August 2012

Warm summer greetings to all of you. I arrived in Grand Rapids with a heat wave that sought to wilt west Michigan with temperatures in the 100s. This particular warm greeting began on Monday morning as I left the house for the office and was greeted immediately by the student painters—Anna Meekhof, Rachel Hordyk and Sara Bruggink—who were hard at work painting the house and getting it ready for the family. Monday ended with an ice cream social, where hundreds of faculty and staff offered greetings and welcome.

As the week unfolded, I was grateful to see that, at Calvin, a robust welcome isn't reserved exclusively for the new president. That same week, the first group of incoming students arrived on campus for the Passport Orientation program and were greeted by student leaders, staff and faculty. But the arrival of my family and students aren't the only things happening on 'this square inch' of human existence we call Calvin College. Friends and alums of Calvin College will recognize this reference to Abraham Kuyper's famous quotation that

"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, 'Mine!"

At Calvin College, we understand the essence of our mission and work to be captured in this quotation. And it is important to me that parents, alumni, supporters and friends of the college are well informed about what happens here. For this reason, I will be sending you an update on campus news about 10 times per year. There is so much to appreciate at Calvin!


Summer is the season for prestigious academic recognitions and awards. After spending even a little time with Calvin faculty, I appreciate their passion for student learning. It is a delight to know that excellence in teaching and learning is complemented by strong scholarly achievement as well.

  • One example of this is the $1.7 million grant emeritus mathematics professor Jim Bradley was given by the John Templeton Foundation to research how randomness in the universe meshes with divine providence—a hot topic for scientists, philosophers and people of faith.
  • Also, we are celebrating a record number of Fulbright scholars this year. In 2012–13, one faculty member and three students—all now grads—earned Fulbright grants, sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Institute for International Education:
    • Calvin history professor Young Kim will spend the 2012–13 academic year studying the fourth-century bishop and “heresiologist” Epiphanius in Nicosia, Cyprus.
    • 2012 grad Ryan DeVries, who majored in political science at Calvin, will spend the upcoming year teaching English in an ESL classroom in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
    • 2012 grad Emily Pope—who majored in philosophy, environmental studies and international development—will teach English in Turkey.
    • And 2012 grad Lauren Manck, a former Goldwater Scholar and current NSF Fellow, will research seagrasses in Cadiz, Spain.
    • Asian language professors Larry and Qin Herzberg have combined more than 500 Chinese proverbs with insights into Chinese culture in their new book Chinese Proverbs and Popular Sayings. The book explores a fund of traditional wisdom that dates back 2,500 years.
    • And, recently, Calvin’s Heritage Hall, home to the Calvin archives, has been expanded and transformed. The re-envisioned Heritage Hall boasts expanded storage space, updated environmental controls, a state-of-the-art rare book room and a new reading room that opens into the main library.


We are also celebrating Calvin’s good work in the community, both on and beyond the campus:

  • Recently, the college was encouraged in its long and collaborative effort to restore the Plaster Creek watershed. Calvin received a $375,662 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to continue mitigating storm runoff in the stream and educating Plaster Creek residents about the watershed—a project done in partnership with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, the Kent Conservation District, the Kent County Drain Commission, the Center for Environmental Study and the City of Grand Rapids.
  • Also, mathematics professor Jan Koop was recently awarded her fourth Teacher Quality Grant from the Michigan Department of Education. Koop will use the $200,000 grant to train teachers at William C. Abney Academy in Grand Rapids in understanding math concepts and teaching them well.

Student Life

At this time of year, we’re especially thankful to the staff of the student life division, who lead us in the task of welcoming students to Calvin:

  • From July 2 through 3, Calvin’s Orientation staff hosted 178 students and 269 parents for the first of five Passport Sessions. Passport, a day-and-a-half of creative activities and orientation information, equips first-year students for success.

