November 2013

A few weeks ago hundreds of parents and alumni joined our students for a lovely fall weekend of class visits, excellent research presentations, two fantastic music festivals and competition in three sports. Students raced cardboard canoes and pole-vaulted into the Sem Pond (go figure), and a group of seniors camped out on my lawn.

What a great weekend! I want to extend a special thanks to parents, grandparents and siblings who visited students. Homecoming and Family Weekend reminds me of the partnership we have formed as we work to help our students succeed. Parents train, we teach, and alumni and friends help fund an education that changes lives.

These activities buttress our hard-working students as they aim to become graduates who are agents of renewal in a world in need of their God-given gifts. On their behalf, and mine, thank you for your faithful friendship.


Our academic community has just finished two days of advising, an opportunity for students to create a roadmap for academic success alongside their faculty mentors. Our professors and students work together on academic pursuits in and out of the classroom.

  • Jason Van Horn, a professor of geology, geography and environmental studies, worked with students Chengbi Liu and Bill SooHoo to build an online mapping application ( for the Plaster Creek Watershed, funded by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality. Van Horn also recently started a new beekeeping club on campus for interested students.
  • Judith Vander Woude, a professor of communication arts and sciences, recently served as an external consultant for three universities beginning graduate programs in speech pathology. She also traveled to China to establish a May 2014 interim course and served as adviser for three students who defended their master’s thesis in Calvin’s speech pathology and audiology program.
  • The two newest exhibitions in the Center Art Gallery, located in the Covenant Fine Arts Center, opened on Nov. 1. The “Exquisite History” exhibition is a product of professor Adam Wolpa’s recent sabbatical, while the “A Prodigal Story” exhibition was curated by professor Craig Hanson and was researched with one of his art history students Paula Manni.
  • After seven years of faithful service to the academic division, Provost Claudia Beversluis has announced she will be stepping down at the end of June. We will celebrate her many contributions and accomplishments in the spring, and we are now in the midst of our search for a new provost to lead the academic division.


Calvin welcomes members of the west Michigan community to campus, welcomes members of CalvinNation and hosts a wide variety of visitors from other institutions of higher education, providing resources we believe can benefit people around the globe.

  • In late September faculty, administrators and staff from 11 faith-based college and universities came to Calvin to learn how better to develop graduates who are able to value the authenticity of others’ religious commitments without replacing their own vibrant faith commitments. The gathering was sponsored by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship and the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education and funded by NetVUE.
  • This month our music department will host and perform with Ola Gjeilo, currently one of the most sought-after pianist-composers in the world. The Nov. 10 concert also will feature a Gjeilo world premiere sung by the Alumni Choir and Women’s Chorale.
  • The Michigan Business and Professional Association is celebrating Calvin as one of 61 companies statewide who make their workplaces, their employees and the community a healthier place to live and work.


The enrollment team and alumni board are pleased to announce two opportunities that offer increased financial support to new students. Beginning in the fall of 2014, all first-year Calvin students who are members of a Christian Reformed Church will receive an enhanced denominational grant of $1,500 (up from $800–$1,200 previously). This award will continue throughout their Calvin years. In addition, new third-generation legacy students may also benefit from increased Alumni Legacy Scholarships of $1,500 (up from $500). To qualify, students must be admitted to Calvin and apply for the scholarship by Feb. 1. Both of these awards will be offered in addition to all other scholarships and financial aid for which students are eligible.

  • Please continue to think about the high school seniors you know and talk to them about Calvin. Encourage a senior to visit Calvin. Upcoming Fridays at Calvin will be Nov. 8, 15 and 22. You can also schedule an AnyDay Visit, as the name suggests, any day! Travel assistance programs are also available.
  • Please also remind high school seniors that they can apply for admission for free until Dec. 2 (Jan. 2 for international and transfer students).
  • Would you consider identifying one high school senior and making them your personal “come-to-Calvin” focus through our ReCommend ONE program?

