December 2013

As I write this I am returning home from a very stimulating visit to South Korea. The visits came as a result of an invitation from several Christian universities in Korea that have enjoyed long and fruitful collaboration with Calvin College. Dr. Won Lee, professor of religion, served as my guide and translator as we worked together to give seven public talks over four days.

In addition to meeting several parents, we had a special treat at the front end of our visit: a gathering of about 20 Calvin alumni in Seoul who have organized as the Calvin College Korean Alumni Association. The alumni, all under the age of 35, are so accomplished and have great clarity on the value of a Calvin education rooted in Reformed Christian faith. Their enthusiasm and commitment were infectious!


Students this month faced final exams, papers, projects and more. Professors had equally daunting deadlines. Please continue to keep our students and faculty in your prayers as the semester concludes.

  • Chemistry professors Roger DeKock and Doug Vander Griend and 2013 graduate Jonathon Vandezande (a double major in math and chemistry now pursuing a PhD in computational and quantum chemistry at the University of Georgia) published “Reaction Extrema” in the Journal of Chemical Education, including a description of their computer application, “Reaction Progress.” This can be found on the department home page and was used by more than 300 Calvin students in intro chemistry courses this fall.
  • The Religious Communication Association, an academic society founded to study all aspects of public religious communication, named communication arts and science professor William Romanowski’s Reforming Hollywood: How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies its Book of the Year.
  • Nursing professor Renae Boss Potts recently taught “Nursing Care of a Patient with Spinal Cord Injury” for the nurses and therapists at Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health’s new rehabilitation unit.
  • Psychology professor Emily Helder is working on two manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals based on her research with internationally adopted children. She also was a recipient of our 2013 Faculty Lectureship Award in recognition of her scholarly achievements and professional contributions. Her lecture was on “Outcomes in International Adoption.”

Student Life

At Calvin our care for students extends beyond the classroom.

  • At the end of November each residence hall hosted a “Service Auction.” Students offered cleaning services, home-cooked meals, guitar lessons, fashion advice, bedtime stories, serenades and more, and raised thousands of dollars for local community partners.
  • Our Career Development office has been tracking the Class of 2012 as its members start their post-Calvin careers. The full report (PDF) is fascinating, but a few highlights include:
    • 82% reported having at least one internship/practicum while at Calvin
    • 69.7% are professionally employed while 26.2% are in graduate school
    • 53.3% reported residing in Michigan
  • Our Community Care Fund aids students undergoing a medical crisis or another sort of crisis. Over the past year, the fund has paid for plane tickets for bereaved students, for emergency surgeries and dental work, and for many other needs.

Alumni and parents

Get plugged into the Calvin network, maintain bonds forged on campus and lend a hand to the next generation!

  • The alumni association offers a variety of scholarships to prospective students, including Legacy Scholarships to children of alumni. See if there is a scholarship available for a student you know.
  • This is the time of year to nominate a former faculty member for the Faith and Learning Award, which honors Calvin professors who have made a lifelong impact on students. Anyone can nominate a professor online.


A Calvin education is lifelong preparation for global citizenship.

  • Twenty-four students have concluded a semester that saw them studying French language, history and culture at the Université Stendhal in Grenoble, France. On weekends they hiked in the Alps, worshipped at Taizé and visited Paris. They also learned intercultural relations at home with French host families and in classes with students from around the world.
  • Calvin graduate Bradley Miller, class of ’86, and a contingent of Christians in Hong Kong invited a team from Calvin to visit in November to discuss Christ-centered higher education in that part of Asia. There was fruitful dialogue and a spirited alumni gathering at the Union Church in Hong Kong.


Please remind all prospective students that we accept applications to Calvin on a rolling basis throughout the year. Students can apply online, by paper application or by using the Common Application. All completed applications receive equal consideration. We invite all prospective students interested in an education that will challenge the mind and deepen faith in Christ to apply!

  • When high school students who enrolled at Calvin this fall were asked how they first heard about Calvin, almost half (44.3%) said: “Relatives (not including parents or siblings) or friends.” When they were asked what tipped them towards Calvin, again almost half (49.9%) said: “Recommended by relatives or friends.” We know that alumni and friends are among the most important voices we have for getting out the word about Calvin College! Please join us now in recruiting next year’s class (and beyond). Join our ReCommend ONE campaign today and we’ll send you a great Calvin t-shirt.
  • What are concrete ways you can encourage prospective Calvin students? Encourage them to apply (and visit!) soon. Send them a link to something that interests them, such as student blogs, sports scores or student clubs. A single conversation can make a big difference. Thank you for your support.
  • At the December 2 deadline for “no fee” applications, we were approaching 2,500 applicants for our fall 2014 entering class. This number is very close to last year’s record pace, and we are running slightly ahead of last year in the number of students who have completed the admissions process and have been admitted. Please keep our enrollment efforts in your prayers.


