November 2014

At Calvin we believe that Christ calls us to engage a broken world. This calling is not just theoretical. It lives in our classrooms and labs, in the Chapel, on the playing fields and in the many vital partnerships we foster as a college both around the corner and across the globe.

Just last month Calvin hosted a critical summit on literacy efforts in West Michigan, convened by the Community Literacy Initiative, a coalition that empowers community leaders, parents and residents. We know that we have much work to do in this important area of literacy. Indeed, according to the 2014 State of Michigan Education Report just 56 percent of low-income students are proficient in reading. This must change.

Wendy Falb ’87, executive director of the Literacy Center of West Michigan, and Lindsay McHolme ’03, director of the Community Literacy Initiative, are two Calvin alumni in key leadership roles in these local initiatives, alumnae who are thirsting after the kind of renewal they encountered at Calvin.

In addition, Calvin faculty are focused on writing grants to improve the quality of instruction in West Michigan, while our students are being encouraged and empowered to learn about literacy and serve those seeking to improve their lives in this area. I am inspired by all of these agents of renewal!


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

  • Professor Serita Nelesen and computer science students Beka Agava, Paige Brinks, Naomi Hamilton and Karis Kim attended the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Billed as the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, the event brought together some 8,000 attendees for keynote addresses, technical talks, poster sessions and networking with potential employers. Our students were sponsored by the computer science department’s Strategic Partners Council.
  • The Plaster Creek Stewards (PCS) recently received a $1.1 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. PCS is a collaboration of Calvin faculty, staff, students and community members who are working to restore the creek’s highly contaminated watershed. The new grant will fund education and research efforts (many of which include our students) and on-the-ground restoration projects on campus and in the community.
  • This semester Calvin’s art department began a celebration of its 50th anniversary. “Celebrating Fifty Years of Light” officially kicked off during Homecoming weekend and will culminate a year later in an October 2015 weekend full of activities.


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

  • From now through Dec. 20, the Center Art Gallery at Calvin presents “Tracing the Past: Edward Curtis and The North American Indian,” a tribute to the ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. The exhibition pairs original photogravures from Edward Curtis’ documentary project with Native American artifacts from the same era. The exhibition will be complemented by a series of films, lectures and more. For more details, including gallery hours, see
  • Advent begins Sunday, Nov. 30. In the words of our Worship Institute: “In Advent we hear the prophecies of the Messiah’s coming as addressed to us—people who wait for the second coming.” See the Worship Institute website for a fantastic guide to Advent and Christmas worship planning.
  • Calvin’s Student Senate is hoping to make the church search a little easier and has launched an online church directory that includes more than 100 area churches organized in alphabetical order by denomination. The directory also includes service times, website links, phone numbers and addresses and indicates whether the church offers transportation for students who need it. What a wonderful resource for our students.

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.

  • Campus Ministries includes more than 250 student leaders this year: nine worship apprentices, 90 worship team leaders, seven seminary interns, 55 Barnabas leaders, 24 prayer team leaders and 81 student bible study leaders. They have all undergone extensive training and are busy leading their peers.
  • A group of first- and second-year commuter students called “FirstTwo Commute” has been active in recent weeks, including participation in UnLearn Week, sporting events, Buck Fridays and more, plus a pizza dinner at dean of student development Bob Crow’s house followed by a trip to ArtPrize, a city-wide art competition and festival.
  • Our search for a new vice president for student life continues. Go online to see the opportunity profile, or to apply for the position or nominate someone.
  • The Broene Counseling Center has been increasing group therapy offerings over the past two years, based on research demonstrating the efficacy of groups for increasing resilience and thriving among college students. Students are reporting positive outcomes from participation.


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

  • Last month more than 100 students, faculty and staff gathered throughout the day to pray for our world. The event, co-sponsored by off-campus programs and campus ministries, included personal prayer and three short worship services. In addition many prayer resources were provided, including lists of things around the globe in need of prayer: the Ebola outbreak, the Syrian and Iraqi refugee crises, the conflict in Ukraine, protests in Hong Kong and the persecution of Christians in China, among others.

