March 2015

March Madness is what the NCAA calls its Division I basketball tournament. Well, at Calvin we have our own version of March Madness this year as a result of an unprecedented winter sports season for the Knights. For the first time in Calvin history all of our varsity winter sports claimed MIAA championships in 2015 and now have high hopes for the post-season. The women’s basketball team ended the regular season with a perfect 26-0 record. Men’s basketball finished the regular season atop the MIAA standings and was 19-6 overall. Women’s swimming and diving just edged Hope College at the championship meet to win a record 11th straight title, and the men’s swimming and diving team won its second straight championship by nearly 200 points. If all this wasn’t enough, the Calvin men’s hockey team clinched a berth in the ACHA Division III national tournament for the first time since 2008. Our winter sports have certainly given us much to cheer about!

Academics

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

  • Biochemistry professor Brendan Looyenga teaches and conducts research with undergraduate students at Calvin and conducts Parkinson’s disease research at the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids. He recently received a $295,939 grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health for a three-year project that will include Calvin students and focus on cancer, Parkinson’s and autism research.
  • Susan Felch, an English professor and director of the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, spent four weeks at the Huntington Library in California as a recipient of the Mayers Fellow award. She is working on a critical edition of William Tyndale’s The Obedience of a Christian Man and was able to study several 16th-century editions of this book at the Huntington.

Enrollment

At this time of year, an important part of my work is talking with admitted students who are making their final decisions about Calvin. With each conversation, I am delighted and humbled by the caliber and character of these potential students and hope that each one will choose Calvin.

  • Here is a snapshot of the upcoming admissions events that are on my calendar:
    • Andrea and I will open DeWit Manor on four different occasions, welcoming dozens of admitted students and their parents from several West Michigan communities.
    • On March 12, I will join Calvin faculty and staff at “A Night with Calvin at the Chicago History Museum,” an event for both admitted and prospective students and their families from the greater Chicago area.
    • On March 17 and 18, I will be in southern California, joining our regional admissions rep in hosting evening receptions for prospective and admitted students and their families.
  • I look forward to each event and consider it a gift to connect with these highly qualified students who are seriously considering Calvin and whose gifts and talents will enrich this community.
  • Being a Calvin Ambassador isn’t just a job for the president. Please consider how you, through a quiet word of encouragement or by hosting an event, can help promote Calvin’s education of the heart and mind.

Community

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

  • Michelle Loyd-Paige, my friend and our dean for multicultural affairs and interim executive associate to the president for diversity and inclusion, is the recipient of the 2015 Floyd B. Skinner Justice Award, one of 13 Giants awards given out each year in Grand Rapids to African American leaders making a difference in our community.
  • During Interim students in history professor Kate Van Liere’s research methods class worked with the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) to discover the history behind some of the museum’s collection of over 200,000 objects. They presented their own proposals for new museum exhibits to the museum board and curatorial staff and already their work is being incorporated into the GRPM’s online database.
  • Calvin is one of just 361 campuses across the country to earn honors as a leader in community engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as campuses that are “improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities and revitalizing their civic and academic missions.”

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.

  • Concern about the mental health of college students is on the rise nationwide, along with an increased awareness of suicide risk on college campuses. To equip an effective and prepared safety network of caring individuals across campus to support struggling students, our Broene Counseling Center provides suicide prevention training for faculty, staff and student leaders several times a year.
  • Our Upperclass Task Force sponsored an event, held at a local neighbor’s home, called “Are College Students Good Neighbors?” The focus for the night was to invite neighbors and students to talk about when and why things work well, when and why things go poorly and what advice would neighbors have for our students.
  • During February, residence life staff completed the annual selection process for resident assistants (RAs) for the upcoming academic year. More than 170 students submitted applications for roughly 70 positions, a five-year high for application numbers. The process is competitive, and the work of RAs is integral to healthy, safe and vibrant Christian communities. Selection will continue in March and April for a host of other student volunteer leadership roles.

