JEVON WILLIS NAMED DIRECTOR OF CDI
Jevon Willis has been named director of the college’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, selected following a national search for the position that he had held on an interim basis for the past year.
Willis joined the Hope staff as CDI’s assistant director in 2018 having had several years’ experience teaching and developing programs and events in higher education and with non-profit organizations.
“Our search drew excellent applicants from across the country, and confirmed that we already had the best candidate on our staff,” said Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, who is vice president for culture and excellence and a member of the psychology faculty. “Jevon came to Hope three years ago with outstanding experience as an educator and administrator and a heart for students, and in his time with us has provided exceptional, caring leadership in helping the college to live more fully into its vision of being a place in which every member of the community is — and feels — equally valued and respected.”
Willis succeeds Vanessa Greene, who left the college in November 2020 to become chief executive officer of the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute (GRAAHI) after serving as CDI’s director, and later also as an associate dean, since 2003.
NAMED AN “UP AND COMER”
Dr. Brooke Odle, assistant professor of engineering, has received an “Up and Comer” Award from the American Society of Biomechanics (ASB).
The award is intended to foster mentoring and networking of early-career faculty and post-doctoral trainees with ASB Fellows of similar research interests. The one-year award includes travel funds to meet with a mentor who is an ASB Fellow and develop a plan to move the award recipient’s research agenda forward, as well as free registration to the society’s Aug. 10-13 Virtual 45th Annual Meeting.
Odle, who is a biomedical engineer, joined the Hope faculty in 2020 after a year at the college as a faculty fellow. Her research focuses on biomechanics and assistive technology for people with disabilities.
Hope continues to earn recognition in multiple college guides.
The accolades include being named 24th in the country — out of the nation’s hundreds of colleges and universities — in the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges guide for providing outstanding undergraduate research/creative project opportunities. Hope is among universities like Yale, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Princeton and the University of Michigan. The guide also includes Hope on several other lists, among them Best Undergraduate Teaching (48), undergraduate engineering (75) and Best Value Schools (97), in addition to ranking the college 111th among the nation’s top 223 liberal arts colleges.
Niche.com has named Hope Michigan’s Best Liberal Arts College, Best Christian College, Top Private College and Best Small College; Princeton Review includes Hope among the Best in the Midwest; and Washington Monthly ranks Hope 55th out of only 215 best liberal arts colleges based on contributions to social mobility, research and providing opportunities for public service. Hope is again included as one of the nation’s “best and most interesting” schools in the Fiske Guide to Colleges, which quotes a student as noting: “Hope is a place where students are challenged to become better students… but, more important, better people.”
STUDENT PARTICIPATES IN INTERNATIONAL FORUM
Senior Mary Kamara-Hagemeyer of Holland, Michigan, was among a select number of students who attended this year’s Athens Democracy Forum, an international event whose participants included multiple current and former senior government officials from around the world, NGO (non-governmental organization) and business executives, and leading journalists with the New York Times.
The forum ran Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, in Athens, Greece. Kamara-Hagemeyer was one of 24 students from more than a dozen countries chosen to participate through the Global Liberal Arts Alliance, which is an educational partner in the event with Deree-The American College of Greece. The forum is organized by the Democracy and Culture Foundation in association with the New York Times, and this year focused on the theme “Resilience and Renewal.”
NEW PRACTICE ORGAN THE FIRST OF ITS KIND
The new practice organ installed at Hope this fall is the first of its kind. One of six organs at the college and one of two intended specifically for practice, it can be two different kinds of organs.
It was crafted for the college by Casavant Frères (Casavant Brothers) of Saint-Hyacinthe in Quebec, Canada, and is located in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. It came onto Hope’s radar through conversation in 2015, when Casavant Frères was installing the organ they’d custom-built for the center’s Concert Hall.
“They had designed a prototype practice instrument, which this is, in which you can vary the weight of the keys,” said Dr. Huw Lewis, who is a professor of music and chair of the department. “So the instrument, which is small, can feel like you’re playing a small instrument or the mechanism can be adjusted so that it feels as if you’re playing a much larger instrument.”
The new organ was contributed by Dr. David Van Dyke ’60 in memory of his wife, Janet Koopman ’62 Van Dyke. Janet, who died on Dec. 23, 2020, was an accomplished organist herself, and had served in that role at Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church and many other churches.
Hope’s enrollment has increased for the second year in a row.
The college enrolled 3,133 students this fall, surpassing last year’s headcount of 3,060 and the Fall 2019 total of 3,057. The total includes 848 students in college for the first time, tied for the second-highest number in the college’s history (there were also 848 in the fall of 2011, and 904 in the fall of 2012). Hope’s students hail from 42 states and territories, and 28 nations.
The Hope-Western Prison Education Program operated by the college and Western Theological Seminary to provide a Christian liberal arts education to incarcerated men at Muskegon Correctional Facility has received approval from the Higher Learning Commission.
The commission, which is Hope’s accreditor, has provided formal approval of MCF as an “additional location” to the Hope campus and to include incarcerated students among the student body. Participants can now pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hope while taking classes at the prison.
The program, featured in the Summer 2021 issue of News from Hope College, began as a pilot in 2019. The first 20 students started distance education coursework for credit this fall.
Fall Sports Report
An eighth-place at the NCAA Division III Womenʼs Cross Country National championships and MIAA regular-season titles in womenʼs golf, volleyball, football and womenʼs cross country were among the fall highlights for Hope Athletics. Led by All-American Ana Tucker, the Flying Dutch posted their second-highest cross country finish at nationals. in volleyball, All-Americans Tracy Westra and McKenna Otto also led the Flying Dutch to the NCAA regional finals. Westra and womenʼs golfer Grace VanDellen earned MIAA MVP honors. The womenʼs soccer team won the MIAA Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Division III Championships. The football team earned a share of the league title and finished 8-2.