August 2015

I wrote the open for the print edition of This Square Inch at a cabin in northern Michigan, pondering Psalm 96 where the fields are described as jubilant and all of the trees of the forest sing for joy. I am writing this new introduction for the online edition of This Square Inch in Grand Rapids where I am pondering the death of rising Calvin College junior Chase Froese.

Chase drowned while swimming in Lake Michigan in northwest Indiana on Friday, July 31. While Chase was only with us at Calvin for a couple of years, I told her parents that she exemplified everything we could want in a student. She was a highly engaged learner, admired by her professors in philosophy and business, loved by her tight group of friends and warmly regarded by her supervisors and colleagues in the communications and marketing department. She was a leader on campus and had an infectious smile. The realization that she will not be with us in the fall leaves us at a loss.

In the print edition I noted that as I start my fourth year at Calvin the impact of life in this community becomes ever more intense for me. I continued: “Maybe the nature of a vibrant Christian community like Calvin more easily lends itself to the deep spiritual and emotional connections that increase both the joys and sorrows of communal life together.”

I wrote that before Chase’s death. Now, even as we struggle as a community to come to grips with what happened on July 31, we also lean on those spiritual and emotional connections. We lean on God and each other. As the father of two daughters close in age to Chase, her death hits especially close to home. Yet the strength of her parents gives me hope and courage too. When her body was recovered, Chase’s dad Greg Froese said this: “Chase is now coming home. Chase is alive with her living God. That's what gives us strength.”

May that strength be with us as we mourn Chase’s death and celebrate her life. She was a valued member of the Calvin community, and she will be missed. But we draw on the promises that have been made to us, and we affirm, with the saints of old, that we belong body and soul, in life and in death, to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Academics

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

  • The Journal of Markets & Morality is a peer-reviewed academic journal published twice a year. The most recent issue includes all of the articles written by Calvin business professors for the Symposium on Common Grace in Business that we hosted on campus last October, an event that brought members of the faith, academic and business communities together to explore and consider Abraham Kuyper's works on common grace and their application to various business disciplines.
  • The second title in the Calvin Shorts series has just been released by the Calvin College Press. The Church and Religious Persecution, by Kevin den Dulk (Calvin College, Henry Institute) and Robert Joustra (Redeemer University College, Centre for Christian Scholarship), examines the nature and scope of religious persecution worldwide, explores the response of the church, and proposes steps church leaders and members can take to stand up for religious freedom and build a faith-based movement against persecution. See additional materials related to the topic, including a case study.
  • This summer, we are following grads from the Class of 2015 as they continue their world-engaging journeys around the corner and across the globe. Jenny LaJoye ’15 is a folk pop singer/songwriter who recently released the album Vapor and is heading to California this summer to help plant a church.

Community

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

  • Michelle Loyd-Paige, our new executive associate to the president for diversity and inclusion, and Eric Washington, history professor and director of our African and African Diaspora Studies program, wrote a new book for the Christian Reformed Church's Office of Race Relations called We've Come This Far by Faith. The book, said Esteban Lugo, director of the CRC's Office of Race Relations, will help churches move forward to discuss and address the many matters of race that they face in today's world. The book follows on the heels of a prior book from the CRC, called Latinos: The Next Wave, by Calvin board of trustees member Pedro Avilés. Kudos to Pedro, Michelle and Eric who are living and leading with courageous conviction on these important issues.
  • The Calvin business department has a new student-led organization that will launch this fall and will pair female students studying business with women business leaders within the greater Grand Rapids community. The organization will encourage students to learn from and with mentors as they investigate, study and navigate the business world. In addition our Calvin Young Women's Business Institute brought 20 high school women to campus last month for a three-day program that saw them work, network and learn alongside faculty, students and local business leaders, representing Amway, Wolverine World Wide, Steelcase, Meijer and more.

