June/July 2014

I write to you this June, fresh off a busy semester and a stirring Commencement ceremony that produced 891 Calvin graduates who now bear the renewing charge of a Calvin education. It didn’t hurt to have perfect weather on our graduation day (76 degrees, low humidity!), and the Commencement address was artfully delivered by outgoing provost Claudia Beversluis, who compared the graduates to seeds that have a past and carry memory into a new life.

“They carry something of the history of how they were made,” she said, “and then seeds can take a shared history into a scattered, dispersed future.” Claudia’s metaphor is a beautiful depiction of our life in Christ and of the vision we have for shaping our graduates into Christ’s agents of renewal in a broken world.

Commencement day left me overwhelmed with gratitude for all that our faculty, staff, parents, friends and donors do to make the day possible. Let me simply say, thank you.

Academics

Calvin produces Christian scholarship and promotes the life of the mind among Christian scholars and lay people, including our students.

  • Practice is a big thing for Julie Walton. In fact it’s at the heart of her teaching philosophy, an approach to her work in and out of the classroom that this year landed her Calvin’s Presidential Award for Exemplary Teaching, the college’s highest professorial honor. She says: “We’re educating here for a bigger purpose. It’s a big, hurting world, and we need, and God calls, our students to be at work in it.”
  • Maria Cupery is a Calvin student from Turkey who is pursuing a linguistics major and a Spanish minor. For a recent honors paper with Calvin English professor James Vanden Bosch, she decided to do a linguistic analysis of Turkish and American pop music, a paper that is now winning awards and garnering her conference presentation invitations.
  • On Calvin senior Ryan Struyk’s second day as an ABC News intern in Washington, D.C., he covered the State of the Union address. Struyk is one of 18 Calvin students who went on the Washington semester this spring and whose internships are already opening doors.

Community

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

  • Calvin students in Math 323 often get a chance to partner with local elementary schools, benefiting both the elementary schools and Calvin’s elementary education majors. They do hands-on instruction in the classroom, volunteer at “Math Night” and much more.
  • For 30 years, the Southwest Michigan Special Olympics Spring Games have been held at Calvin College. This year more than 125 Calvin varsity student-athletes volunteered their time at the games.
  • Our Geoff Van Berkel was honored last month by a Grand Rapids radio station as a “Hometown Hero.” Geoff manages our campus turf areas and much more. He also is chairman of the board of Haitian Interdenominational Shelter’s Home for Children and has led the Michigan group of the H.I.S. Home 300 bicycle marathon fundraiser for the past four years.

Student Life

This summer, beginning July 2, almost 1,000 first-year Calvin students will come to campus for orientation programs designed to introduce them to Calvin’s purpose, people and programs, to help ensure their smooth transition to college and to prepare them academically for their years at Calvin.

  • At Calvin we have been using the wilderness as part of orientation since 2005 and now have 7–8 trips each summer with more than 100 first-year students and 25 instructors and student-leaders. This year we will have trips not just in Michigan, but also to Ontario, Kentucky and Colorado, opportunities to see and experience God’s marvelous creation, opportunities for an “epic” adventure.
  • The wilderness orientation trips accomplish something we desire for all of our students: an excitement about their future at Calvin, powerful conversations about their transition to college life and relationships with Calvin faculty/staff and other new students. I look forward to seeing new students this summer.

International

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!”

  • Calvin chemistry professor Herb Fynewever will be spending seven months at Kathmandu University in Nepal starting in January 2015. He has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar grant, a national cultural exchange program designed “to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills.” He will teach general chemistry and research various subjects concerning culture, teaching and student-instructor interaction.

Alumni and parents

Commencement weekend was a busy one for the entire campus, including our alumni office and the Calvin Alumni Association.

