June/July 2013

As we settle into summer, my mind continues to return now and then to May, when we celebrated the graduation of more than 800 students. Commencement day was perfect. We enjoyed clear skies, a full arena with throngs of family members to fete our graduates, a touching address from chemistry professor Kumar Sinniah and the gratitude of many parents. I accepted thanks from so many parents on behalf of the faculty, staff and supporters of Calvin, but it is clear to me that it took a faithful God and the efforts of more than 700 faculty and staff to deliver on the promise of a great education. I also want to thank you for your support of this endeavor that together we daily pursue on the Calvin campus and at a multitude of locales around the world.

Academics

The pace of summer is different than that of the school year, but across campus and beyond our students, faculty and staff are busy with a variety of academic projects.

  • From June 16 through July 12, 72 ethnic minority students are making their home at Calvin as they participate in the annual Entrada Scholars Program, an opportunity to experience college learning and living while earning college credit.
  • Each summer, hundreds of Calvin students scatter around the world, researching, interning and exploring. Some of these students are keeping us informed about their adventures in our We Are Calvin series. So far, we’ve heard from sophomore Rachel Wahl, who is on the Big Sky Geology interim, junior Andrew Mitchell, who is building a bridge in Kenya and sophomore Melissa Darusz, who is interning with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • Calvin’s Honors Program helps our students deepen their work in their discipline and strengthen their relationships with professors and peers. The college has just announced a new director for the program, history professor Bruce Berglund, who is eager to help students reach their full academic potential.

Student Life

We are already turning our attention to the 2013–2014 academic year, considering how to best serve those students who are returning and how to best welcome the more than 1,000 students who will be new to Calvin’s campus this fall.

  • Our Passport program is designed for new students and their family members with activities and creative workshops designed to highlight the range of opportunities at Calvin and to get incoming students familiar with Calvin and the campus. I look forward to seeing our incoming students on campus this summer.
  • One of the hallmarks of a Calvin education is our professors. We have a Presidential Award for Exemplary Teaching, which this year went to history professor James Bratt. We also have a student-awarded Professor of the Year honor which is given annually by Calvin’s senior class. This year’s recipient was psychology professor Julie Yonker.

Community

Summer brings myriad opportunities for productive time spent on the 400-acre Calvin campus.

  • Is your child interested in music, sports, academics or nature? Check out camp opportunities at Calvin this summer in chemistry, music, nature, sports, theatre and more. For a full list of summer camps, visit www.calvin.edu/go/camps.
  • Our Seminars @ Calvin program will host lectures this summer on such topics as Latino evangelicals, preaching and the Lord’s Supper. All events are free and open to the public and will be held on Wednesday evenings in June and July.

Alumni and parents

Numerous events sponsored by the college will take place this summer both on and off the Calvin campus. Look for us on the golf course, in the art museums of northern Europe and in many other locales near and far.

  • Our office of alumni and parent relations had the opportunity at the 2013 Commencement ceremonies to host and honor a record 180 members of the Class of 1963 for their 50-year reunion, while our Heritage Class (classes of 1955 and earlier) gathered on June 21 for their annual reunion, which included tours of the new Dice Mineralogical Museum, the recently renovated Rare Book Room and more.
  • The Alumni Association’s 44th annual golf tournament will be held Sept. 7, 2013, at Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club in Pierson, Mich., a delightful and challenging 18-hole course. All proceeds from this event go to student scholarships. Register now before the tourney fills up.
  • Traveling with Calvin professors is always a treat and next summer and fall offer the opportunity to explore the great art museums of northern Europe with art history professor Henry Luttikhuizen from June 16–27, 2014, or to explore Hungary and its Reformed heritage with political science professor emeritus Corwin Smidt from Sept. 24–Oct. 7, 2014. Contact the alumni office at 616-526-6142 or alumni@calvin.edu for more details.

International

As we reflect back on Pentecost and move into the liturgical season known as Ordinary Time, we, in the words of The Worship Sourcebook, celebrate the work of the Spirit in renewing all of creation, profess confidence in the Spirit’s power and grow in awareness of our calling to reach the world with the gospel.

