September 2014

August is a quieter time on Calvin’s campus. Summer student research projects have wrapped up, most of the conferences we host have come and gone, and students have not yet begun to trickle back to campus.

I am learning, however, that a significant harbinger of the fall semester is the day our student leaders from athletics, student government, residence halls and the orientation team begin to gather with faculty and staff to map out the year ahead of us. It is a lively time.

This year Andrea and I had the opportunity to spend a few days with student leaders from our athletic teams as they learned to lead with eyes of faith. Key faculty and staff spent five days at the Gainey Ranch in Montana sharing wisdom with the student-athletes that will equip them to lead their teams well in the upcoming school year. It was a joy to witness great faculty interact with such promising young men and women.

On our second day there we sweated our way up the side of a mountain to get to a beautiful lake. I love to hike and thought I could keep up with these men and women. Halfway up the mountain I remembered that I am 47 years old, and they are the best athletes in Division III, so I slowed down and started acting my age.


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

  • The Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences at undergraduate institutions. For 2014 our Doug Vander Griend is one of just seven recipients nationwide of this prestigious award.
  • A pair of Calvin psychology professors has written a new textbook for introductory, college-level classes that already is receiving rave reviews. The book draws from the 50 years of classroom experience shared by Paul Moes and Donald Tellinghuisen and presents students with a coherent framework for considering psychology from a Christian perspective.
  • Lauren Merz spent the summer at the University of Michigan where she had a research fellowship at the Frankel Cardiovascular Center. She was involved in daily research on the mechanisms of genetic cardiomyopathies (diseases of the heart muscle), specifically those seen in patients with muscular dystrophy. Lauren is a Calvin kinesiology major with a biochemistry minor.


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

  • Our Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning sponsors a wonderful lecture series which kicked off on Sept. 4 with a talk on the disappearance of a Northwest Airlines flight in 1950 over Lake Michigan. It continues on Sept. 18 with “Made in the Mitten: Savoring Michigan’s Rich Foodie & Agricultural History.” Upcoming talks, all of which are free and open to the public, will look at such topics as biomedical research and China, media, and ministry. All programs are 12–1 p.m. in the Calvin Chapel.
  • The Bruce D. Dice Mineralogical Museum opens again this month with formal tours available. Located in North Hall, the museum is home to more than 300 mineral, meteorite and fossil specimens. Informal tours are available during open hours, while educational lectures on minerals, facilitated by faculty and/or staff, are available by request. Join the more than 5,000 people who have visited the museum since its opening in November 2012.

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.

  • I am pleased to announce that Cindy Kok, director of the Broene Counseling Center, will serve as the interim vice president of the Student Life division in 2014–2015. She completed her undergraduate degree at Calvin and went on to earn a master of social work from Michigan State University and then both a master’s and a PhD in psychology from Purdue. She has worked at the college since 2000 as a counselor in the Broene Counseling Center and has also taught as an adjunct professor of psychology. Since 2010 she has served effectively as director of Broene where she has proven to be a gifted leader with a passion for serving students and the confidence and respect of her colleagues across the college.
  • In both the Knollcrest and Commons dining halls students are finding a brand-new “destination dining” experience this fall, including authentic Mexican fare in the Taqueria, pizza and pasta at Emma & Charlie’s, foods from around the world at GLOBE and much more. I have eaten lunch there already and think that students will enjoy the great new recipes.
  • This year’s all-campus Bible study is on the book of James. Groups will meet in the dorms, our on-campus apartments, off-campus houses, local churches and partner colleges. LOFT (Living our Faith Together) sermons will follow the book of James, with week-by-week guides available on our website. Join us wherever you are, and let’s get ready to experience God’s word together.
  • We are hosting popular Christian artists Switchfoot and Gungor on Sept. 20, while the Sexuality Series kicks off the new year on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 with two talks by Kristyn Komarnicki.


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

  • Calvin College Spanish professor Ed Miller is working to bring forgotten Afro-Argentine newspapers to the public through a web archive. Written in the 1800s the newspapers gave a voice to the Afro-Argentine authors who were an oppressed minority. Senior English major Jessica Koranda helped Miller with the project this summer as a McGregor Scholar.
  • Calvin junior Linnea Venhousen, a psychology and social work major, spent the summer with 20 other college-aged women in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working to build relationships with women in the red light district.