  • More than 175 members of the Class of 1964 attended their 50-year reunion during Commencement, complete with meals, tours, programs, a chapel service, the graduation medallion ceremony and prime seats for the Class of 2014’s ceremonies in Van Noord Arena. One member, Bob Lubbers, came to the reunion in the same car he drove to his 1964 graduation!
  • The Alumni Association honored professor of education emeritus Tom Hoeksema with the Faith and Learning Award for his trailblazing work in special education and the late H. William “Bill” Dungey with the Outstanding Service Award for his years of encouraging and funding Entrada scholars. Shereice, Bill’s widow, accepted the award for the family. We are grateful for the service of these two servants of Christ.
  • Michelle Loyd-Paige, executive associate to the president for diversity and inclusion, spoke as a “professor, pastor and parent” to the parents of graduates on Commencement morning. Her address, titled, “More than we could ever hope or imagine,” is available via the parent website.
  • New alumni board leaders were recently chosen: Chris Wiesehan ’05, a financial analyst from Chicago, will be the 2014–15 president; Scott Vandenberg ’94, an online school administrator from Lynden, Wash., is president-elect; and Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom ’93, a national children’s advocacy administrator from Ann Arbor, Mich., will serve as secretary. We wish these dedicated grads success in the year ahead.

Enrollment

Our Enrollment Management team prays regularly for students and families who are choosing a college, asking God to bless our work and to help bring the right students to Calvin.

  • Though we are experiencing a slight decline in enrollment this year, we are confident that God will bring precisely the right students to Calvin this fall. As of this writing, almost 950 new freshmen have confirmed their plans to join the Calvin community in the fall. An early profile of this class shows those students are: academically strong (with GPAs and test scores that continue Calvin’s tradition of excellence), diverse (the second-highest number of Asian, Hispanic/Latino, African and Native American students in recent years) and faithful (with church homes within the Christian Reformed Church and many other Christian denominations).
  • Financial aid has played a critical role in the college choice of many of our incoming students. Thank you to all who support Calvin College students with your dollars and your prayers. You make a difference. As you read these comments below about our financial aid process, know that they would not be possible without your support.
    • I am incredibly thankful and in awe of God’s provision for Calvin. He didn’t just open a door, He moved a mountain!!!
    • I want to thank you. It means a lot to us that you were even willing to take a second look and find more aid for our son.
    • I am very pleased with this financial aid package and believe that our family can make the necessary adjustments to make it possible for our son to go to Calvin College.

Resources

Together we will strengthen Calvin’s financial foundation for future generations.

  • With our fiscal year ending June 30, we would like to thank all of our financial supporters—including the nearly 16,000 donors who have given to the Calvin Annual Fund this fiscal year. Make your online gift today.

Athletics

Our 2013–2014 seasons have concluded, but you can keep up with all of the summer happenings on our new sports website, calvinknights.com.

  • Our highest athletic honors are the Beré and Tiemersma awards. Tyler Kruis is this year’s Beré winner, while Megan Rietema is the 2014 recipient of the Tiemersma Award. Read more about Megan and Tyler.
  • The above awards were the highlight of our second annual C Club Awards Knight Celebration at Van Noord Arena, where we also honored people and teams in such categories as: Record-Breaking Performance of the Year, Female Role Player of the Year, Play of the Year, the Knight of Distinction Alumni Award and more. See the complete list, plus video from that night, online.
  • Calvin College senior John Strikwerda was named a recipient of the 2014 Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes men’s and women’s tennis players who have exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements. A chemistry major, Strikwerda was named a Goldwater Scholar at Calvin last spring and has served as a research assistant in the chemistry department. Read more.

As I was working on this issue of This Square Inch we received word of the shooting at Seattle Pacific University. Such a tragedy is of course every college president’s worst nightmare. But it hit even closer to home for me as SPU is located in my hometown, and our family knows many students, faculty and staff who serve that fine Christian institution.

My initial prayer was simply to cry: “How long, oh Lord? How many more of these tragic events will our society have to endure?” I don’t know the answer, but I felt compelled to make that petition. And as I prayed, I remembered one of the lines from Claudia’s Commencement address. She reminded us that one way God answers our prayers is to send us new students each year to be educated and sent into this broken and hurting world.

In spite of the darkness that can descend on us, it encourages me to remember that we participate in a ministry of hope for a new heaven and a new earth. I give thanks that I have a front-row seat to this ministry, and I thank you for supporting Christian higher education with your prayers and encouragement, including your prayers for Calvin and also your continued prayers for SPU. Blessings,

Michael

 

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