June/July 2015

The Calvin community can scarcely contain its joy during the celebrations of Commencement weekend. Every day during the academic year we work in numerous ways to equip our students “to think deeply, act justly and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.” A Socratic dialogue in the classroom, an advising appointment over coffee, an apprenticeship in a lab, discussions around a tough issue with a residence hall director and service-learning around the corner or around the world all serve as the building blocks of a Calvin education. Commencement is the culmination of these labors.

Indeed at Commencement 2015 we were treated to a stirring student address by Jonathan Eigege who challenged all of us to remember “How (not) to Change the World.” And Fuller Seminary President Mark Labberton contradicted the prevailing commencement clichés common in this season as he artfully sent our graduates into this broken world with this message: “Go ye and be finite.” God was glorified, and we were edified by the signs of grace all around us on that day ... and perfect spring weather didn’t hurt either.

Academics

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

  • Last month we celebrated the 2015 recipient of our Presidential Award for Exemplary Teaching, associate professor of art and art history Jo-Ann Van Reeuwyk. Said Van Reeuwyk: “Teaching continues to be my reason for being, and to be able to teach in a Christ-infused, Reformed setting is truly exciting.”
  • Calvin professor David Noe recently received a grant from the Society for Classical Studies to help offset the cost of a two-day Latin conference to be hosted by the classics department in the fall. The sessions will be taught entirely in Latin, equipping learners with basic vocabulary to help communication and understanding.
  • Calvin biology professor David Warners and former students Christopher Bouma and Emily Huizenga had their research article, “A Reconciliation Ecology Approach to Suburban Landscaping: Biodiversity on a College Campus,” published in the latest issue of The Michigan Botanist.
  • In late April Calvin hosted the Conscious Persons Project, organized in part by Calvin professor of philosophy Kevin Corcoran. David Chalmers, director of the Centre for Consciousness at Australian National University and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University, gave the opening and closing lectures and was one of the dozen scholars from around the world, many from top-ranked graduate programs in philosophy, who came together to discuss topics of consciousness. Also at the table was Calvin philosophy student, Paul Manata, who co-authored a paper with Corcoran that the duo presented at the workshop.

Community

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

  • In early June we gathered to celebrate the immense contributions of Calvin staff members. We honored a quintet of retirees—Susan Camp, Clayton Meyer, Andy DeVries, Joyce Steigenga and Glenn Triezenberg—and we also gave out a quartet of awards to staff members. These included the Creativity & Innovation Award to Romery Diaz, residence halls line custodian; the Unsung Hero Award to Matt Kucinski, assistant director of media relations; the Spoelhof Mission Award to Dan Vandersteen, Broene Center counselor; and the Diversity & Inclusion Award to Caroline Chadderdon, assistant to academic deans.
  • A research study headed up by our Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning continues at Holland Christian schools. Researchers from the college, including the education and economics departments, are exploring how rapid technological change interacts with the Christian goals, beliefs and practices of a faith-based school. The hope is to generate insights and resources that can provide guidance for all Christian schools.
  • Our department of art and art history partnered with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and others to host the 2015 Christians in the Visual Arts national conference at Calvin in mid-June. Almost 350 attendees took in plenary sessions, keynote lectures, panel discussions, a Saturday-evening arts festival, Sunday worship and more. The conference also featured two special art exhibitions that remain on campus until August 7: a juried exhibition featuring 41 works of art by 24 contemporary Christian artists and an exhibition featuring new work by six Calvin faculty members. See www.calvin.edu/centerartgallery/exhibitions for more details.

Alumni and parents

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

  • What does the epic poem “The Faerie Queene” have to do with Commencement? The parents of graduating seniors know after attending their annual breakfast during Commencement, and you can too by listening to professor of English (and parent of a graduate) Debra Rienstra’s wonderful reflection titled “Up and Down the Mountain.”
  • The alumni association honored professor of chemistry emeritus Ken Piers with the Faith and Learning Award for his patient teaching of organic chemistry—purportedly the most difficult course at the college—for more than 40 years. Longtime Calvin volunteer Ralph Luimes ’83 was thanked for his dedication to his alma mater as he received the Outstanding Service Award. Interestingly, Piers once coached Luimes on Calvin’s hockey team!
  • The Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning (CALL) is offering its first-ever, multi-day experience to all persons ages 50 and over. CALL@ArtPrize on October 3-8 will host guests at the Prince Conference Center and provide guided visits to the more than 1,500 pieces of public art throughout the city. More information at www.calvin.edu/call.

