September 2013

On move-in day this fall the campus suddenly came back to life as Andrea and I helped new students transport more electronic devices per person than I owned in my entire house ten years ago. The opening days of the school year invigorate all of us as we approach our learning with wonder and delight. We study history to develop judgment, literature to learn the best of what has been thought and said, art and music to distinguish what is lovely from what is loud and what is graceful from what is garish. And it is our hope that when our graduates, transformed by the renewing power of Jesus, enter their vocations they are used by God to transform the jungle back into a garden, restore some part of the lost loveliness of His world or introduce some novel beauty into it. So, as we get plugged in to the rhythms of a new year, I am pleased to also give you an update on the activities of the summer.


We welcomed 4,000 students to campus this month, including more than 1,100 first-year and transfer students (our largest class since 2007). The great class of 2017 represents a tremendous vote of confidence in the Calvin educational mission. We’ll have more information about this class in the October edition of This Square Inch.

  • In a summer when we lost two faculty members, Bert Polman (music) and Bill Vande Kopple (English), and one student, rising senior Eric DeGroot, those deaths remind us of our collective fragility and serve to deepen our appreciation for one another as we mourn. The life of each person also inspires us to renew our shared sense of purpose.
  • Calvin students and professors work closely in the summer on research projects that lead to published work. This summer our McGregor Summer Research Fellowships program created collaborations on the role of music in identity, sports and faith formation, internships at Christian, non-governmental organizations and reforming the global security order.
  • This summer Calvin hosted a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities seminar on religious persecution, toleration and co-existence in early modern Europe. Karin Maag, director of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies, landed the grant that funded the program, and she served as co-director.
  • The Graduate Studies in Education program was busy this summer running 12 courses and workshops led by 13 different faculty members who taught and mentored 120 students from around the globe.
  • Congratulations to the social work department: reaffirmed by the Council on Social Work Education and accredited until 2021.

Student Life

Calvin students were active around the country and around the world this summer (see our We Are Calvin series online to read and hear their stories), and we are excited to continue that momentum on and off campus this coming school year.

  • Our first-year students got a taste of Calvin service-learning during StreetFest 2013. Accompanied by faculty and staff mentors, our students spent a day serving 65 nonprofit and church partners in Grand Rapids.
  • Our campus Bible study on Exodus is underway. Groups of students, faculty, staff and alumni are gathering for a ten-week study. In addition, many churches in West Michigan, North America and around the world also will be studying Exodus this fall. Find study guides at
  • The Sexuality Series kicks off on Sept. 17 with “Speaking Freely about Sex, Shame and Grace.” Author and speaker Anne Marie Miller will share candidly from her own life story, creating a safe space for students to talk about the creation, fall and redemption of sexuality.


A Calvin education has a life-changing impact and expands the horizons of our students, staff and faculty. God calls us to look beyond our own borders and encourages us to step forth in faith knowing that our world belongs to God.

  • Education professor Jo Kuyvenhoven was asked by the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Education to help lead a project in Sierra Leone centered on teaching, reading and improving the quality and learning outcomes for 800,000 children in 6,000 schools nationwide.
  • During a recent Interim (a three-week term in January), students of history professor Bruce Berglund interviewed former missionaries, and those interviews now are being published by the Christian Reformed Church in North America on its World Missions website.
  • This summer we sent our students to such locales as China, England, Indonesia, Germany and Japan for off-campus learning. And in late August more than 150 of our students departed for Calvin-sponsored, semester-long experiences in such places as China, France, Ghana, Honduras, Hungary, New Mexico, Peru and Spain.


The start of a new school year brings numerous opportunities for the local community and beyond to connect on the Calvin campus.

  • Our French department in conjunction with the Calvin Film Forum will offer its ninth annual French Film Festival in September, one of many cultural events this fall. Plus, don’t miss the Spoken Latin Weekend to be held Sept. 27–28, a conference designed for Latin students of all levels, especially those in secondary schools and colleges.
  • Our second annual Calvin Young Women’s Business Institute was held this summer, and 17 young women (all entering their junior or senior year of high school) attended, exploring careers in business and connecting with West Michigan businesswomen.
  • I am grateful and humbled to be among the 15 speakers for the 2014 January Series (my topic will be the sustainability of higher education and the future of Calvin College). We begin on Wednesday, Jan. 8 with Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author who spent 15 years interviewing more than 1,200 people to write The Warmth of Other Suns, the epic story of the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South in search of a better life.

