January/February 2013

With our Christmas break behind us, we are combining January and February into one newsletter. I am finding a lot to love in winter at Calvin College: the January Series, basketball, our many sections of Developing a Christian Mind (DCM), and the faculty faith-and-learning seminar known here as the Kuiper Seminar—all of these serve to take us out of winter isolation and bring us together as a community.

The religious fervor of Calvin College basketball fans has led me to check my copy of the Heidelberg Catechism to make sure that I hadn’t missed the section on college hoops. I didn’t find any reference to basketball in the catechism, but here are a few things you will find going on at Calvin this winter.


January at Calvin means interim, and February means the rigors of spring semester.

  • For three weeks every January, students and faculty take some intriguing academic bypaths. This year, they studied “Fluorescence: Science and Uses” on campus, “Taos Art and Literature” in New Mexico and the flora and fauna of Galapagos-Amazonia in Ecuador, among many other offerings.
  • In January, the English department is showcasing reviews of recently published memoirs and fiction written by students. The students’ work is available on the departmental site.
  • Students in professor Kristin Du Mez’s “U.S. Social and Cultural History” class researched the local histories of a farm, an area industry, a park, and urban and suburban neighborhoods in the Plaster Creek Watershed. The students presented their work to the Plaster Creek Stewards, an area group that works to restore the watershed.
  • Calvin is one of only two institutions in the nation to have three Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grants from the National Science Foundation’s Department of Mathematical Sciences. Mathematics professors Jim Turner, Mike Bolt and Todd Kapitula are studying algebraic topology, complex analysis and applied linear algebra, respectively.

Student Life

Calvin students find meaningful ways to connect faith, learning and life.

  • Throughout January, students took shorter showers, refrained from using electrical appliances and limited their meat consumption (among other strategies) to earn sustainability points for their residence halls. The annual competition, Kill-A-Watt, is designed to educate students about sustainability as an issue of Christian faith.
  • Calvin’s international students enjoyed worship, games, snowtubing, karaoke and an international potluck at the annual International Students’ Winter Retreat, held Jan. 24–25 at Camp Roger.
  • Students who will be attending Calvin next year are encouraged to apply for named scholarships. To apply, access the named scholarship application via the “Services” tab in the Calvin portal. Scholarships are also available through Calvin departments. The application deadline is March 1.


Winter features many of Calvin’s most-loved and best-attended yearly events.

  • Pastors, worship leaders and planners, artists, musicians, scholars and students from around the world convened at Calvin Jan. 24–26 for the annual Calvin Symposium on Worship. Co-sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and the Center for Excellence in Preaching, the symposium gives attendees an opportunity to learn, to worship and to develop individual gifts.
  • On Friday, Feb. 15, Calvin students, faculty, staff and one college president will honor their pledges to “plunge into the icy waters” of the Seminary Pond at the Sem Pond Jump. Four-time jumpers will earn the coveted Golden Towel. Now I just need to find a college president crazy enough to do this.
  • Every year, Rangeela, Calvin’s international student variety show, is sold out well before the curtain opens. This year’s show, “Study Abroad,” held Feb. 22 and 23 in the Covenant Fine Arts Center, will feature dances and skits from five continents. Tickets are available at www.calvin.edu/boxoffice/tickets/.
  • The department of communication arts and sciences presents The Taming of the Shrew, held Jan. 31–Feb. 9 in Calvin’s Gezon Auditorium. This version of Shakespeare’s classic is set in 1870s-era Jefferson City, Mo. Tickets are $10.

Alumni and Parents

Calvin grads of all ages are connecting, celebrating, traveling and learning in 2013.

  • Each year, the Calvin and Hope alumni associations team up to present one of the famed “Rivalry” men’s basketball games on live satellite and on the Web. Last year, alums organized more than 80 “watch parties” from San Diego to Boston and Seattle to Naples. To see where you might be able to watch the Saturday, Feb. 9 game, visit www.calvinhope.com/gather/.
  • The Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning (CALL) has grown to 1,336 members. The CALL catalog of spring courses is now available for community members (minimum age: 50). Call (616) 526-8777 for more information.
  • Join Calvin art professor Henry Luttikhuizen in exploring the art museums of London, Paris, Bruges and Amsterdam on the Northern European Art Tour, held May 21–30. Alumnus John Apol will lead a tour through the Canadian Rockies from Sept. 21–30. Call (616) 526-6142 for tour brochures.