As the calendar year nears its conclusion, we remain grateful for the many ways in which our stakeholders support Calvin College. We pledge to be good stewards of the resources you entrust to us.

  • At the beginning of this month the President’s cabinet released its recommendations to balance Calvin’s budget and put the college on a firm financial footing for generations to come. The recommendations are based on five strategies: 1) fundraising for principal reduction; 2) refinancing existing debt in 2017; 3) sale of non-core real estate holdings; 4) revenue and enrollment growth; and 5) expense reduction. These decisions are challenging, but I have confidence that this mix of strategies enables us to fulfill our mission, preserve quality and put the college on a sound footing for years to come. Faculty, staff and students are reviewing these recommendations and providing comment to the planning and priorities committee which will make its recommendations prior to the trustee meeting in January.
  • We continue to gather feedback on our strategic plan, and we would like to hear from you too. Please take a moment to answer a short series of questions that will help guide Calvin for years to come.
  • Students recently gathered on the Commons Lawn to create a giant card of gratitude, with special thanks to the donors who help make their education possible. Watch the video.
  • This winter, we’re showering our students with care and encouragement. You may have recently received a notecard in the mail. On this notecard, please write your words of encouragement and return the message with your year-end gift for Calvin students. If you have not received a notecard, please e-mail to request one. Or make a gift online.


In January we will present a plethora of ways to connect to Calvin.

  • The January Series, our nationally acclaimed noontime lecture series, begins on Jan. 8. If you are unable to attend our presentations on-campus, we will show all 15 talks live on large screens at 40-plus remote sites in the U.S., Canada and even overseas.
  • January also brings our annual Calvin-Hope men’s basketball viewing party. Gather with friends for the big game on Jan. 11 at 3 p.m. The game will be played at Calvin, but viewed all over the country! Find out where or contact the alumni office at to establish your own location.


Our fall teams completed the 2013 season in mid-November at nationals. Men’s cross country finished 27th, women’s cross country was seventh and our women’s volleybal team won the NCAA Division III national championship, our second D3 title in volleyball in the past four years! In addition senior Megan Rietema was named the national player of the year. See the Calvin volleyball page for all the details, including stats, photos, recaps, feature stories and more.

  • The Calvin men’s swimming and diving team completed the Calvin Winter Invitational this past weekend with numerous school records, including a new school record in the 500 freestyle for sophomore Aaron Venema who broke the old mark, set in 2003, by almost three seconds. To make things even sweeter, Venema set the mark in a pool, the Venema Aquatic Center, that bears his family name! Calvin’s women’s swimming and diving team also had a good weekend, including a new school record in the 100 butterfly for Michaela Rookus.
  • During the holidays our men’s basketball team will be in California, playing on Dec. 28 and Dec. 30, while the women’s team is in GR for the holidays, playing Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 at Davenport. Our swimming and diving teams are off during the Christmas break; men’s hockey also has an extended break during the holidays, but entered December as one of the top teams in its region according to the American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings.
  • Finally, congratulations to junior soccer player Travis Vegter who was recently named an Academic All-American.

At the end of my Korea visit I stood a few yards from the edge of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), dividing the northern and southern halves of what was once a single country. Peering through razor wire that has divided families and a people for 65 years, I found it easy to lament human depravity and the war and sin that so corrupt this world. Some places along the zone are places of hopelessness and despair. But I was also struck by the indomitable Korean spirit of hope that someday these two countries will be reunited in peace.

In this season of Advent I was also reminded of Simeon, who peers through the darkness in expectation of the coming of a great light to redeem this broken world. Standing on the edge of the DMZ it occurred to me that Simeon expects the light of Christ to arrive before he dies. Overwhelmed by the sadness and despair of this borderland I confess that I found it hard to feel the hope expressed by my Korean friends. But by expressing such hope these friends were also bearing witness to the hope of Simeon and the light of Christ.

May the hope of Simeon and the light of Christ be with you in this Advent Season.



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