September 2015

Recently, as I slipped into a Van Noord Arena classroom to greet new faculty as they prepare for the year ahead, I was met by Kurt Schaefer, from our economics department, who asked me how many years I have been at Calvin. I paused for a second and then responded that this is my senior year. He wittily replied that he hoped I wouldn't be graduating any time soon. I am probably the only person living on campus who would see those words as a great encouragement!

Professor Schaefer serves as one of three fellows in our Teaching and Learning Network, joining art and art history professor Jo-Ann Van Reeuwyk and chemistry professor Crystal Bruxvoort as three outstanding professors who ably guide new faculty as they acclimate to teaching at Calvin. We are blessed to welcome to a new school year a great group of new faculty members who are joining us in the task of equipping our students to think deeply, act justly and live wholeheartedly as Christ's agents of renewal in the world.

Academics

Calvin prepares the heart and mind for rigorous inquiry, always seeking God's truth.

  • Calvin College is one of the nation's best institutions for undergraduate education, according to the Princeton Review which features the college in the recently published 2016 edition of its annual college guide, The Best 380 Colleges. Only about 15 percent of the nation's four-year colleges are included in the book which relies heavily on student surveys in forming each school's two-page profile. Calvin students highlighted their relationship with the faculty as a defining characteristic of a Calvin education. One nursing student said: "The professors are what makes this school." A biochemistry major added: "The professors are all very passionate about their field, and they pass that on to their students." And a literature major said: "The faculty-student relationship is probably one of my favorite parts of Calvin."
  • Our 2016 January Series lineup is set, and another great roster of speakers is slated to come to Calvin's campus in four months. One highlight promises to be a panel discussion with former Calvin professors George Marsden, Richard Mouw, Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff, each of whom will share a 10-minute talk on what has captured his heart during his academic career. Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, will speak on global public health and infectious disease; David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times, will speak on selflessness and success; and the list goes on.
  • Calvin communication arts and sciences professor William Romanowski gave a presentation this summer on "Protestant Responses to Hollywood, Censorship and Art Cinema" at a conference on "Protestantism on Screen" organized by the Muhlenberg Center for American Studies in Germany. The conference's goal was to examine how cinema has portrayed the Protestant Reformation and the rise and spread of Protestantism throughout Europe and the New World. Romanowski most recently authored Reforming Hollywood, an exploration of the long and varied efforts of Protestants to influence the film industry.

Community

Calvin fosters communal connections that inspire wonder, curiosity and action.

  • The Plaster Creek Green Team celebrated its third summer of engaging high school students in watershed restoration. The Green Team is an initiative of Plaster Creek Stewards and provides local teens an opportunity to both learn about the creek and to help restore it. Calvin students Deanna Geelhoed and Micah Warners worked alongside the group all summer and wrote about their experiences for The Rapidian.
  • Once again, Calvin will be enjoying a campus-wide Bible study in 2015–2016. This fall, over a 10-week period, we will be studying Isaiah, and Calvin chaplain Mary Hulst will be preaching through the book this fall at our on-campus, Sunday-evening LOFT (Living Our Faith Together) services. For study guides, or to watch the sermons, go to www.calvin.edu/faith.

Alumni and parents

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

  • We continue to work on a re-energized Homecoming and Family Weekend for October 23–24, and I hope to see many alumni, parents and friends on campus that weekend. Saturday will be full of action: the Maroon and Gold Gala at the Bissell Tree House on the John Ball Zoo campus; a "Failure Lab" where presenters help us learn by telling stories of failures they've experienced; an all-invited tailgater prior to watching our stellar women's volleyball and soccer teams play; and much more.
  • Many alumni have been contacted by Publishing Concepts, Inc. (PCI) as part of our alumni directory/data update project. This endeavor has already significantly improved the accuracy of our alumni information, which will benefit both Calvin and our alumni as we network in vocational and geographical areas. If you have not participated in the project, please call 1-866-558-0916 to talk to PCI reps who are working on Calvin's behalf. Click here for more information about the project.

Resources

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

  • Calvin College is made up of 4,000 students, hundreds of faculty and staff and dozens of buildings. Every year, students complete tens of thousands of assignments and projects, log thousands of hours of service-learning and travel hundreds of thousands of miles around the world.

