October 2012

We are off and running now! We have moved through the zaniness of Chaos Day and other opening events and have settled into the rhythm of academic life. The air chills us now in the evening and the morning as the fall colors emerge to paint the campus in crimson and gold.

Calvin College is a beautiful place this time of year, and our lovely fall weather focuses mind and heart on our academic vocation. As we prepare students to engage in the project of renewing all things in the name of Christ, I am inspired by the commitment of our faculty.

This month, I begin making the rounds of academic departments across campus. This will take some time, but it’s worth it for me to learn names and faces, and to appreciate the good work of our faculty as they serve students and advance learning.


Our faculty members continue to enrich the community with their teaching, research, scholarship and academic honors.

  • Recently, art professor Jo-Ann Van Reeuwyk was honored as the 2013 Higher Ed Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Art Education Association (MAEA). The award, bestowed by her MAEA peers, recognizes Van Reeuwyk’s work—as an artist, teacher, scholar and leader—to develop Calvin’s art education program.
  • Students in a new English class, “Writing in Digital Environments,” are gaining the tools they need to work as communicators in the 21st century. The students are learning how to blog effectively, combine media online and create digital portfolios of their work to show to prospective employers.
  • Computer science professor Joel Adams has earned a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant in partnership with colleagues from Macalester and St. Olaf colleges. The team is creating pedagogical modules for teaching parallel computing (supercomputing).

Alumni and Parents

This October, we welcome our alumni to campus for Homecoming, reunions and inaugural festivities.

  • Campus will be filled with alumni and families during Homecoming and Family Weekend, held Oct. 19–21. Highlights include the Family Weekend Tailgate Dinner, improv performances, an ice cream social, reunions for the Classes of 1967, 1972, 1987 and 2002, a Sunday morning LOFT worship service and the Inauguration Ceremony.
  • This election season has me reflecting on civility and our political discourse. A group of five alumni and five faculty representing a range of disciplines met several times throughout 2011–2012 to discuss this topic, a project titled “Perspectives on Civility.” Their reflections, including a “Ten Commandments for Civil Political Engagement,” are available online. The project was co-sponsored by the Calvin Alumni Association and the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship.
  • The alumni association and career development offices are partnering on a job fair for students and young alumni from 10 a.m.–noon on Oct. 24 at the University Club in downtown Chicago. Participants will meet with companies such as Darwill, Stout Risius Ross, Motorola Solutions, Deloitte, FIS, The Private Bank and others to explore internship and full-time job opportunities. Students will also meet with local alumni for dinner that evening.


As fall reaches its zenith, the Calvin community is getting ready for major events both on and off campus.

  • From Oct. 13–Oct. 21, the Calvin community will celebrate Inauguration Week with a series of events: worship services, a student music showcase, academic symposia, an academic poster fair, a music festival, a gala, an art exhibition and the Inauguration Ceremony itself, held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 20 in the college’s Van Noord Arena.
  • During the inaugural festivities, Calvin will host “90 Years of Collecting” at the Center Art Gallery. The exhibition, running Sept. 4–Oct. 20, includes more than 50 pieces from Calvin’s permanent collection, created by artists such as Alexander Calder, Rembrandt van Rijn, Mathias Alten, Robert Bosscher and James Karsina.
  • From Oct. 8–13, Calvin’s service-learning center will bring ACCESS of West Michigan’s annual County-Wide Food Drive to campus. Donation boxes and shopping carts will be placed in residence halls and in major campus venues. Calvin students, faculty and staff are encouraged to fill them with canned and dry goods and personal care products such as deodorant, toothpaste and diapers.

Student Life

Some of student life’s best traditions are traditions of worship.

  • The incoming class of first-year students is passionate about its faith, judging by the high attendance at Chapel and Sunday evening Living Our Faith Together (LOFT) services. The first LOFT of the year drew nearly 700 students, and the Friday morning Songfest is currently standing-room-only. You can join us online for Chapel services at 10 a.m. every weekday and LOFT at 8 p.m. on Sunday.
  • Students, faculty and staff are gathering weekly to study the Sermon on the Mount in this year’s edition of the all-campus Bible study. There are 80 individual Sermon on the Mount study groups—some general interest and some affinity groups. I have thoroughly enjoyed this study with the group of 12 students who gather in our home every Thursday night! (Sermon on the Mount study guides are available free from the office of campus ministries.)


