February 2015

I have realized that my first two years at Calvin were pretty quiet in terms of campus emergencies. In contrast, the last two months have tested our emergency preparedness on four different occasions: one lockdown, two fires (one at our physical plant facility and one in a dining hall) and an anthrax threat at our mail center that turned out to be a hoax.

Providentially, Bill Corner, our director of campus safety, coordinated an emergency exercise for the college’s leadership team last October. This helped all of us understand what we needed to learn and where we needed to improve in the event of a true emergency. Indeed we were much better prepared than we would have been without this training.

We are thankful that none of the recent events resulted in physical harm to anyone, and we will continue to learn from each incident. Events such as 9/11, the shooting at Virginia Tech and others mean that society now expects a decentralized college with 5,000 people and hundreds of activities each day to become a well-coordinated, efficient, communicative command and control organization in the midst of any threat.

We continue to work to meet that expectation and to improve the capabilities of our staff, the safety of our facilities and our collaboration with local emergency resources to ensure a safe learning environment for all who step on to our campus.

Academics

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

  • Calvin student Thuy-Nhi Nguyen plans to be a physician’s assistant someday, but she spent this past summer researching birds, work that opened her eyes, and ears, to their wonder. “Everywhere I go, I hear their sounds now,” she told Spark magazine. Fellow researcher Leanna DeJong added that birds are “a pretty amazing part of God’s creation.” Both students worked with Calvin biology professor Darren Proppe.
  • The annual Book of the Year awards from Christianity Today included Calvin philosophy professor James K.A. Smith’s How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor, named Book of the Year in the Christianity and Culture category. Smith’s book had its genesis in a senior seminar for Calvin philosophy majors.
  • Calvin sociology professor Mark Mulder and Davidson’s Gerardo Marti are leading a three-year exploration of Latino Protestant congregations and their worship practices. By the time the project is completed in 2017, Mulder expects that it will generate doctoral dissertations, books, peer-reviewed journal articles, popular articles in religiously based periodicals and more.
  • The work of biology professor Amy Wilstermann and her students was featured in a Grand Rapids Press story that covered a visit they made to a local elementary school where the Calvin team helped 40 kindergarten and first-grade students learn more about the science of cancer.

Community

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

  • Sophomore Cameron Kritikos was featured on FOX 17 in Grand Rapids for his work starting Calvin’s chapter of the Food Recovery Network. Twice a week Calvin students gather leftover food from the dining halls and deliver it to a local organization that feeds those in need.
  • Communication arts and sciences professor Chris Smit was honored by Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell with a Champion of Diversity Award. Smit is spearheading this spring’s DisArt Festival, which hopes to change perceptions about disability, one work of art at a time.
  • Just a reminder that though the annual January Series has concluded you can revisit many of the talks on our website. You also can watch daily chapels, on-campus worship services, lectures and more live or archived via our Livestream channel. See http://new.livestream.com/calvin-college for weekly happenings on the Calvin campus.

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.

  • Last month Residence Life sponsored the annual Kill-a-watt event which challenges our students to decrease their energy consumption and learn more about creation care. Many students certified their rooms by taking an online assessment which evaluated the sustainability of their living routines. At the kickoff I had a chance to speak with students about the ways in which our Christian walk compels us to care for creation.

International

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

Alumni and parents

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

  • It was a pleasure for me to participate in the Calvin-Hope men’s basketball rivalry from one of the 70 viewing sites coast-to-coast this year. I was in Bradenton, Fla., taking in the Calvin victory with 140 alumni, parents and friends. It is amazing to witness the support for Calvin in so many locations! You can find photos from many of the viewing parties on the alumni association’s Facebook page.
  • Our C Club, an organization for alumni athletes at Calvin, again is hosting a “Traditions Game” (at which we honor past Calvin Knights), and this year we will pay tribute to the 1995–1997 women’s soccer teams which collectively posted a 52-5-3 record. Come acknowledge them at halftime of the 3 p.m. men’s basketball game vs. Trine on Saturday, Feb. 14, in Van Noord Arena or watch online at calvinknights.com.
  • Our alumni travel program has been very well-received by parents, church members, friends of Calvin and more. Upcoming trips to Israel and Sweden are sold out, but exciting experiences remain for South Africa, Peru and England.

Enrollment

“Be our guest.” The enrollment division continually extends this invitation to high school students and parents, encouraging them to visit Calvin for a day or for a weekend.

  • A visit to campus is the highest impact factor in a prospective student’s college decision. What can you do? Please inform your friends and family about the visit options below. Consider taking advantage of Calvin’s group visit travel assistance programs: pack up the minivan and take a bunch of students to Fridays at Calvin on our dime through our generous travel assistance program.
  • Upcoming visit opportunities:

Resources

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

  • Support Calvin today by giving through a new interactive website. At calvincollege.givecorps.com, you can choose between giving to the Calvin Annual Fund to support every student, every day; the Calvin Energy Recovery Fund to increase energy efficiency on campus; or Service-Learning Center spring break trips, to help students make an impact in—and be impacted by—communities around the country.

Athletics

Follow all of our teams at calvinknights.com.

  • Our women’s basketball team just kept on rolling in January and as of press time for This Square Inch was undefeated overall and in conference play. Coach John Ross’ Knights survived a tough test in Holland in mid-January, escaping Hope’s fieldhouse with a last-second victory to stay unbeaten.
  • Recent Calvin College graduate Nicole Michmerhuizen won the NCAA’s Top 10 Award, the second individual in Calvin athletics history to receive the honor (Lisa Winkle received it in 2007). The award recognizes former student-athletes for their success on the fields and courts, in the classroom and in the community.
  • The New York Times covered the first Calvin-Hope men’s basketball game of the season, an 88-64 Calvin victory. They described a rivalry “doused in religion” and traced some of its long history. It’s a great read, and you can find it online.
  • Our men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams had a great start to the season with key conference wins and excellent performances in both individual events and relays. Freshman Abby Van Harn and junior Mitch Schroder both were named MIAA swimmers of the week in January.
  • Calvin men’s ice hockey is off to its best start in several years and hopes to continue that momentum into post-season play. During Christmas break coach Mike Petrusma, senior forward Brent Harris and sophomore defenseman Austin Kath got a chance to travel to Austria, Italy, Slovenia and Germany, taking on a variety of professional teams as part of an All-Star team for which Petrusma served as head coach.

We often live our lives trying to maximize the control of our own reality and circumstances. In our recent campus emergencies I found myself in the midst of an interesting paradox: trying to assert control over a situation and surrender control to God and others. This paradox is also what we teach our students: master your subject of study and learn that love, obedience, moral rigor and God’s grace come when we surrender our need to control.

One of my good friends, Whitworth professor Jerry Sittser, came to campus last month to deliver our final January Series presentation. In “Adversity and Spiritual Formation,” he provided a powerful reminder of a truth that most of us would rather avoid: suffering is the training ground that deepens Christian character. Human suffering reminds us we are not in control. It has the capacity to push us into an abyss of bitterness, despair and anger, or we can receive God’s grace and be formed anew.

We know that our world belongs to God, yet we know, too, that it can be a dangerous place. Suffering is often an inevitable element of the human journey. As Jerry reminds us in A Grace Disguised: “But life here is not the end. Reality is more than we think it to be. There is another and greater reality that envelops this earthly one. Earth is not outside heaven, as the philosopher Peter Kreeft wrote; it is heaven’s workshop, heaven’s womb.”

Michael

 

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