Calvin fosters scholarly exchanges of many kinds.

  • This year, Calvin hosted 24 international interims on five continents. Students studied leadership in Kenya, business in China, Spanish language in Mexico, French language and culture in Montreal, international teaching in Indonesia and much more.
  • Joel Carpenter, the director of Calvin’s Nagel Institute for World Christianity, was recently named to the board of John Stott Ministries, an international organization that focuses on developing theological leaders for the global south and east.


We are eager to have Calvin’s “heart and mind” education speak into the lives of more and more young people.

  • In this new calendar year, we give thanks for the 3,500-plus students who have already applied to Calvin for fall 2013. The enrollment team is working hard to make Calvin possible for every qualified student. Please make the success of our recruitment efforts a matter of both your prayers and your participation.
    • Encourage students to complete the admission process—including application forms, high school transcripts, recommendations and ACT/SAT/TOEFL scores—as soon as possible.
    • Encourage students to plan a Calvin visit.
    • Encourage parents to apply for financial aid.
  • Thanks for all you do to ReCommend Calvin! “One generation commends your works to another.” Psalm 145:4


Alumni and friends are making a Calvin education accessible and affordable in 2013.

  • As we enter spring semester, we are also encouraged by the strong affirmation of the Calvin project on the part of our donors. Gifts and pledges in the first half of the fiscal year exceeded $17 million, with a strong emphasis on scholarships and research. Thank you to our alumni and friends for their continued support.
  • More than 6,800 alumni and friends have given to the Calvin Annual Fund this fiscal year! If you haven’t made your gift yet, consider giving through www.calvin.edu/go/share before January 31 to receive a free album download for your gift of $51 or more. All of the featured artists are alumni singer-songwriters who value the work of the annual fund to keep tuition costs down for every student, every day.
  • Two alumni have established a scholarship to honor the German professors who mentored and encouraged them. The Wallace Bratt and Barbara Carvill German Scholarship provides financial assistance and encouragement to current German majors.
  • The Verizon Foundation recently awarded a $15,000 grant to the Calvin Energy Recovery Fund (CERF), a revolving fund that improves energy efficiency and reduces carbon dioxide emissions on campus.


Our student athletes continue to generate a lot of excitement.

  • At the end of the fall season, Calvin leads the Learfield Director’s Cup standings. The Learfield Cup is awarded each year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to the top Division III athletic program in the country. Calvin’s fall season was excellent, but there are still a few more seasons to go—stay tuned!
  • Calvin senior Lizzie Kamp was named the Capital One Academic All-American of the year.
  • The Calvin men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will be seeking MIAA titles when they compete at the MIAA Championships Feb. 13–16 at Jenison High School.

I write this greeting to you on the eve of the Calvin-Hope men’s basketball game, and I wonder about the outcome. By the time you receive this, we will all know the result. I also wonder whether the U.S. government will ever get its fiscal house in order, how my children will turn out and how higher education will be able to sustain itself on its current financial foundations. I pray often about things like this, and petition “Thy will be done.”

I confess that sometimes I fall prey to thinking about God’s will as a specific outcome for our problems (e.g., a Calvin win, faithful children, balanced government budgets, and a higher education model that preserves Calvin College’s best attributes). But then I remember a profound insight offered by my friend and colleague Jerry Sittser. Jerry said: “The will of God concerns the present moment more than the future; it deals with our motives as well as our actions; it focuses on the little decisions we make every day even more than the big decisions we make about the future. The only time we really have both to know and to do God’s will is the present moment. We are to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

God’s will for my life today is enough for me, and I rest in the blessed assurance that God holds my future too. This is my prayer for you as well.



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