December 2014 / January 2015

On the eve of our first winter storm, in early November no less, I set out with Chris Klein, director of Calvin’s Project Neighborhood program, to visit each of the six houses that are part of the program. These houses are located throughout Grand Rapids, and they give our students the opportunity to live and learn alongside our neighbors in the city.

Chemistry professor Doug Vander Griend and his family serve as mentors in Koinonia house in Grand Rapids. There he regularly reminds residents of his house that “life-changing community takes sacrifice,” helping them to remember the kind of transformation that takes place in intentional Christian community.

Some Project Neighborhood houses are closely tied to local churches, and students actively participate in the neighborhood ministries of those faith communities. Other houses work to cultivate an authentic love of neighbor by having students serve as tutors, homework helpers, health advocates and more. As we slipped and slid through Grand Rapids that November night, I felt so inspired by the work of our students and mentors in our city.

Academics

Calvin promotes the life of the mind among Christian scholars and laypeople, including our students.

  • On Reformation Day, theologians, scholars and business people came to Calvin for a symposium on common grace and business. Nearly all of Calvin’s business professors contributed scholarly papers connecting common grace to their particular disciplines within business, papers to be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Markets and Morality.
  • The Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship supports faculty research in a wide variety of topics. Recently it gave grants to Christiana de Groot (religion), who is the English-language editor of an encyclopedia on the Bible and women; to Henry Luttikhuizen (art history), who is writing a book that examines images of Christ; to Rebecca McBride (political science), who is researching better ways to integrate international students into Calvin classrooms; to David Noe (classics), who is translating the Latin works of important 17th-century theologians; to William Romanowski (CAS), who is writing a book on “Movies and the Religious Imagination” and to Roman Williams (sociology), who is using photographs to study congregations.

Community

We seek to identify, establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships locally, nationally and globally.

  • The 2015 edition of Calvin College’s award-winning January Series features a solid lineup of speakers who are at the leading edge of some of the nation’s and world’s most critical and timely discussions. From Wednesday, Jan. 7, through Tuesday, Jan. 27, a host of nationally acclaimed speakers will continue those conversations on Calvin’s campus and at 40-plus remote locations across the continent.
  • Just a reminder that you can watch daily chapels, on-campus worship services, lectures and many more events live on your computer via our state-of-the-art Livestream channel. Bookmark http://new.livestream.com/calvin-college and tune in to the many weekly happenings on the Calvin campus.

Student Life

Calvin College equips students to think deeply, to act justly and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.

  • The Upperclass Task Force (UTF) is a group of student life staff members and upperclass students that plans a variety of programs specifically targeted to juniors and seniors based on the four pillars of learning to love God, others, themselves and creation. In November, UTF hosted the “Litcious, Tritious, Soup’s On!” program, featuring Calvin professor Julie Walton who helped the group make white chicken chili and vegetarian robust squash. Added our Bob Crow: “Students left with a recipe card in hand and the confidence that they could replicate these soups for their housemates and friends, as a tangible act of love.”

International

We are pursuing an environment of inclusive excellence, cultural competency and global awareness.

  • Last month our international students held an International Worship Night. Almost 100 students participated and close to 500 students attended. Calvin senior Grace Kim helped organize the evening as part of the college’s Jubilee Fellows program. Grace was born in Korea, but moved to the Dominican Republic when she was young with her missionary parents, serving alongside them by helping with Sunday school, worship and more.

Alumni and parents

We are committed to building community among Calvin College alumni and friends around the world.

  • The alumni associations of Calvin and Hope colleges are again partnering on the next edition of “The Rivalry,” the men’s basketball game that is sent by satellite to more than 80 viewing locations across North America and the world. This year the game is on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, and you can find site locations at www.calvinhope.com. I am excited to be at my first “satellite location” on that date—in Bradenton, Fla. Cheer on the Knights wherever you are.
  • I had the chance to meet and hear from the latest Distinguished Alumni of Calvin, Dr. Silas Cheuk ’62 and Dr. Mike Mantel ’83, at an event during Homecoming Weekend. If you would like to nominate a Calvin graduate for this honor or others, you can do so at www.calvin.edu/alumni/awards-grants/alumni-awards.
  • It is inspiring to see the alumni association partnering with the college’s Service-Learning Center on the first-ever student/alumni service trip during the college’s spring break in March 2015. The group will be going to assist those trying to recover from the devastating floods in Boulder County, Colo. For more information on this trip, see www.calvin.edu/alumni/get-involved.

