The college is celebrating its sesquicentennial across 2015–16, a birthday party that will begin in earnest with the arrival of two major presents.

Hope will even be opening them a little early. The Kruizenga Art Museum and the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts will be highlighted through public events in September and October respectively, but they’ll be going to work with the start of the school year later this month.

As with the best gifts, they fit the occasion perfectly, at once a celebration of the past and well suited to the future. In that way, they epitomize an added meaning in the anniversary milestone, reflecting the strength and growth of the preceding 150 years and ready to serve students for decades to come.

Just like the college.

Visit the sesquicentennial home page“Hope has a tremendous history and a bright future,” said President John C. Knapp. “We’re looking forward to engaging the entire Hope family in celebrating both across the next year.”

“Certainly we’ll be looking back at the past one-and-a-half centuries, and reflecting on the difference that Hope has already made in thousands of lives,” he said. “But we’re no less excited about what the years ahead will bring. At a time when many colleges and universities are struggling, Hope is in an enviable position. Our programs are strong, demand for a Hope education has never been higher, and the college’s new strategic plan will guide us in building on that firm foundation across the next decade to offer an even more outstanding experience.”

The building-focused celebrations will be just two of the many events planned in conjunction with the college’s sesquicentennial across 2015–16. The year-long commemoration, which started with Hope’s 150th Commencement on Sunday, May 3, and a picnic for faculty and staff on Wednesday, July 29, will lead up to the 150th anniversary of the college’s formal chartering by the State of Michigan on May 14, 1866. 

The featured events will begin with the groundbreaking for the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center on Monday, August 31, near Nykerk Hall of Music, the location the new building will occupy. They will continue within the week, on Saturday, September 5, with the 50th Hope-Holland Community Day, which will include a picnic at Windmill Island Gardens and home football and men’s soccer competition. The Kruizenga Art Museum will feature its debut exhibition, “Past Present East West: Highlights from the Permanent Collection,” beginning on Wednesday, September 9, with an opening event on Friday, September 11, in partnership with the opening for the exhibition “Dusk to Dusk: Unsettled, Unraveled, Unreal” in the De Pree Art Center and Gallery.

The Presidential Colloquium lecture series will open for the school year on Wednesday, September 30, with an address by David Brooks, who is a New York Times writer and author or editor of five books, including The Road to Character, published earlier this year.

The college’s Homecoming Weekend, running Friday–Sunday, October 23–25, will feature the sesquicentennial theme throughout. Highlights will include an arts and humanities symposium on Friday, October 23, at the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, which will also be celebrated through an open house on Saturday, October 24.

The sesquicentennial theme will continue with the college’s Family Weekend, which will take place on Friday–Saturday, October 31–November 1, and conclude, as always, with the freshman-sophomore Nykerk Cup competition.

Spring-semester events are still being finalized, but will include the opening performances in the main concert hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts on Friday and Saturday, February 5 and 6; the Presidential Colloquium in March; commemoration of the 150th day of classes in the mid-spring semester (date flexible until the potential for snow days has passed); Alumni Weekend on Friday–Saturday, April 29–30; and the college’s 151st Commencement on Sunday, May 8.    

While the events will provide multiple opportunities to celebrate the college’s anniversary year, two books that will provide lasting chronicles of the Hope story are also being developed.

A comprehensive history of the college is in the works, the first since A Century of Hope by former president Wynand Wichers (Class of 1909) was published following Hope’s centennial. The new volume is being co-authored by Dr. Jacob Nyenhuis, who is provost emeritus and professor emeritus of classics and director of the A.C. Van Raalte Institute, and Dr. James Kennedy, a former Hope history faculty member now with the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, with contributions by many others.

A history of Hope athletics from 1970 through the spring of 2015 is being written by Tom Renner ’67, who retired in 2013 as associate vice president for public and community relations and served for decades as sports information director at Hope. The new volume will carry forward the story begun in two books by Gord Brewer ’48, professor emeritus of kinesiology: “…But How You Played the Game!” A History of Intercollegiate Athletics at Hope College 1862–1955 (published in 1992) and Journey of Hope: Names and Games Remembered, Hope College Athletics — 1955–1970 (published in 2002).

It happens to be a big year for Hope milestones and anniversaries in general. Community Day’s forthcoming 50th installment tracks from the event’s debut during the college’s centennial celebration in October 1966. The arch that tops the pillars in front of Graves Hall was installed 75 years ago, in May 1940, and the landmark anchor on the lawn in front of Graves was dedicated during Homecoming in October 1965, a half century past. Christmas Vespers, which coincidentally premiered on Pearl Harbor Day, Sunday, December 7, 1941, will take place for the 75th time on Saturday and Sunday, December 5–6. As noted later in this issue, the Washington Honors Semester program marked its 40th anniversary this past spring. This year marks 50 years of partnership with Meiji Gakuin University of Japan, with commemoration events in Tokyo this past May and another celebration scheduled to take place this fall. This coming summer will be the 60th anniversary of the Vienna Summer School.