From the Goucher Quarterly, Summer/Fall 2010

It's been a lot of fun, but we've now reached the end of our extended celebration of what word purists would call Goucher's quasquicentennial. We've reminisced and recounted the college's history, bragged and boasted a bit, and rallied the troops around the country. We've also fed quite a few people assorted variations on Hutzler's old Goucher birthday cake. My favorite moments have come at events that combined 125th anniversary parties with receptions for admitted applicants or incoming-student "send-off" receptions, along the way creating intriguing and eclectic glimpses of the college's present, past, and future. Our final party in late June may well have been the apogee: At t'afia, the environmentally conscious Houston restaurant owned and run by chef Monica Pope '85, we assembled a group spanning 77 years, from an alumna in the Class of 1938 to a prospective applicant for the Class of 2015. 

I had a unique opportunity, just a few weeks earlier, to celebrate on the other side of the world. As most members of the extended Goucher family know, John Franklin Goucher was instrumental in establishing and helping fund, with support  from his wife, Mary Fisher Goucher, schools at various levels in Asia-in Japan, China, Korea, and India. Pai Chai (pronounced "pay jay"), one of the fi rst Korean schools to benefi t from the Gouchers' generosity, has grown to become Pai Chai University. It, too, was celebrating its 125th anniversary, and the organizers of the festivities invited me, along with Marilyn Southard Warshawsky '68, former Goucher board chair and the ultimate college historian, to participate in the program and a related conference in Daejeon, about an hour south of Seoul by express train. Michiko Mitarai '66, a Goucher trustee from Tokyo, also attended the events.

Marilyn and I gave a joint presentation on Dr. Goucher's remarkable international involvements. Marilyn also offered sermons that artfully weaved Bible verses into the chronology, and I had an opportunity to draw the link between our namesake's extraordinary career and Goucher College's current intense focus on the global dimension of a liberal arts education. 

How the Methodists became involved in Korea makes a very good yarn: By chance, while traveling across the United States by train in September 1883, Dr. Goucher encountered a group of envoys from Korea who had been sent by King Kojong to meet with President Chester A. Arthur; they were seeking to learn about American schools, post offices, and military installations. In an important precedent for the future, Dr. Goucher seemed to learn as much as he taught during that railroad encounter. He was apparently impressed by what he heard about this culture previously little known in America, and within a matter of months, he was urging the Methodist Missionary Society in New York to begin work in Korea-and offering to pay part of the costs for doing so.    

Missionary work, of course, led inevitably-and directly-to education and a focus on its importance in strengthening family, church, and civil society. Just as Dr. Goucher played a central role in the establishment in Baltimore of a college for African Americans and another for women-now Morgan State University and Goucher College, respectively-he promoted the creation of educational institutions in Asia that would broaden access to learning beyond the traditional elite.  In the early 1880s, he met the Rev. Henry Appenzeller, who would become the first Methodist missionary to Korea, and there is evidence that the pair kept in touch after Appenzeller launched the Methodist presence and opened Pai Chai in 1885. We can only imagine that Dr. Goucher pressed his strong feeling that education must be egalitarian, erasing barriers of gender, race, caste, and religion. 

Rev. Appenzeller, until his tragic death at sea in 1902, was a key player in the development of Pai Chai and other Methodist institutions in Korea, and the commemorative events in Daejeon were held in a magnificent new chapel and meeting hall built into a hillside and named for him. But the image of Dr. Goucher accompanied us, literally and figuratively, during these celebrations and at a gala orchestral and choral concert held in Seoul two nights earlier. I had the feeling at times that we were treated as significant guests-and given an embarrassingly effusive welcome-in part because we were from a place that had actually dared to name itself for the great man. (On previous visits to Aoyama Gakuin, a 20,000- student, pre-K-through-grad-school institution in Tokyo that also traces its origins to the generosity of the Gouchers, I had sensed a slight amusement that our college had appropriated the name.) 

This seemingly anomalous circumstance of our college's name-in  truth, as many know, a renaming 100 years ago of the Woman's College of Baltimore for its benefactor and second president and his wife-leads to interesting conversations in Asia. Some of the Chinese delegates to these festivities, in particular, assumed it meant that Goucher College had hewed especially closely to its origins as a Methodist institution. One minister from Beijing was stunned to learn that we do not still have a required chapel service at least once a day. Indeed, the secular direction that much of American higher education has taken was a whole other area ripe for cross-cultural communication on this occasion. The question of whether Goucher and other Methodist institutions in the United States and around the world were intended primarily to promote education through religion, or religion through education, is a rich one worthy of future study. 

Meanwhile, as we begin our 126th year, we'll fi nd new things to celebrate and ponder at Goucher College.