April 2013

During the past few months, I have been disciplining myself to look for the Resurrection. As I arrived in California after what had already been a very long road trip, my discipline was faltering. I met with one of our donors and supporters who had just worshipped with the Calvin Women’s Chorale during their tour in southern California. His encounter with the chorale took place during a week of discouraging news, but he heard the word of the Lord in the music and finished worshipping with a sense of conviction and purpose that made a difference in the world last month (more about this later). Indeed, our students already act and serve as agents of renewal in this broken world, and I am honored to witness this work every day.


We’re supporting and awarding research and scholarship.

  • More than 100 people from around the world will attend the annual Henry Symposium on Religion and Politics, held April 25–27 at Calvin. Sponsored by the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, the symposium will feature entries (including the winners) for “Visualizing Public Life,” a data-visualization contest for Calvin students.
  • Professor of education John Walcott has just received the AILACTE Scholars Award from the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education. The award will fund Walcott as a researcher on the impact of teacher preparation at AILACTE institutions.
  • In an age when many wonder about the future of libraries, activity at the Hekman Library is at an all-time high. We would not enjoy a quality academic experience at Calvin without the support of the library faculty and staff. These are some of the ways that we used the library’s resources:
    • 130,000 books checked out
    • 200,000 visits to the library’s Web site
    • 300,000 journal articles downloaded
    • 600,000 searches performed in the library’s catalog and research databases
    • 10,000 research encounters with students in the library, in classrooms or via e-mail or chat

Student Life

Students are asking questions about faith and stepping into leadership.

  • Last fall, the college chaplains asked our LOFT community to finish this sentence: “What if it’s true that ... ?” Their responses were the foundation of the sermon series “What If It’s True?” which runs through spring semester and covers a wide range of questions Christians have about living out our discipleship. You can listen to the “What If It’s True?” series online.
  • Calvin College has been named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.


We’re celebrating spring both indoors and out-of-doors.

  • Plan to attend the eighth-annual Native Plant Sale held 10 a.m.–12 p.m., Saturday, May 4, at the Vincent and Helen Bunker Interpretive Center. On sale will be Wild Columbine, Joe Pye Weed, Purple Coneflowers, Black-Eyed Susan, native grasses and many other species grown by Ecosystem Preserve staff from seed collected all over Michigan.
  • The Calvin Theatre Company will perform its new play Grains of Hope: Refugee Experiences in West Michigan from April 11 through May 9, in various locations throughout Grand Rapids including the Calvin Lab Theater, the Church of the Servant, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The play is based on interviews with refugees who have fled their countries of origin and relocated to west Michigan.

Alumni and Parents

We’re staying connected.

  • Join 1,500 other participants in raising money for scholarships at the annual Calvin Spring Classic 5k Run and Walk, held Saturday, April 27, at the Hoogenboom Health and Recreation Center. This year’s event includes a corporate challenge, a school challenge and a Family Fun Run. Volunteers are needed for this event.
  • The Calvin Alumni Choir will perform their spring concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. They’ll also be performing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Grand Rapids Symphony and Chorus Friday and Saturday, May 10–11, at the DeVos Performance Hall.
  • During exam time, support your favorite student with a spring treat: a maroon and gold bag filled with healthy snacks. Orders are due by April 30 for delivery on May 6.


We’re welcoming prospective students to campus.

  • It’s the time of year when admitted students are deciding where they will enroll. Recently, I’ve been privileged to be part of a number of events, chatting with admitted students and their parents from Michigan to Illinois to California. Here’s a snapshot of those events:
    • Andrea and I opened DeWit Manor to admitted students from several west Michigan communities, connecting with more than 200 prospective freshmen and their parents over the course of a few evenings.
    • We also met with high school students who visited campus through new student opportunities—the Honors Fellows, the John Perkins Leadership Fellows and the Calvin College/University of Michigan Medical School Partnership.
    • We met both admitted and prospective students from Chicago last month at the Chicago History Museum and in a series of events in southern California.

I was delighted by the incredible caliber and character of these potential students, and I hope wholeheartedly that each one will choose Calvin. Being a Calvin ambassador isn’t just a job for the president. Please consider how you—by a word of encouragement or by hosting an event—can help to promote Calvin’s education of the heart and mind.


We’re partnering around the world.

  • This year’s Nagel Fellowship will fund international development studies professor Tracy Kuperus as she does fieldwork with the J. L. Zwane Memorial Centre in Gugulethu, South Africa. Kuperus will study how and when Christian community-serving ministries turn to advocacy for social reform. Nagel Fellowships are granted by the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity.


We’re grateful for the creative ways donors give back to Calvin.

  • Many English majors have benefitted from the support of the Henrietta Ten Harmsel English Scholarship, established in 2000 in honor of a Calvin English professor to encourage students who have an enthusiasm for reading and writing. After Henrietta passed away earlier this year, her estate gift significantly increased the impact her scholarship will make on English majors for years to come. Four additional scholarships will be awarded each year through this generous legacy.
  • Some alumni and friends support Calvin by remembering the college in their estate planning. The office of gift planning offers many ways that donors can get the maximum impact from their gifts to Calvin.
  • Only 17.7 percent of Calvin alumni have given back to the college this year. As a Calvin alum, you’re already doing big things in the world. Today, please take a moment to do something small, with far-reaching impact. Your gift will increase Calvin’s participation percentage, raising the bar for grant applications and the college’s ranking in U.S. News & World Report. If you can’t afford a large gift but want to make a difference in the lives of Calvin students, $5 is all it takes. Visit www.calvin.edu/go/five to make your gift today.


We’re celebrating our student athletes.

Calvin professor of music Pearl Shangkuan frequently tells the Women’s Chorale to be fully prepared and engaged for each performance since one can never be sure how God will move in and through the music.

The friend I referred to earlier had long been convicted of his need to meet the needs of starving North Koreans. Every spring, food stores from the previous harvest dwindle to nothing and people suffer from serious starvation and malnutrition, and each spring, my friend sends thousands of tons of food to North Korea to feed the people. He explains to his North Korean government contacts that he does this with no strings attached because his faith in Christ compels him to share what he has.

This spring, his contacts thanked him, but asked him not to send any more food for fear that it would cause divisions and conflict within the influenced province. My friend was burdened by this discouraging development when he went to a worship service at Tto Gam Sa Home Mission Church that featured the Calvin Women’s Chorale.

During the service, the chorale sang a Korean folk song entitled Arirang. The song speaks of suffering on a journey and a fear of abandonment. “If you go away without me, your feet will become so tired and painful that you will be unable to walk the distance required.” The chorale performs it beautifully, and my friend was so moved by its message, that he became determined not to abandon the North Korean people.

As the chorale was rehearsing and preparing this song over the past several months, they could never have known the large and small ways that God would use their music for good, but this performance clearly changed the plight of many starving North Koreans. That evening, my friend called his government contact again to press his case and significantly increase his donation of food aid. This official accepted his offer, and the food is now on its way!

There are signs of the Resurrection all around us. May you experience God’s grace in this Easter season.



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