Alumni and parents

We are proud of our graduates and the work they do in response to God’s call. And we are eager this fall to hear more of their stories at a variety of events on and off campus where we encourage our alumni to come together and share the ways in which God has been at work in their lives.

  • Andrea and I are looking forward to meeting many alumni and parents on Homecoming & Family Weekend on campus Oct. 18–20. We’ll be at the Family Weekend Tailgater on Oct. 18, and I will host a Town Hall Meeting on Oct. 19.
  • I’ll be visiting numerous stops in “Calvin Nation” over the coming months and am eager to share thoughts about Calvin’s future and hear your ideas on what the college’s priorities ought to be.
  • Our Student Treats program lets your student know you’re thinking of them. There are six seasonal treats and four special occasion or “anytime” treats available; you can order them individually or as a package. The deadline for the package is Sept. 12, so visit for the details.


Those who support Calvin have made the thoughtful decision to include Christian higher education in their stewardship of the resources God has blessed them with. We aim to be wise caretakers of the gifts you give.

  • In addition to our enrollment numbers, another great vote of confidence and support came from our donors and friends who helped us break our fundraising goals for 2012–13. When the year began, we hoped to receive $17 million in pledges and $3 million in gifts to our Calvin Annual Fund. Thanks to the hard work of our fundraising teams and grant writers, the college received more than $22 million in pledges, $3.2 million in Annual Fund gifts and $2.2 million in research funding! This result is nothing short of humbling and leads all of us to feel such overwhelming gratitude for the friends and supporters of Calvin College.
  • The Calvin Annual Fund thanks you for your support of 4,000 students through gifts of all sizes. We invite supporters to visit to view a special video. Also, please note that our student callers will begin connecting with supporters this month, and they would love to hear about your Calvin experience. If you know you will not be available for a phone call, you may give online anytime at


This fall our admissions counseling team will visit high schools and attend college fairs in 25 states and 12 countries, sharing Calvin’s story with hundreds of prospective students and parents. Watch for them in your area, and be sure to welcome them warmly!

  • We also are reaching out to 100,000 seniors across the country and around the world through our Senior Search initiative. This program encourages students who are familiar with Calvin to apply soon, but it also reaches into new audiences of students who might find Calvin’s “heart and mind” education a tremendous opportunity. Think about the students you know, and invite them to consider Calvin! Note too that Calvin will waive the $35 application fee for students who submit their applications by Dec. 1 (U.S.) or Jan. 1 (international).
  • You are warmly invited to bring students to visit campus this fall! Please explore our many visit options at


The 2012–13 school year was a record-breaking one for Calvin athletics with numerous MIAA-championship teams and accolades for efforts in the classroom, on the field and in the community. We will continue that pursuit of athletic and academic excellence in 2013–14.

  • Volleyball coach Amber Warners and setter Megan Rietema were part of a collegiate volleyball team that spent a week in Costa Rica this summer. Women’s volleyball enters the 2013 season ranked second in the country.
  • Recent Calvin graduate Tom Snikkers signed a professional basketball contract to play overseas in the Netherlands.
  • A record 11 Calvin teams received the MIAA Team Grade Point Average Award this past school year for maintaining a 3.30 cumulative team GPA or higher.

After one of the Passport orientation sessions on campus this summer, I was stopped by a father who came 2,000 miles to drop his son off at Calvin. The college was new to his family, and he expressed that he and his family had some apprehension as they wondered how their son would be received and welcomed. He explained that the orientation melted all of his fears, and he was “blown away” by the competence and care exhibited by faculty and staff. He thanked me for ensuring that the “resurrection was alive and well at Calvin College.”

I am thankful for living resurrection at Calvin College too and couldn’t have said it better myself. Living resurrection means that our community is challenged to die to the things that prevent us from living the life God intended for us. We worship in order to know. We pray before we think. We understand that the desires of our heart can be shaped into God’s story through spiritual discipline and practice. Any activity of cultural renewal grows from a deep understanding of what God is doing in us and through the church. Faith grows when students are able to connect the way they think with the way they live. Living resurrection is our deepest educational aspiration, and I pray it may be so in this new academic year.



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