Alumni and parents

I’ve enjoyed meeting alumni, parents and friends of Calvin this summer with visits upcoming to Colorado, New York, Florida and California. I hope you’re able to attend one of these events this fall. See

  • The Calvin Alumni Association annually honors two graduates with the Distinguished Alumni Award. This year Silas Cheuk ’62 and Mike Mantel ’83 will be the recipients, and they will receive their awards on Homecoming/Family Weekend (Saturday, Oct. 18 at noon in the Prince Center). I encourage you to attend. You can make reservations online for that luncheon and all of the Oct. 17–18 events.
  • Speaking of Homecoming, I’ll be hosting another “Town Hall” meeting on Homecoming Saturday, at 10 a.m. in the Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall. I’ll give an update on the college and will take questions from alumni, parents and friends who attend.
  • Alumni and parents are being represented and served by the Alumni Board and the Parent Council. I’ve met with both leadership groups in the past and will again in October. Special thanks to this year’s board executives Chris Wiesehan ’05 (Chicago), Scott Vandenberg ’94 (Lynden, Wash.) and Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom ’93 (Ann Arbor, Mich.); and parent council co-chairs Rick and Rhonda Spykman (Lafayette, Ind.).


Our team of admissions counselors is ready to hit the road and begin recruiting the incoming class for 2015. Calvin is also reaching out to 100,000 seniors through our Senior Search initiative.

  • Admissions counselors will journey to more than 25 states and 12 countries in the coming months to share Calvin’s story with prospective students and parents. The team includes counselors based at Calvin, but also regional admissions reps who live and serve in Los Angeles (Becky Kim), Chicago (Bart Tocci), West Africa (Patrick Owusu-Akyaw) and China (Jonathan Cady). Meet them on the road or online.
  • Our Senior Search initiative encourages students who are familiar with Calvin to apply soon, but it also reaches out to new student audiences who would find Calvin’s “heart and mind” education a tremendous opportunity. Note, too, that Calvin will waive the $35 application fee for students who submit their applications by Dec. 1, 2014 (U.S.) or Jan. 1, 2015 (international).
  • Please think about the students you know, and invite them to consider Calvin! ReCommend them to us, too, so that we can keep in touch. You are also invited to bring students to visit campus this fall! Please explore our many visit options.


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

  • Have you seen the new Calvin Annual Fund thank-you video? It’s a small gesture of gratitude on our part in response to your continued support. Please take two minutes to be thanked.
  • As another way to celebrate our donors, we have posted the Forever Faithful and Living Legacies lists. Forever Faithful includes supporters who have given for four consecutive fiscal years, while Living Legacies honors alumni supporters by dorm.
  • Are you thinking about hosting an event in the Grand Rapids area? Calvin offers several spaces, including the on-campus Prince Conference Center, Camp Waltman Lake in Pierson and the Ladies Literary Club in downtown Grand Rapids. Contact our events team at (616) 526-6280 or to get started!


The 2014–2015 seasons have begun with two fall squads (women’s soccer and women’s volleyball) nationally ranked in NCAA Division III pre-season polls. Follow all the action at

  • Kinesiology professor Brian Bolt, sponsored by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, convened a team of scholars, coaches and theologians on campus this summer to discuss how Christians should engage sport culture. Their Sport and Christianity group completed a “Declaration on Sport and the Christian Life”. They also were the subject of an appreciative article by Tom Krattenmaker in USA Today that looked at their effort in light of this past summer’s World Cup.

Move-in weekend is one of the most exciting times of the year, but it is also a reflective time for me. As I reflect this fall I am aware that the Creation is groaning, and the stones cry out for justice. This summer’s news has not been good. I started to make a list of all the countries in need of prayer for peace and then learned that in 2014 of the 162 countries tracked by the Institute for International Economics and Peace (representing 99.6% of the world’s population), only 11 countries in the world are free of violent conflict, a marked deterioration since 2007.

By any indicator it is clear that the world is desperately in need of Calvin graduates, women and men determined to think deeply, act justly and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal. As I pray for our students and my own children this fall, I pray that the psalmist’s prayer also will be their prayer: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” As Calvin students learn to dwell, to behold and to inquire, I have great hope for our future, remembering always that our world belongs to God.



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