  • Jeff Bloem and Nick Meekhof were awarded the Faith at Work Prize for their work during a semester-long program in Ghana under the directorship of economics professor Roland Hoksbergen. Jeff and Nick interviewed 20 small to medium business enterprise owners about their work, their challenges and their faith before writing a report that will be used to help future business owners achieve success.
  • Sometimes our work at Calvin might be described as out of this world. Rising seniors Sam Van Kooten and Dan Van Noord are using NASA-funded fellowships to study asteroid collisions and contact binary stars respectively under the tutelage of physics professors Larry Molnar and Steve Steenwyk. The pair attributes much of its success at Calvin to the resources they’ve had access to, including both top-notch faculty and high-caliber equipment.

Enrollment

While Commencement is somewhat a bittersweet event (we are proud of our graduates and eager to see them flourish, but we know we will miss them, too), the opportunity to welcome the Class of 2017, is pure joy. We are eager to have more than 1,000 new students join us on campus this fall (our largest incoming class in six years) and praying already that they will be blessed during their four years on campus.

  • We are looking ahead and scheduling visits for our admissions counselors to nearly 500 high schools, 250 college fairs and a dozen countries as we seek to introduce prospective students to Calvin. The admissions counselor for your region can be found on our website. Please check our interactive map to see who from Calvin will be coming to your area.
  • Last year we added 130 high school seniors to our database—thanks to your efforts in our ReCommend ONE campaign. This led to 22 new applicants of whom 16 were admitted. While this might seem like a small number, please know that it represents a 44 percent applicant-to-enrollee yield rate which is higher than our normal 38 percent yield rate. Please keep recommending Calvin.

Resources

We have been working hard to close the financial gap described in prior communications and are making good progress. Our goal is to close this gap and continue to support a quality student experience. These efforts will rely on several strategies, including fundraising, debt restructuring, revenue growth and expense reduction. In May the board of trustees approved a budget recommended by a campus committee made up of representatives from the administration, faculty and staff that makes a significant contribution to closing the anticipated gap. These expense reductions included reducing faculty and staff numbers by 22 employees. Most of these reductions were made weeks or months ago through faculty and staff attrition and non-renewal of faculty contracts, but also included the layoff of five staff this past May. These kinds of decisions are doubly painful because Calvin employees view their work as more than just a job. Please join me in praying for these friends in this season of transition.

  • The new Calvin C Club was formed this year to recognize Calvin varsity letter winners and to strengthen and support the Calvin athletic community. The club held its first awards night in May and recognized numerous teams and individuals for their efforts on the fields of competition, in the classroom and in the community.
  • Thank you to all who have faithfully supported Calvin this year. For the first time ever, gifts to the Calvin Annual Fund exceeded $3 million in one fiscal year. Each gift to support the Calvin Annual Fund helps to keep the cost of tuition down for every student and demonstrates the confidence that our constituents have in the work that is happening on campus. We are grateful for your commitment to Calvin and ask for your continued support in the coming year as we work together to make a Calvin education affordable.

Athletics

This past year was my first as Calvin’s president, and I have to say our athletic teams might have spoiled me a little bit! They welcomed me to campus with an even dozen Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) titles, the most ever in school or MIAA history for an academic year. But success in competition is just one facet of Calvin athletics, and I was thrilled to see the ways in which our student-athletes excel in other venues as well, including classroom and community.

  • Our highest honors for men’s and women’s athletics are the Beré Memorial Award and the Kay Tiemersma Athletic Award. This year’s recipients are Dan Kerr of Petoskey, Mich., winner of the Beré, and Lizzie Kamp of Orland Park, Ill., and Carissa Verkaik of Holland, Mich., co-recipients of the Tiemersma. Their accolades are too numerous to list here, but include such items as MVP, Academic All-American, player of the year and more.
  • For the first time since the 1999–2000 academic year, Calvin won the MIAA Commissioner’s Cup which is based on the cumulative performance of each member school in the league’s 20 sports for men and women.

Many of you have asked me how I feel as my first year at Calvin ends. While there have certainly been some surprises, when I search my heart, I find nothing but gratitude. My family has weathered this transition so well thanks to the prayers of so many, and I have been sustained in my work with the energy and support needed to serve our students, faculty and staff each day.

I am reminded of a George Herbert verse I used as a prayer more than a year ago and find it has been answered in full: “Thou that hast given so much to me, Give one thing more, a grateful heart … Not thankful when it pleaseth me; as if thy blessing had spare days; But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.” Thank you for the ways your encouragement has blessed the Calvin community this year.

Michael

 

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