 60 pages.
Nyenhuis joined the Hope faculty in 1975 as professor of classics and dean for the humanities, and was appointed dean for the arts and humanities in 1978 and provost in 1984. He retired in 2001 and subsequently directed the Van Raalte Institute from 2002 until 2015, when he was succeeded by Dennis N. Voskuil. He returned to the directorship in 2017, when Voskuil became the college’s interim president for the next two years. Nyenhuis is also the founding editor-in-chief of the Van Raalte Press.
The other authors are: Michael J. Douma, who is an assistant research professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and as a Hope student had worked for the college’s Joint Archives of Holland; Alfredo M. Gonzales, who is associate provost emeritus and dean emeritus of international and multicultural education at Hope; John E. Jobson, who is associate dean of students at Hope; James C. Kennedy, who is dean of University College at the University of Utrecht (the Netherlands), honorary research fellow at the Van Raalte Institute, and a former associate professor of history at Hope; Thomas L. Renner, who is the retired associate vice president for public and community relations at Hope, where he was also the long-time sports-information director and Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association publicist; Robert P. Swierenga, who is the Albertus C. Van Raalte Research Professor at the Van Raalte Institute and a professor emeritus of history at Kent State University; Scott Travis, who is executive director of alumni engagement at Hope; and Dennis N. Voskuil, who in addition to being the college’s 13th president from 2017 through 2019 and former director of the Van Raalte Institute, is the Marvin and Jerene DeWitt Professor Emeritus of Church History and president emeritus of Western Theological Seminary, as well as a former member of the Hope religion faculty.
Additional research for the list of notable alumni in appendix 8 was conducted by Elton J. Bruins, who is the Philip Phelps Jr. Research Professor Emeritus and founding director emeritus of the Van Raalte Institute, and the Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink Professor Emeritus of Religion at Hope; and Mackenzie Schumborg, who worked on appendix 9 (student life) as a Hope student. The editorial associate and copy editor was JoHannah Smith, who is also office manager of the Van Raalte Institute; custom-created maps were by Mark Cook, who is auxiliary enterprise project manager at Hope and retired as manager of the college’s bookstore; layout and design were by Russell L. Gasero, archivist of the Reformed Church in America; and the cover design was by Willem Mineur.
“Hope College at 150: Anchored in Faith, Educating for Leadership and Service in a Global Society” costs $100. The Haworth Inn and Conference Center is located at 225 College Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets. The Hope College Bookstore is on the lower level of the DeWitt Center, which is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue between 10th and 13th streets, and can be visited online.