Resources

We will strengthen Calvin’s financial foundation for future generations.

  • What does it mean to participate in annual giving at Calvin? It means you are “voting for Calvin” with the amount you can afford. No matter the size of the contribution, your gift sends a powerful message that you are invested in Calvin College, and you want to give back to the next generation. High alumni giving rates tell donors and foundations unfamiliar with Calvin that our graduates believe in the education they have received. Last year we broke records for alumni giving, but this year the Annual Fund needs your help. As of late November, our alumni-giving participation rate trails where we were last year at this time. Will you make a gift of just $10, $25 or $50 to participate with us this month? Your gift will improve the lives of our students and help us end this year with strong participation numbers! Please give now at www.calvin.edu/go/give.

Enrollment

Stewardship has become a watchword at Calvin College, as in many other Christian communities, and this ideal is adding significantly to our understanding of our tradition and mission as a Christian community of learning.

  • “Is Calvin College still affordable for my children and grandchildren?” As I travel and visit with alumni and friends of the college across the country this is the most common question I receive. Paying for higher education is challenging, but I sincerely believe that a high-quality, Christian education is affordable at Calvin. Consider the information below and learn even more at www.calvin.edu/go/afford.
    • The actual cost to attend Calvin is below the average cost for four-year private colleges, both in the Midwest and nationally.
    • In the fall of 2014, the average financial aid package for incoming students was $20,000.
    • 99% of new Calvin students receive scholarships and/or grants, gift aid that does not need to be repaid.
    • Of the students at Calvin who acquire loans, the average loan debt at graduation is $29,403—the same as the national average, regardless of whether students attended public or private colleges.

Athletics

Follow all of our teams at calvinknights.com.

  • Calvin sports information director Jeff Febus is the dean of MIAA SIDs and one of the best in the country. He also lives a busy life every year in late November as winter sports get going and many of our fall sports teams make deep runs in NCAA tournaments. This year was no exception with men’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country all advancing to the NCAAs. Volleyball earned a top-four finish, falling in the national semifinals, while women’s cross country also notched a top-10 national finish, led by Cassie Vince’s third-place performance, the best for a Calvin harrier in 21 years. See calvinknights.com for all of the details, or subscribe to Jeff’s up-to-the-minute Calvin Sports Report.
  • Five members of the Calvin women’s volleyball team—seniors Elise Biesboer (Elmhurst, Ill.) and Emily Crowe (Granger, Ind.), junior Maggie Kamp (Orland Park, Ill.), sophomore Laura Danhoff (Willard, Ohio) and freshman Jenna Lodewyk (Villa Park, Ill.)—were named to the Great Lakes All-Region teams by the American Volleyball Coaches Association of America (AVCA). Lodewyk also was named the freshman of the year, while coach Amber Warners was named coach of the year. In addition, Kamp was named to the AVCA Division III All-America first team and named the Division III National Player of the Year, the fourth consecutive year a member of the Calvin women’s volleyball team has received the Player of the Year award. Danhoff was named to the second team and Lodewyk was named to the third team and named the AVCA Division III National Freshman of the Year.
  • For the fifth time in six years, Calvin College cross country coach Brian Diemer was named the Division III Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year in women’s cross country. And for the second consecutive year, Calvin sophomore Cassie Vince was named the Division III Great Lakes Region Female Athlete of the Year by the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association.
  • A record eight members of the conference-champion Calvin men’s soccer team were named All-MIAA this fall, including six to the first team, a feat last accomplished in 1970! Senior Travis Vegter (Hudsonville, Mich.) was named MIAA MVP and for the second consecutive year was named a Capital One Academic All-American.
  • The winter sports season is off and running with men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s swimming and diving all in action this month and hosting key league and non-league contests (although men’s basketball is our road warrior team of the month in December with five games all on the road!).

Our Project Neighborhood students have chosen to take up residence in Grand Rapids, and in this simple act they are learning to love. Learning to love is one of the core practices that gives meaning and purpose to our lives.

This learning reminds me of the supreme act of God’s love that is the incarnation we celebrate this Advent Season: that Jesus Christ was sent because of love. John 3:16 has been trivialized in the stands at sporting events, so it is easy for me to take this concise summary of the Gospel for granted, but I know of no other religion whose god so loves a people that it sacrificed godliness to be human.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

I pray that this Advent Season will be a time to renew our deep gratitude for this abiding truth.

Michael

 

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