Alumni and parents

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

  • It is the middle of summer, yet planning for Homecoming and Family Weekend 2015 is in full swing. The dates are October 23–24, and we will be providing a variety of events, concerts, athletic contests, reunions and learning opportunities for Calvin alumni, parents and friends. Andrea and I will be on hand to greet you at the tailgater before our excellent women's volleyball team takes the court. We're also excited about a first-ever Saturday evening gala honoring alumni award recipients.
  • The alumni association has announced the 2015 Distinguished Alumni recipients, graduates who model the words of our mission statement and "think deeply, act justly and live whole-heartedly as Christ's agents of renewal in the world." For 2015 we are honoring Dr. Kim Olthoff ’82, the Donald Guthrie professor of surgery and department chief in the division of transplantation at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, and Dr. Steven Wiersma ’83, country director/Uganda for the Center for Global Health of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more about the Distinguished Alumni Award.
  • Parents and grandparents: if you're looking for a fun way to encourage your Calvin student(s), a "student treat" from our parent relations office is a great option. The deadline for a "year of treats" is September 9, so take a look if you're interested.
  • Two academic departments are having special reunions this year: the art and art history department on October 2–3 (during ArtPrize) and the engineering department on Homecoming weekend, October 23–24. Graduates of those departments, do consider attending!

Resources

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

  • The Dorm Challenge is over, the numbers have been tallied, and the wire-to-wire champion is...Noordewier-VanderWerp. Congratulations, NVW! You’ve earned next year’s residents an awesome reward, to be announced at Chaos Day 2015. To everyone who participated, thank you! You represented your dorms well, and together, your gifts will have a huge impact on all Calvin’s students.

International

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

  • The annual Calvin Symposium on Worship is a three-day conference sponsored by our Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) and the Center for Excellence in Preaching. The 2016 presenter list already includes numerous well-known North American leaders as well as a number of notable speakers with experience in international contexts, including: Carlos Colón, a composer, liturgist and native of El Salvador who now serves as coordinator for worship initiatives at Baylor University; Charles Kim, Korean ministry coordinator and ethnic ministry leader for the Christian Reformed Home Missions; and Anne Zaki, who teaches at the Evangelical Presbyterian Seminary, Cairo, Egypt, and serves as resource development specialist for the Middle East for the CICW.

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.

  • We have the first two Passport sessions in the books with one left to go (at the end of August). Passport is a day-and-a-half summer program designed our new students and their adult family members, a place to learn about Calvin through activities and creative workshops that highlight the range of opportunities here. We look forward to welcoming all of our new students to campus in a few short weeks!
  • We had the great joy last month of welcoming Sarah Visser, a Calvin graduate, to campus as our new vice president for student life. She had been chair and assistant professor in the department of leadership and organizational psychology at Azusa Pacific University in California and was the program director of the Master of Arts in Leadership.

Enrollment

Calvin is a dedicated community of faith and discovery, a place that offers students from around the globe the habits of heart and mind that will equip them to make a difference in the world.

  • Calvin is continuing the important work of extending our reach into new audiences, to expand our campus culture and to become a more diverse community. This year, the percentage of racial and ethnic minority students on campus was 13 percent of our student body, and we are on a similar trajectory for fall 2015.
  • One key effort in this ongoing project is the Entrada Scholars Program. In July, the office of pre-college programs welcomed 72 high school students to campus for the Entrada Scholars Program. Entrada introduces highly motivated, highly gifted, under-represented minority high school juniors and seniors to college life. The 2015 scholars came to study alongside Calvin students and faculty in courses such as biology, English, history and philosophy. Each Entrada Scholar leaves with great friends, Calvin memories, college credit and, if they choose to enroll at Calvin, a $4,000 scholarship.

Athletics

The fall 2015 sports season starts on September 1 with women’s soccer at Wheaton. Follow all of our teams, their schedules, their stories and more at calvinknights.com.

  • The Calvin College men's and women's swimming and diving teams once again received academic awards from the College Swim Coaches Association of America. Both teams received the CSCAA Team Scholar All-America Award. The Team Scholar All American award is presented to college and university swimming and diving teams who have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

As we get ready to welcome almost 1,000 new students to campus, I am reminded of a sermon I heard a few weeks ago by John Ortberg. He set up three chairs on a stage to represent the followers of Jesus from the past, the present and the future. Ortberg observed that many churches are “two-chair churches,” focused on preserving the past and the present at the expense of future believers, or focused on the present and the future without much regard for the rich theological traditions of the past.

Ortberg challenged his own church to be a three-chair church: one that recognizes the heritage and tradition of the past, the mission of the present and its responsibility for the future.

Calvin College is not a church, but our purpose and mission is well-aligned with the purpose and mission of a three-chair church. Indeed in our new students we see the children of Calvin alumni alongside those who are the first in their family to find the college. Both groups affirm and encourage us because they indicate that our mission endures and sparks the imagination of those who are just getting to know us.

Psalm 78 calls us to remember that “we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” We look forward to telling this story again in the year ahead.

Michael

 

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