Student Life

  • The third annual all-campus Bible study is in full swing, with approximately 90 groups meeting on campus to study the book of Exodus. Off-campus groups are meeting as well. As we read these powerful stories, we remember that they are about people just like us: people who wanted to work and worship, to dance and to love. And they are about the same God—the Father, Son and Spirit—whom we long to know today.
  • This year we are celebrating our highest-ever enrollment of international students and students of African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American descent (AHANA). AHANA students now make up 13 percent of the student body while international students comprise a little over 10 percent. The first week of October was UnLearn Week, full of intentional programming centered on anti-racism. This year’s events challenged the many generalizations, stereotypes and assumptions that maintain racism in our society.
  • We welcomed 29 first-generation students with multicultural leadership experience to our campus this fall as the first-ever cohort of John M. Perkins Leadership Fellows. The Fellows are taking some courses together and will have opportunities for leadership development and service, including a dinner with John Perkins and me on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as well as a Spring Break Service-Learning trip to Jackson, Miss., and the Perkins Center next March.


  • Calvin features nine Living Legacies displays on campus—one in each of the seven residence halls, one in the Knollcrest East apartment building Theta-Epsilon and one in Johnny’s Café. Each display lists the names of donors to the Calvin Annual Fund who lived in the residence hall where the display is located, or in the Knollcrest East apartment community. The exception is the display in Johnny’s, which features commuter and Franklin campus alumni. Make your gift today to join the ranks of Calvin’s Living Legacies!


  • Larry Herzberg, a professor of Asian languages, wrote a 9,000-word article on Chinese proverbs for “The New Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language,” to be published by Routledge Press in 2014. He also added a new chapter and other new sections and updates to the third edition of his China Survival Guide, to be released this month. The book has already sold close to 20,000 copies, which prompted the publisher to request a third edition.
  • This past summer our Kuyers Institute launched, an extensive online resource designed to help teachers think about how Christian faith can inform their pedagogical choices. This fall we received word about a recently opened Free Secondary School (a new type of government-funded school in England), sponsored by a consortium of 27 local churches, that is adopting the framework provided in the whatiflearning site as the school’s pedagogical approach and using the resource as a training tool with teachers.

Alumni and parents

I am eager to share where we are in the strategic planning process for the college during a Telephone Town Hall on Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. (EST). I will speak for 10–20 minutes and then take your questions for the remainder of our time together. Some of you attended the in-person Town Hall during Homecoming/Family Weekend, and I appreciated your perspective. Here’s a chance for more of you to join the conversation. Looking forward to it!

  • I had the chance to meet with the alumni association board in October and plan to meet with the parent council in February. I can tell you that you are well represented by these fine Calvin ambassadors. Thank you to them for their service!
  • I have appreciated meeting alumni and friends, and more “Meet the President” events are being planned. Check online, and know that I am helped immensely by your questions and stories of Calvin connection.
  • The alumni office is busily working on the next edition of “The Rivalry,” the televised men’s basketball game between Calvin and Hope colleges, on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 3 p.m. Last year 80 locations offered viewing sites! You can see a list of sites (and perhaps arrange for one near you) online.
  • It is time to “shop Calvin” for Christmas! The alumni association will partner with the Campus Store on Saturday, Dec. 7. You can find the details online. If you live too far to shop in person, do so online.


The month of November is one of the busier times for Calvin’s athletics as winter sports have all either begun or will soon begin, and Calvin’s fall sports teams are gearing up for MIAA and NCAA post-season play. Please say a prayer for our athletic directors, our trainers, our support staff, including our sports information director, and, of course, our athletes! You can get updates on games, the upcoming schedules and more on the sports website or subscribe to the Calvin Sports Report to get updates straight to your inbox.

  • Opponents of Calvin’s nationally ranked women’s cross country team often see the Knights cross the finish line among the leaders. This year coach Brian Diemer’s squad also has opponents seeing double as the roster includes two sets of twins!
  • The Calvin men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams recently kicked off their seasons, and both teams received an early season boost with a surprise visit from a pair of U.S. Olympic swimmers.

This month’s busy edition leaves me with approximately 75 words with which to close. So allow me to finish with words from Psalm 100 that keep visiting me in this month of thanksgiving. “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth… Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”



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