January/February 2014

Last month I had the privilege of meeting with the 990 mostly first-year students in the Developing a Christian Mind (DCM) interim course. DCM introduces students to the central intellectual project of Calvin College: the development of a Christian worldview and a faith-based engagement with culture. My assignment was to articulate what it means to love God with our minds. Christians tend to do pretty well loving God with our hearts and hands, but to love God with the mind is often a more elusive pursuit. It was wonderful to be with our students talking about the foundation of Calvin’s mission.

As we work to sustain this mission for generations to come, I am thrilled that the faculty and board just approved a five-year strategic plan, a new vision rooted in an historic mission, which equips us well to use the next five years to prepare for the next 20. Via this plan we will remain rooted in what we do well, but also will be nimble and innovative in a changing higher education context.

The new plan will be communicated in greater depth later this spring, but know that it is the culmination of long processes that involved significant community feedback, including hundreds of faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, board members and other stakeholders.


We have finished interim and begun second semester! As always we covet your prayers for our academic community as a new semester begins.

  • The offerings during interim spanned a wide variety of fascinating topics, everything from a course on the management (and mismanagement) of pain to the theology of Narnia to the acoustical and psychological bases of sound. Interim is a great opportunity for our students to explore special topics in greater depth.
  • Interim courses often venture off campus, and this past January was no exception with courses in Mexico, Cambodia, Kenya, India and more. Many of those trips blogged, and we have gathered them in one spot for your reading pleasure.
  • German professor Pennylyn Dykstra-Pruim recently received a national award given to a teacher and author whose work and writings changed the course of his or her profession.
  • Last semester marked the kickoff of a revamped accounting program. Professor Julie Voskuil talked with our News & Stories team about the new options for students and what makes accounting at Calvin unique.
  • KJ Yoo developed an entrepreneurial spirit at Calvin. Now, the 2013 grad is taking his senior engineering design project, Übercaster, to market.
  • Calvin English professors Jennifer Holberg and Jane Zwart taught “Faith and Fiction: Stories That Preach” for interim, and Holberg recently blogged about it for “The Twelve,” a daily look at life through a Reformed, Christian lens.


A new year and new beginnings also include our ongoing pledge to steward well all that you have entrusted to us.

  • Embedded in our strategic plan is a commitment to secure Calvin’s financial future. This component of the plan identifies five strategies for closing our projected operating budget gap of $7.5 million by 2017, including: a principal reduction fundraising goal of $25 million, enrollment growth, the sale of non-core real estate, debt refinancing and expense reduction of $4.5 million over four years. The guiding principles for this plan include the preservation of academic quality and a distinctive student experience.
  • We have a goal of 1,000 new Calvin Annual Fund supporters this year and are at almost 500 new supporters and counting! Follow our progress on the Calvin Annual Fund Facebook page. Can’t give a large amount? Just $5 shows your commitment to today’s students.
  • If you received a 2014 wall calendar from Calvin please note a few corrections:
    • Easter Monday (April 21) is a no-class day.
    • Oct. 21–22 is NOT academic advising. That will be Oct. 28–29.
    • The October board meeting is Oct. 22–25, the week following Homecoming.

Alumni and parents

Stories abound after the recent Calvin-Hope “Rivalry” game, including lots of photos from the 77 satellite sites.

Student Life

Our students are involved in the classroom, on campus, in the community and around the world.

  • Kill-a-watt took place during interim as dorms competed to reduce their electricity usage by eliminating extra appliances, unplugging cords not in use, having plants and using natural light. We live on campus, too, and were recruited to participate, so I took very short showers through the first month of the year to save energy!
  • The Calvin Service-Learning Center is celebrating 50 years in 2014 with a multitude of events, including a chapel service on Feb. 19 that all are invited to attend.


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 3,400 students who have already applied to Calvin for fall 2014. 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. In addition, encourage students to plan a Calvin visit and 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


We continue to offer to the west Michigan community and beyond a host of opportunities to connect to our campus and culture.

  • The Center Art Gallery has two exhibitions from Japanese artists: “Beauty Given By Grace: The Biblical Art of Sadao Watanabe” and “Striking Impressions: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Permanent Collection.” The latter features more than 30 Japanese woodblock prints from the college’s permanent collection. There will be a curator’s talk on the prints on Friday, Feb. 21, at 1:30 p.m. in the gallery by Joel Zwart that is free and open to all.
  • The January Series has concluded for another year, but many of the talks from 2014, including my presentation on the future of higher education, are archived and available online.
  • The 2014 Festival of Faith and Writing is April 10–12, but the registration deadline is March 14. Public tickets are now on sale for evening keynote talks by James McBride and Anne Lamott.


Calvin students hail from around the globe, and we also annually send our students to the far corners of the globe.

  • Rangeela is a vibrant showcase of dance, song and skits designed and performed by Calvin’s international students. This year’s dates are Feb. 28 and March 1.
  • A recent story in Spark looked at semester-long, off campus education for Calvin students and its life-changing impact.


The winter season is in full swing. Keep up with all of our teams online.

  • A special program to honor Calvin’s 2013 NCAA III volleyball champions will take place on Saturday, Feb. 8 in Van Noord Arena, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with a desert reception followed by the main program at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend. Cost is $10 for adults or $6 for ages 5–18. Register online.
  • Did you miss the free promotional piece during the recent Calvin-Hope broadcast on WGVU-TV? Check it out online.
  • Read a recent profile on Calvin senior Ben de Waal Malefyt, an outstanding student-athlete and the head of the Knight Nation student cheering section.
  • The Calvin swimming and diving teams spent part of their Christmas break training in Puerto Rico and kept journals, while men’s basketball player Jordan Brink posted from California.

Alexis De Tocqueville, the 19th century political theorist and chronicler of American democracy, once observed: “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” There are many great things that commend the liberal arts taught in a Christian context, but Tocqueville’s lesson may be one of the greatest.

At Calvin we still believe in the paradox of sin and grace and teach that “though the reality of sin and misery is formidable, we are set free from all our sins and misery through Jesus Christ.” Daily we respond with gratitude to that freely given grace, including in the work we do with students, leading them to know their discipline well and teaching and modeling the virtues of humility, responsibility and love of neighbor. At Calvin daily conversations between professors and students are regular mileposts in the character formation journey, and whether a student is engineer, accountant, artist or philosopher, these conversations are an integral part of the process that forms and marks every Calvin College graduate.

I am privileged and humbled to each day be a part of this endeavor, and I thank you, too, for your role in support of this life-changing educational project.



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