Resources

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

  • Think back on your own Calvin experience. What memories stand out? The awkward beginnings of lifelong relationships? The “Did I really do that?” late-night adventures? Many of those formational moments happened in one place: your dorm. Will you help ensure that future Calvin students get to share those experiences? Take the Dorm Challenge now, declare your loyalty and pass on a life-changing gift to the next generation at www.calvin.edu/go/dormchallenge.
  • We are celebrating a $500,000 grant for our 100-acre Ecosystem Preserve and the Bunker Interpretive Center from The Harry A. & Margaret D. Towsley Foundation. The funds will support land management and educational programming. The preserve, founded in 1985, and the interpretive center, completed in 2004, have collectively welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to campus. In addition, nearly 20 Calvin programs study or research in the preserve annually and, over the years, more than 600 students have been employed at either the preserve or the interpretive center.

International

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

  • Pre-health adviser Larry Gerbens helped organize the inaugural Medical Mission Symposium, an event that featured keynote speakers David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and Glenn Geelhoed, founder of Mission to Heal. It also included several West Michigan medical practitioners who highlighted both their local work and their medical missions to other countries such as Nepal, El Salvador and Malawi.

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.

  • As summer continues we also look ahead to the fall: both to the arrival of a new class and to the return of current students. For all of the details about living on campus, including how roommates get matched, facts and figures about the residence halls, a video, photos and more, see the residence life website.

Enrollment

Calvin offers students the knowledge, skills and habits of heart and mind that equip them to make a difference in the world. As part of this, our tradition tells us we must be continually reforming, evaluating and strengthening the programs and practices that help us best fulfill our mission.

  • The Calvin community, on campus and beyond, has been instrumental in the ongoing process of developing Calvin’s brand. In workshops on campus and online, we have together created storylines that help us better tell the Calvin story. We are currently in the process of crafting our visual identity, including a new logo and photography and layout options. We consider this process an important component in the college’s shared goals of enrollment and retention and look forward to sharing storylines and visuals online later this summer.

Athletics

For the second time in three years and 10th time in school history, Calvin has won the MIAA Commissioner’s Cup. The Commissioner’s Cup award is based on the cumulative performance of each member school in the league’s 20 sports for men and women. Congratulations to all of our student athletes on a great year! Read all about it, and follow all of our teams, at calvinknights.com.

  • The 2015 recipients of our highest athletic honors, the Beré Memorial Award and the Kay Tiemersma Athletic Award, are Jordan Brink of Dyer, Ind., and Breanna Verkaik of Holland, Mich. These awards are given to the top senior male and female student athlete based on athletic ability, scholastic standing, and character and leadership. Brink, a four-year member of the Calvin men’s varsity basketball team, was a double major in business marketing and sports management, a regular member of the Calvin Dean’s List and a two-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll. Verkaik, a four-year member of both the Calvin women’s basketball and women’s track and field teams, graduated with a degree in nursing and was a regular member of the Calvin Dean’s List and the MIAA Academic Honor Roll.
  • Our men’s and women’s track and field teams wrapped up their seasons in late May at the national championships. The men’s team sent seniors Ben de Waal Malefyt and Steven Haagsma, junior Ethan Anderson and freshman Ethan Valentine. On the women’s side were seniors Sarah Danner and Kate Ardinger, junior McKenzie Diemer and sophomore Lauren Strohbehn. A trio of Knights earned All-American honors: Valentine in the 400 with a fifth-place finish after being seeded just 14th in the event, de Waal Malefyt with a personal best in the discus for a sixth-place finish and Danner, determined to avenge her 2014 finish in the 10,000 meter run, when she was 19th, did so, finishing eighth.

The media and much of our culture is focused on the private goods provided by higher education. Students, alumni, politicians and parents often press us to explain how we advance the good of each individual in return for the tuition being paid. This is a fair question, and I believe Calvin has excellent responses, including what we witness in the lives of our graduates. But lost in this conversation can be the public goods provided to culture by higher education. At Calvin we believe that the college has an obligation to be a public witness to what we have learned and believe. Our public witness is grounded in the cultural mandate and great commission as our charge from scripture, and it is manifest by the collective influence of our graduates, in the scholarship disseminated by our faculty and in public service to the community.

As part of this public witness Calvin College Press just released its first title in the Calvin Shorts series. Emerging Adulthood and Faith, by Calvin sociology professor Jonathan Hill, explores the idea that the church is losing the next generation. Hill interprets the sociological data, challenging common assumptions and drawing conclusions that are counterintuitive, complex and encouraging. Calvin Shorts is a series for the curious-minded who are interested in learning the latest from across the arts and sciences. Each book examines a single topic, untangles misconceptions and suggests ways to think and act faithfully. Designed to be read in an evening or during a flight, Calvin Shorts are available in soft cover from your favorite bookstore or online retailer and in ebook format. In fact, I just downloaded a copy of Hill’s book to my Kindle as I prepare for my next flight. As you read, discuss and recommend this series to others, you also respond to Christ’s charge to “be my witnesses.”

Michael

 

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