Alumni and Parents

The staff of the alumni association are busy planning their fall events:

  • Homecoming and Family Weekend will be held October 19–21 at Calvin. This year’s Homecoming will celebrate milestone reunions, improv shows, athletic events, the Calvin Music Festival, star-gazing at the Calvin Observatory and a special Sunday morning LOFT worship service.
  • You can join alumni from around the world in StreetFest International 2012, a day of “serving to learn and learning to serve.” The Calvin Alumni Association is encouraging alumni networks from Orange City, Iowa, to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to pick one day in September to volunteer in their communities
  • Now you can receive your favorite Calvin social media feeds through Calvin’s new phone app. (Get “Calvin College Crib Sheet” for the iPhone or iPod, iPad, Android, or Blackberry)


Our overall student enrollment looks good as we anticipate first-year and transfer arrivals this fall. Deposits are up from last year. Our admissions team now turns its attention to the recruitment of the class of 2017. You can help us to identify great students by entering their contact information at our Recommend website.

  • Our Entrada Scholars Program and Summer Academy, both efforts to recruit high-achieving students from underrepresented populations, had healthy enrollments this summer:
    • From June 17 through July 13, Calvin hosted 71 students from 23 states, plus China and South Korea, for the 21st edition of the Entrada Scholars Program. Entrada—Spanish for “gateway”—brings exceptional ethnic minority high school students to Calvin for a three-week summer immersion course. Of the students who have completed Entrada since 1991, roughly half have returned to Calvin for their college careers.
    • Calvin also welcomed 21 students from seven U.S. states and four other countries for the fourth edition of the Summer Academy. Modeled on Entrada, Summer Academy provides exceptional ethnic minority and international high school students with their own college immersion experience.


At the close of the academic year, we also witnessed the triumphs of many Knights.

  • Seven Calvin athletes received Division III Academic All-America honors in 2011–12: Senior Miles Colago (soccer), junior Lizzie Kamp (volleyball), senior Rebecca Kamp (volleyball), senior Dan Kerr (track/cross country), sophomore Nicole Michmerhuizen (track/cross country), junior Carissa Verkaik (basketball) and junior Greg Whittle (track/cross country). Calvin is ranked in the top 10 among Division III institutions for all-time Academic All-Americans.
  • Calvin student assistant Mitch Blankespoor received the MIAA’s 2012 Tom Renner Student Associate Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts by student assistants in sports information offices at MIAA schools. Blankespoor is Calvin’s fourth consecutive winner of the award.
  • Calvin senior Rebecca Kamp received the MIAA’s Sheila Wallace Kovalchik Scholar-Athlete Award. The award honors the top senior female student-athlete in the MIAA.
  • Calvin finished 24th in the final Learfield Director’s Cup Division III Top 25 standings. Calvin is one of only six Division III schools to finish in the top 25 since the competition began in 1997.


We are grateful to the people who keep tuition affordable through their financial gifts and who serve as ambassadors for the college all around the globe. The accounting is just wrapping up, but the Calvin Annual Fund raised approximately $3 million in support during the fiscal year that ended on June 30. Thank you!

  • Also, the Office of Grants and Scholarships raised more than $4 million in named scholarships. (Forty-two new scholarships were established in 2011–12.)
  • And this past year, 1948 grad and geologist Bruce Dice donated his collection of 300-plus rare and beautiful minerals to Calvin. The college is building the Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum—adjacent to the geology, geography and environmental studies department—to house the collection.

On my first Monday at Calvin, I couldn't find any of my socks, and I couldn't remember where I had put my toothbrush. In the midst of change, even the most routine tasks can become a big deal. I guarantee that no one wanted to see me on Monday without socks or brushed teeth. Change and transition are hard. As I spoke with our new prospective students this week, I recognized their anxiety. When Jesus sent out his disciples, He knew they were anxious too, so He reminded them of the divine gift of hospitality that awaited them in their new places of ministry and calling.

"Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."

So the welcome the new students and I have received this summer is no small thing, but a part of the divine witness to the love of Jesus Christ. As the days wore on this week, it became clear that hospitality was doing its work. One student told me she had arrived quite worried, but that she was now prepared "to just get on with it already." My sentiments exactly.



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