Alumni and parents

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

  • I had the opportunity to meet and interact with the Alumni Association Board in October, a group of 21 enthusiastic and energetic alumni from all over North America, representing many communities, vocations, cultures and grad years. I thank them for their efforts and invite you to see them here.
  • Likewise, I also met with the Calvin Parent Council last month, another talented group of Calvin advocates. I am grateful for the deep interest the council takes in the college and the willingness to serve as ambassadors.
  • At Homecoming I attended the Ambassadors Luncheon, where we honored two alumni, Silas Cheuk ’62 and Mike Mantel ’83, with the Distinguished Alumni Award. These men have been agents of renewal for Christ. You can nominate alumni for these awards and others online.


The enrollment management division is busy reaching out to students at hundreds of high schools, college fairs and youth organizations all around the world.

  • The work of our enrollment division, especially its personal touch, is incredibly valuable. Very little compares to a personal conversation when it comes to helping high school students make decisions about their college choice. A conversation between friends is perhaps even more valuable, and that’s where you come in. Do you know a current high school senior who would be a great asset to the Calvin community? Our challenge to you is to think of that one person and personally encourage him or her to consider Calvin through our ReCommend ONE program. Tell them your Calvin story, and help them see what God might have in store for them at Calvin.
  • Encourage your “one” to visit Calvin. Register for a Fridays at Calvin program on Nov. 14 or 21, or schedule an AnyDay Visit on another day. Travel assistance programs are available, so please don’t let cost stand in the way!
  • Finally, please remind high school seniors that they can apply for admission for free until Dec. 1 (Jan. 1 for international and transfer students).


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

  • Thanks to your support, Calvin recently received the Peak Performance Award from Reeher LLC for increasing Calvin Annual Fund dollars and donors during the same year. Can you help us reach that milestone in the coming fiscal year? Give to your passion at Calvin and be counted!


Follow the fall sports season and get ready for winter sports at

  • Although the winter season begins soon, our fall sports teams continue to compete and are doing so at a high level.
    • The nationally ranked men’s and women’s cross country teams recently hosted the MIAA championships and are seeking trips to the national championship meets in late November.
    • Our men’s golf team placed third in the MIAA fall standings and once again qualified for the MIAA spring tournament that determines the league’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA III Championships. Meanwhile the women’s golf team took fifth place in the MIAA fall standings.
    • A youthful women’s soccer team made a late-season push for the MIAA tournament, while the men’s soccer team moved into the national rankings and captured an unprecedented eighth consecutive MIAA regular season title with the NCAA III Tournament on the horizon.
    • Finally, in front of nearly 3,000 fans, the nationally ranked women’s volleyball team handed Hope its first defeat of the year last month and sought to continue that momentum into the NCAA III Tournament in November. Go Knights!
  • Members of our men’s golf team joined golfers from the Grand Valley State women’s team recently for an event to help out local youth, hosted by The First Tee of West Michigan. It was a nine-hole event featuring 15 participants of The First Tee paired up with the college golfers. Afterwards, participants, their families and the college golfers ate dinner together and discussed the year. The First Tee of West Michigan’s mission is “to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”

I composed This Square Inch while on a run around the campus. Whenever I compose this newsletter, I am always worried it comes across as self-congratulatory. It’s often easy to feel good about Calvin (amazing things are happening here), but we have our challenges as well, and our own frailties are never too far out of sight.

Still, as we serve our students, engage in scholarship and seek to be salt and light in a humble, rather than triumphal, manner, I am reminded of a quotation from the college’s namesake, John Calvin, who once said: “The gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. It cannot be grasped by reason and memory only, but it is fully understood when it possesses the whole soul and penetrates to the inner recesses of the heart.”

It is precisely because we are fallen that we must pray that the gospel should penetrate the mind, the whole soul and the inner recesses of our hearts. The gospel is a doctrine of life, for life. This wholehearted living is what we hope to daily model for our students, knowing that we depend on God’s grace as we reach out to touch the Kingdom of God.



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