Alfredo Gonzales, associate provost at Hope College, has been honored for his central role in fostering connections between Holland and Queretaro, Mexico.
The city of Santiago de Queretaro presented Gonzales with its "Germán Patiño Díaz" Medal on Tuesday, July 25, during a formal ceremony held in conjunction with festivities commemorating Queretaro's 475th anniversary. He was one of only five individuals or organizations to receive awards during the event, which took place during an official session of the city council in the community's Theater of the Republic, the same location in which Mexico's constitution was written in 1917.
The "Germán Patiño Díaz" Medal is given to those dedicated to the creation, promotion and dissemination of the culture of Queretaro. Gonzales was recognized for his involvement in the creation and flourishing of the sister-city relationship between Holland and Queretaro as well as the on-going exchange relationship between the Autonomous University of Queretaro and Hope, both of which recently marked their first decade.
He was in Queretaro as a member of a delegation visiting from Holland to participate in the 475th birthday celebration. Mayor Albert McGeehan, also a member of the delegation, noted that the award reflects the high esteem in which Gonzales is held throughout the community of Queretaro.
"He is known and he is recognized on the streets of Queretaro as much as he is known and recognized here at home," McGeehan said. "He adds a very appropriate personal touch to the professional expertise that it takes to advocate for a sister-city relationship or an educational exchange program."
Gonzales was instrumental in fostering the two cities' ties as a member of Holland's International Relations Commission, which he now chairs, and the college's and university's relationship as a member of Hope's administration, and has continued to represent both Holland and Hope as the relationships have developed and strengthened.
"I think the two have been very compatible and both have benefited from his stewardship and guidance and leadership," McGeehan said.
Hope College President Dr. James Bultman likewise praised Gonzales's service as an ambassador for the college and city.
"It's a great award and very much deserved," he said. "Alfredo is our primary contact with the University of Queretaro and has established very meaningful relationships with the personnel there as well as in the city. Their affection for Hope and for Holland is in large measure due to his tireless work."
The sister-city relationship between Holland and the city of Queretaro began with approval by Queretaro in December 1995 and by the Holland City Council in February 1996.
Hope's relationship with the Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro began shortly thereafter, with the two schools signing a formal agreement in May of 1996 to investigate ways the two institutions could develop connections. In the years since the relationship has included student exchanges, performances by visiting musicians and dance companies, and even competition in football.
The city of Queretaro was founded in 1531 by the Spanish. Located approximately 135 miles north of Mexico City, Queretaro has approximately 800,000 residents.
The Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro began in 1625 as the College of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The university offers undergraduate degree programs in more than 30 fields as well as M.A. and Ph.D. programs.
Gonzales's responsibilities at Hope include general academic administration, developing strategies for recruiting multicultural faculty and enhancing multicultural learning at Hope, and oversight of capital and operating budgets. He has administrative responsibility for the college's A.C. Van Raalte Institute, Office of Multicultural Life, Office of International Education and Women's Studies program, and is chair of Hope's annual Critical Issues Symposium. He has also been centrally involved in the Preparing Future Faculty Program between Howard University and Hope College.
In 1998, he received the "Michigan Outstanding Hispanic of the Year" "Honorable Mention" award from the Michigan Educational Opportunity Fund Inc. In 1997, through one of only 24 fellowships awarded worldwide by the Ford Foundation, he participated in the "International Seminar on Diversity Issues in Higher Education" in New Delhi, India. In April 2004 he received the fifth annual "Vanderbush-Weller Development Fund" award, given for strong, positive impact on students.
Gonzales joined the Hope staff in 1979 as director of the college's Upward Bound program, a position that continued with his appointment as director of minority student affairs in 1984. In 1986 he was named assistant dean of multicultural life, working in the Office of Student Development to strengthen the multicultural life at the college, assisting the admissions office in recruiting minority students, and developing contacts with area high schools and other organizations. He was named assistant provost in 1990 and associate provost in 2001.
He has been active in the community beyond his work with the International Relations Commission. He was a founding member of the Tulipanes Latino Art and Film Festival, and is past chair of the Holland Community Hospital Board of Directors, the Michigan Commission for Spanish Speaking Affairs and LAUP Inc. He has also served on the boards of Western Theological Seminary, First of America Bank Corporation and the Holland Area Arts Council.
Gonzales and his wife, Maria, have two children, Abbie, who graduated from Hope in 2003, and Sarah, who graduated in 2004.