Alumni and parents

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

  • I’m getting ready for another CalvinNation trip and will be in Anaheim on March 17 and Pasadena on March 18, meeting prospective students and their families. I’d be grateful if you would spread the word to anyone you think might be interested in the education we offer at Calvin. Please contact our regional admissions counselor Becky Kim at (616) 647-7644 or rk28@calvin.edu to register or for more details.
  • Join us at the Calvin Spring Classic 5k and Karen Muyskens Family Fun Run on Saturday, April 25 for the 25th anniversary of a wonderful community event that draws more than 1,300 participants and raises dollars for Calvin student scholarships. See www.calvin.edu/classic.
  • We’re already planning our May 22–23 Commencement ceremonies, a highlight of the college calendar. There is a plethora of information at www.calvin.edu/commencement.

International

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

  • Herb Fynewever, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, presented a seminar entitled “Science Teaching as Listening and Responding” at Kathmandu University in Nepal in late January as part of his seven-month Fulbright Senior Scholar grant. He is teaching general chemistry at Kathmandu University and researching culture, teaching and student-instructor interaction.
  • Our 28th annual Symposium on Worship included people from not just around the continent, but indeed from around the globe with more than 100 attendees coming to town from outside of North America. The 2015 attendees included pastors, artists, musicians, teachers, youth leaders, church educators, congregational elders and board members, justice advocates, missionaries, professors and many more.

Resources

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

  • Think small gifts don’t matter? Last year, Calvin Annual Fund gifts of $50 or less totaled $230,929.53. That can cover: One year of Streetfest + One year of the campus-wide Bible study + One year of a dorm’s electricity + One year of swim and dive team expenses + Three Calvin Theatre Company productions (with money to spare—supporting every student, every day!). Make your $10, $25 or $50 gift to make a BIG difference today at calvin.edu/go/annualfund.

Athletics

Follow all of our teams at calvinknights.com. Note that in addition to our traditional winter sports we also have in action right now tennis, indoor track and field, and lacrosse!

  • Calvin College senior Jordan Brink was named to the All-District (VI) men’s basketball team and then earned a nod as a second-team Capital One Academic All-American, becoming just the fourth player in men’s basketball history at Calvin so honored. He also was named the 2015 MIAA MVP. The Dyer, Ind., native averages almost 20 points and six rebounds per game and recently moved into ninth place on the all-time Calvin career scoring list.
  • Calvin forward Breanna Verkaik, who led the Knights to the MIAA championship, the conference tournament championship and the first unbeaten regular season in school history, was named the MIAA’s Most Valuable Player in the vote of the league’s coaches. She becomes the second member of her family to earn MIAA women’s basketball Most Valuable Player honors, joining her older sister, Carissa, who became the first player in MIAA history to win four consecutive MVP awards in 2010–13 for Calvin. In addition, Verkaik has been named to the All-MIAA first team for the second straight year. She is joined on the All-MIAA first team by teammate Kayla Engelhard.
  • The Calvin women’s swimming and diving team clinched its 11th consecutive MIAA championship and had six All-MIAA honorees: Alayna Gallegos, Klara Oh, Megan Schroder, Lexi Scott, Abby VanHarn and Erika Waugh (a senior who earned all-league accolades for the fourth straight year).
  • Calvin junior Johnson Cochran was the subject of a nice Grand Rapids Press feature story last month that looked at the ways in which the two-time All American swimmer tried to stay in shape while spending the semester studying in Hungary. In February, Johnson was named the conference’s MVP and led the Knights to the league championship. He was joined on the All-MIAA team by Skyler Fish, Eli Holstege, Caleb Meindertsma, Mitch Schroder, Brett Stoughton, Aaron Venema and Tanner Vincent.

Correction

Perhaps it is fitting that this spring Lent has converged with our campus-wide Bible study on Sabbath keeping. The Worship Sourcebook from our Calvin Institute of Christian Worship describes Lent as a period of preparation and a time for us as Christians to renew our devotion and readiness to mark the death and resurrection of our Savior.

I had a chance a few weeks ago to reflect on such themes with a group of Calvin students. I think we were all amazed at the realization that so many of the things that are so good for us—rest, healthy food, exercise, worship (to name a few)—also are so hard to habituate. Indeed, we lamented the many temptations ubiquitous in modern life that seek to pull us away from these good things.

Lent can be a season when we confess the things in our lives that have such a powerful hold on us, a grip that can only be released when we turn our ears and our eyes to our Lord who calls out to us and says simply: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

May that rest be yours this Lenten season and beyond. Thank you for your care for Calvin College and for your prayers for us. This continues to be a rich place for living and learning, and I am grateful for your part in it.

Michael

 

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