The debut of portraits honoring four of Hope College’s first international and minority graduates will be celebrated with two events on Saturday, Feb. 2.
The first of the activities will be the seminar “Celebrating Hope College’s Early Graduates,” being presented at 9:30 a.m. at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center as part of the college’s annual Winter Happening. The second, a reception at 2 p.m. at the second-floor rotunda of the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication, will feature the portraits in their permanent campus home.
The public is invited to both the seminar and the reception. Admission is free, although advance registration is recommended for the seminar.
The portraits show Motoichiro Oghimi and Kumaji Kimura of Japan, who as members of the Class of 1879 were Hope’s first international-student graduates; the Rev. James Collins Ottipoby, a member of the Class of 1925 who was Hope’s first Native American graduate; and James Carter Dooley Jr., a member of the Class of 1932 who was Hope’s first African-American graduate. The paintings are the work of artist Paul Collins of Grand Rapids.
According to Alfredo Gonzales, who is associate provost and dean for international and multicultural education at Hope, the college commissioned the paintings both to celebrate the distinguished careers the four men led and to highlight the college’s long-standing commitment to inclusion and global engagement.
“Hope College was doing diversity and inclusion work in the third part of the 19th century, when people had no idea what the concepts even were,” he said.
“I also hope that the contributions of our early graduates will inspire our students to imagine the ways in which they, too, can serve the world,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales marvels at the spirit in which the first two, Oghimi and Kimura, were brought to Hope by the college’s first president, Philip Phelps, in 1871. Phelps met the two young men, who had made separate voyages to the U.S. and found themselves in New York without funds, plans or even fluency in English, during a fundraising tour of the East Coast.
“It’s amazing to realize how President Phelps invited these two students from Japan to join him at Hope College. And for the next six years these students lived with the Phelps family and through them learned about American education, culture and faith. There were no judgments made by Phelps, in terms of language, in terms of ethnicity, in terms of faith,” he said. “And the second part of the story is that these students went on to do great things.”
“What President Phelps did is precisely at the very core of who we are as an institution,” Gonzales said.
Motoichiro Oghimi and Kumaji Kimura returned to Japan and spread the ideas of Christianity in higher education and through support programs for women. In addition to serving as a pastor, teacher and school administrator, Oghimi authored the first Greek-Japanese lexicon. Kimura’s contributions included co-founding Meiji Gakuin University.
Ottipoby, a Comanche born in Lawton, Okla., graduated from Western Theological Seminary after completing his degree at Hope. He became a pastor in the Reformed Church in America, which is the college’s parent denomination, and during World War II was the first Native American chaplain to serve in the U.S. Army.
Dooley was a teacher and assistant principal in public schools in Louisiana and Alabama, as well as an assistant pastor and missionary with the 8th District Baptist Association. He inherited his passion for education from his father, James Dooley Sr., who in 1911 had founded the Southern Normal Industrial Institute in Brewton, Ala., for African-American children—who had no other educational options. The Reformed Church in America supported Southern Normal as a domestic mission for several decades.
The 9:30 a.m. seminar will share more about each of the four graduates. Gonzales will co-lead the session with Fumihito Andy Nakajima, who is an associate professor of Japanese; and John Yelding, who is an associate professor of education.
In addition to the events on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., activities scheduled in conjunction with the debut of the portraits include a dinner for members of the families of the four graduates and others familiar with them and their work.
Artist Paul Collins’s work in West Michigan includes the mural of the life of President Gerald Ford at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. He has had work displayed worldwide in venues such as the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Studio Museum of Harlem in New York. He is also the designer of the Martin Luther King Peace Prize Medal, the National Physical Fitness Poster for the Carter administration and the NASA space shuttle emblem.
The college’s Winter Happening event will feature a total of six seminars on a variety of topics in two blocks in the morning: three at 9:30 a.m. and three at 11 a.m. In addition to “Celebrating Hope College’s Early Graduates,” the 9:30 a.m. seminars include “Making Youth Sports Safer for the Mind, Body, and Spirit,” and “Preparation, Hard Work, and Luck: A Guide to the Development of a New Chemical Reaction. The 11 a.m. seminars are “A Good Fight: Loyalty and Conflict in the RCA,” “Electrical Stimulation and a Treatment Option for Phantom Limb Pain,” and “Making Democracy: Lessons from 19th Century London.” Advance registration is not required, but is recommended, and helpful for planning based on anticipated attendance. Reservations may be made and additional information obtained by calling the college’s office of public and community relations at (616) 395-7860 or online at hope.edu/pr/13WinterHappening.html
The Haworth Inn and Conference Center is located at 225 College Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets. The Martha Miller Center for Global Communication is located at 257 Columbia Ave., at the corner of Columbia Avenue and 10th Street.