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Administration Profile: Alfredo Gonzáles,
Associate Provost and Dean for
International and Multicultural Education

Alfredo Gonzáles is passionate about the importance of preparing students for lives in the diverse and increasingly interconnected world. Hope, he notes, is well equipped to provide such preparation.

“Hope in many ways is like a small university,” Gonzáles says. “We have a variety of programs that make us a unique place. A Hope education will allow a student to garner the necessary academic, intellectual, critical thinking skills that will provide a wonderful entry into a career or a graduate program. Students here go on to make a difference in the world.”

It’s a philosophy with a long history at Hope. The first international students enrolled in the 1870s from Japan and returned home “and created what is essentially the first Christian university in that part of the world,” he says. “Indian students who came here in the 1940s and ’50s went back to India and established medical schools and colleges named for this institution.” In the same way, students native to the U.S. have long gone to live abroad or pursue careers with an international emphasis in fields ranging from mission work, to medicine, to diplomacy, to business.

As the 21st century unfolds, Gonzáles believes, familiarity with other cultures will only become more important.

“Our world is shrinking,” he says, “and shrinking very rapidly. We need to know more about languages, political structures, how other countries work. We need to learn how events that happen in other countries affect the rest of the world.”

Gonzáles also believes that educating students for world citizenship requires knowledge not just of international affairs, but of people.

“We’re intricately connected to the rest of the world,” he says, “so of course, learning about political and economic structures is important. But more importantly, we must learn about people. As Christians, it is our responsibility to understand differences across race, ethnicity, gender, and religion. We must be able to interact with the world. Hope is enthusiastic about engaging with the international community, and that enthusiasm is something we try to convey to our students.”

Hope students, he finds, are ready for the challenge, engaged by the world around them and ready to be a part of it.

“Hope College students tend to care very deeply about the issues of our time,” says Gonzáles. “But in addition to their compassion, they are also students who are seeking information and knowledge from our courses and faculty. I am proud to say that we have outstanding students who have chosen Hope because they know that a Hope College education is going to serve them well.”

This profile was written by Megan E. Dougherty, a 2007 Hope College graduate from Normal, Ill., for the 2007-08 Hope College Catalog.

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