April 2015

I am writing to you from an airplane, reflecting on a very hopeful collection of experiences from the month of March, including a spring break trip to California, where I joined Calvin worship apprentices for visits to Christian schools, admissions events and time with alumni and friends of the college. I thoroughly enjoyed both being led in worship and hearing our students’ stories as we traveled around the greater Los Angeles area.

High school seniors are making college decisions for next year, so it was great for prospective students in California to talk to our worship apprentices about their experiences at Calvin. Prominent themes from our students included courageous learning through the eyes of Christian faith, Christian faculty who take the time to know their students, and the cultivation of mind and heart in and out of the classroom. It was inspiring, encouraging and humbling to listen to the influence that a Calvin education is having on this next generation of Christian leaders.

Academics

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

  • Corey Roberts recently became Calvin’s newest Fulbright Scholar. Next spring the German professor will use his award to study in Berlin, conducting research in archives and university libraries and completing a book manuscript. His work will focus on the narrative tradition of novels and storytelling.
  • The Academic Bulletin is a regular newsletter from our provost’s office, and I always enjoy reading it. I was struck by a recent edition of the newsletter that included three short items about faculty activities at the college. First, news about a presentation by education professor David Smith on “Formative Practices for the Development of Intellectual Humility” at the 40th Annual Conference of the Association for Moral Education; second, mention of an article by psychology professor Julie Yonker called “The Spiritual Lessons of Emerging Adulthood,” for Christian Educators Journal; and third, a note that economics professor Kurt Schaefer is the new executive editor of the Faith and Economics journal. What terrific achievements, and what an abundance of talent we have among the Calvin faculty!
  • Our Center Art Gallery is hosting several exhibitions with a strong Calvin faculty component, including a ceramics show curated by professor Anna Greidanus, photography professor Jennifer Steensma Hoag’s sabbatical show and a photography exhibition at our downtown gallery, curated by professor Lisa Van Arragon. The first two shows opened in late March; the third opens on April 10. Each also will feature lectures that are free and open to all.

Community

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

  • Calvin was honored by Partners for a Racism Free Community (PRFC) as a Level II Partner for having successfully completed the PRFC Institutional Challenge to Achieve Racial Equity (ICARE) assessment process. Our Level II designation marks the second time in three years that we have been honored by PRFC for anti-racism efforts. In March 2012, Calvin gained level-one “Full Partner” designation at the end of a two-year process that included demonstration of anti-racism efforts in six categories.
  • Calvin recently was named to the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. Almost 200 Calvin graduates have made a difference as volunteers since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961.

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 thrilled that Sarah Visser will be our next vice president for student life. She currently serves as chair and assistant professor in the department of leadership and organizational psychology and as the program director of the Master of Arts in Leadership at Azusa Pacific University in California. She will begin her tenure at Calvin, her alma mater, on July 1, 2015.
  • The Upperclass Task Force hosted an event in early March called “Managing Your (Cyber) Image,” led by Dee Dee Honner of Calvin’s human resources department. Some 50 upperclass students attended a terrific, educational and illuminating presentation.
  • A recent article in the Grand Rapids Press drew attention to mental health concerns among college students nationwide, highlighting the work of the Broene Counseling Center in supporting our students.

International

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

  • When she was a Calvin student, some two decades ago, Anne Zaki thought something could be done to bring international and U.S. students together more, so she helped start Rangeela, an international talent show. This year Rangeela was again held in a sold-out CFAC auditorium on back-to-back nights, showcasing a variety of acts that represented the incredible diversity of the Calvin student body.