Calvin’s enrollment has enjoyed a boost. The college’s 2012 entering class totals 1,085 students (977 first-year students and 108 transfers). It is Calvin’s largest incoming class since 2007.

  • Calvin’s enrollment reflects an increase in international diversity and global presence. The college’s first-year class includes 110 students from 17 countries. Calvin’s general student body includes more than 4,000 students hailing from 55 countries, 46 U.S. states and six Canadian provinces.
  • Calvin is also increasingly attracting students from a wide variety of Christian backgrounds. Nearly 30 different denominations are represented in the 2012–2013 first-year class, and the enrollment of public high school students seeking a Christian college education at Calvin has increased six percent from last year.
  • October marks the time when applications for next year really gain momentum, and you can help us out by encouraging a current high school student to apply to Calvin College. We encourage students, faculty, staff and alumni to recruit one student for Calvin through RecommendONE. To spark your recruit’s interest in Calvin, arrange a campus visit, invite your student to a Calvin game and encourage her or him to apply to Calvin for free by December.


Thanks to everyone who, through a donation to the Calvin Annual Fund or through a named scholarship, continues to keep a Calvin education affordable for our students.

  • Gifts to the Calvin Annual Fund help keep tuition down for our more than 4,000 students, allowing them to take advantage of the full Calvin experience: the rigorous learning, rewarding extracurricular activities and deep faith formation. A Calvin student may be reaching out to you by phone in the next few weeks. Please take the time to talk with him or her about the value of their Calvin experience.
  • So far during the 2012–2013 academic year, Calvin has awarded 1,479 named scholarships, totaling $3.3 million. Through your support, we hope to someday be able to provide a named scholarship for each Calvin student. If you are interested in supporting a student through a scholarship in your name or in the name of a loved one, please contact the Calvin development office at 616-526-6097.
  • Did you know that many major foundations and donors view our alumni giving rate as an indicator of institutional excellence? Even a gift of $10 per month helps support our students and signals your support of Calvin.


Off-campus study is a major part of a Calvin education, and the college continues to build connections around the globe.

  • This fall, Calvin sent students on semesters in China, Ghana, Honduras, Hungary and Peru. The college also hosts semester programs in Washington D.C., Britain, France, New Mexico and The Netherlands as well as January interim classes in seven U.S. states and 26 countries.
  • This is the second year of a partnership between Calvin College and NLA University College, a private, Christian institution in Bergen, Norway. The college is hosting five NLA students, all majors in Christian Studies and Sports. While at Calvin, they will be taking classes in the kinesiology department, enjoying campus life and experiencing U.S. culture.


The Knights are off to a running start. As of this writing, many of Calvin’s athletic teams are doing well:

  • Calvin men’s and women’s cross country teams are both ranked in the top 10 nationally. They opened up their seasons by winning their own Knight Invitational at the Gainey Athletic Complex and dominating the MIAA Jamboree on Sept. 21.
  • Women’s volleyball retained their number two national ranking with a home victory over Hope College in four sets. It looks like the Knights are on another great trajectory with an overall record of 14–1 and a 7–0 conference record.
  • Calvin is making a strong showing in the MIAA standings this year: Men’s golf is in sole possession of first place; women’s golf holds fourth place; the men’s and women’s cross country teams are both sitting atop the league standings; men’s soccer is in second place with a record of 5–2 in league play, and the women’s soccer team is tied for second place with a record of 5–1 in league play.

Calvin College’s academic excellence and spiritual vitality stand on the shoulders of many giants who have served here in years past. In September, we learned of the passing of one of these servants. Rev. Bernard Pekelder, affectionately known as “Pek,” served as Calvin’s first chaplain from 1962–1985 and influenced thousands of lives.

He devoted his excellent preaching and pastoral work to the service of students. His Chapel meditations about the mythical Calvin student, “Fog” (Feet on the Ground), live on in the memories of the Calvin faculty, staff and students whom he served as a spiritual mentor and guide for over two decades.

Pek joins the great “cloud of witnesses” referenced in Hebrews 12:1, who bear witness to God’s great work for the Kingdom at Calvin College. The memory of his life lived in service encourages us to throw off the “sin that so easily entangles” and “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”



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