Alumni and parents

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

  • Have you been exercising this winter? I’ve been trying and now that spring has finally sprung here in West Michigan, I’m stepping up my prep for the annual Calvin Spring Classic 5k and Karen Muyskens Family Fun Run (this year to be held on Saturday, April 25). It’s the 25th anniversary of this community event that draws more than 1,300 participants and raises dollars for Calvin student scholarships.
  • CALL, the Calvin Academy of Lifelong Learning, has again topped the 2,000-member mark for annual memberships. This is an amazing testament to the skilled leadership of CALL—this year headed up by Corinne Kass—and also to the thirst for learning from our local seniors. There are more than 50 classes offered each semester, and it’s inspiring to see these seasoned learners mingle with our current students on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • I’m pleased to announce that the Calvin Alumni Association has named its 2015 Faith and Learning Award and Outstanding Service Award recipients. The Faith and Learning honor, presented to a retired Calvin faculty member for life-changing teaching, goes to Ken Piers of the chemistry department. The service award, given in gratitude for many years of supporting the college with time, talent and treasure, goes to Ralph Luimes ’83 of Caledonia, Ont. We are thankful for these gifted community members and look forward to congratulating them during Commencement Weekend.

Enrollment

In the U.S., April is often referred to as “tax time.” In the enrollment division, we call it “financial aid season,” the time of year when our financial aid staff is working full throttle, giving careful attention to every financial aid form received and every student or call that comes into our office.

  • At Calvin, we understand that every family’s situation is unique and deserves our best attention. The college continues to increase our financial aid and scholarship opportunities, working to help make a Calvin education manageable for as many students as possible. For new students, we began mailing financial aid award letters in mid-March; returning students will receive their financial aid packages via email starting in June. If you have questions about your Calvin financial aid awards, I encourage you to contact our financial aid office today and let our staff walk you through this process.
  • If you know someone who hasn’t applied for financial aid yet, encourage him or her to do so today! There is still financial aid available in many programs. To help students get an up-close look at the value of the Calvin experience, encourage them to visit or re-visit the college in the next few weeks. This can ease the pressure as they approach the May 1 college decision day.

Resources

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

  • In celebration of Earth Day later this month, join Calvin in creating an increasingly energy-efficient campus. We’re well on our way to reaching 100 donors to the Calvin Energy Recovery Fund by the end of the month. Will you be a hero for Calvin students and a champion for the stewardship of our natural resources?

Athletics

Follow all of our teams at calvinknights.com.

  • Spring sports are in full swing after successful southern sojourns during the college’s spring break, including forays to Florida for baseball, softball and both tennis teams and the annual excursion to Alabama for men’s and women’s track and field. The spring schedule can be unpredictable so stay tuned to the Calvin sports website for the latest in changes and cancellations.
  • Sophomore swimmer Brett Stoughton was honored in March with one of the NCAA’s Elite 89 awards, given to student-athletes who have reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in their sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among their peers. Stoughton is a finance major with a 4.0 GPA who qualified for the NCAAs in swimming in three events.
  • Junior swimmer Johnson Cochran was a two-time All-American at this year’s NCAAs, while teammate Caleb Meindertsma claimed honorable mention NCAA III All-America honors.
  • Calvin senior Jordan Brink, a business marketing and sports management double major, was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-America second team in late March. Brink also was named to the D3hoops.com All-America first team, while Calvin senior Breanna Verkaik was a D3hoops.com fourth-team All-American and a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-American after leading the Knights to a 30-1 overall record and the quarterfinals of the NCAA III Tournament.

I know you will be receiving this newsletter as Lent passes into the Easter season. Over the past several weeks I have been thinking about what it means to be a community characterized by the grace and truth embodied in Jesus Christ. It is far easier to be people of truth or people of grace, but it is much harder to be both. Some of us are people of truth, quite eager to tell others where they have strayed, but lacking a gracious spirit in the telling. Others of us seek to be abundant in grace, but at the expense of honesty about ourselves and others.

Interestingly enough, I find that I crave grace when others are dishing out truth, but forget grace when I have truth to tell. In this Season of Easter we are reminded that Christ’s death on the cross unites grace and truth in a loving and sacrificial act of atonement for me and for the world.

So with the Apostle Paul we proclaim the grace-filled truth that is the fountainhead of Calvin College’s mission: “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” May Christ bring you joy this Easter!

Michael

 

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