    And to make it all possible, it takes a community of 17,500. Each year, 17,500 annual fund supporters keep Calvin affordable for students through financial aid. 17,500 supporters enable life-changing interim trips. 17,500 supporters make hands-on learning a reality, equip tomorrow's Christ-like leaders and cultivate courageous wonder in Calvin students.

    This year, we need 17,500 partners, alumni and friends to make Calvin possible. Be one.

International

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

  • French professor Vicki DeVries is directing our largest group ever to go on the Study in France program. She and 32 students left for Grenoble in late August to spend a semester at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes Françaises, part of the Université Stendhal. The Study in France program began in 2001, and this is the 11th such edition.

  • The Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, in partnership with Langham Partnership International, opened its doors this summer to the "Prophets' Chamber," a furnished apartment near Calvin College to house visiting scholars in theology from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Scholars have access to Hekman Library, opportunities to engage with other outstanding Christian scholars and ministry leaders for their research and writing, a stipend for groceries and an office at the Nagel Institute. The first guest was Leonid Mikhovich of Minsk Theological Seminary, Republic of Belarus, and the next will be William Mbuluku of Bangui Evangelical School of Theology, Central African Republic.

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 I wrote in the electronic edition of This Square Inch (TSI) about the death of Chase Froese in a tragic drowning accident. Her death came too late for the print edition, but we wanted to acknowledge her in the e-version of TSI. Now, this month, again too late for print, but just as we are finalizing the e-version, our campus is heart-broken again by the death of another student. On Friday, August 29 our Michael Thompson, an engineering major from Brownsburg, Ind., passed away after an ongoing battle against brain cancer. We mourn his death, and we particularly remember in our prayers the many people who loved him and supported him during his cancer fight, including his parents, siblings, friends, roommates and more. Back in February 2015 he posted to Facebook these words: "I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow." So, in the midst of our sorrow and our questions and our sadness, we also rejoice with Michael, who knew the truth of the gospel and now lives with his Savior in eternity.
  • At Calvin, ministry goes beyond daily chapel. Campus ministries works to create a rich environment where students can grow in a faith that is part of everything they do. Worship services, mentoring, community-wide Bible studies and conversations over coffee with a chaplain all serve to connect our students to a community of Christians committed to seeking God and serving him passionately in the world. And our new campus ministries website gives students, staff, faculty and alumni more ways to live and lead with courageous conviction.

Enrollment

Calvin is a dedicated community of faith and discovery, a place that prepares students to connect their minds, hearts and hands to serve God and the world.

  • We are pleased to announce that we are increasing the financial aid available to two groups of incoming students starting in the fall of 2016: children of alumni and/or students from the Christian Reformed Church. Our enhanced "Legacy Award" is now worth $4,000 per year for up to five years of undergraduate education at Calvin, making it a potential $20,000 award. Better yet there is no application and no deadline. The award will be given automatically within weeks of admission to Calvin (based on information provided on the admissions application), and it's automatically renewed for as long as the student is at Calvin. See more on Calvin financial aid.
  • Calvin's new logo was released last month and is a cornerstone component in a larger visual identity system for the college. The new logo will replace the current Calvin nameplate (not the heart-in-hand seal) and is the result of several rounds of workshops including staff, faculty and students. You can see the new logo and understand the rationale for its creation here.
  • Please think about the students you know, and invite them to consider Calvin! You are also invited to bring students to visit campus this fall! Please explore our many visit options.

Athletics

The fall 2015 sports season has begun. Follow all of our teams, their schedules, their stories and more at calvinknights.com.

  • The Calvin men's soccer team began the year ranked 16th in the preseason Division III Top 25 poll conducted by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
  • The Faculty Athletic Representatives of the MIAA member colleges present the MIAA Team GPA Award every year. This award recognizes conference athletic teams who have a 3.3 or better cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale). During the recently completed 2014–15 school year, nine of Calvin's athletic teams—women's cross country, soccer, volleyball, tennis, track and field, and swimming and diving plus men's cross country, basketball and tennis—earned the honor.
  • Also, this summer, for the fourth consecutive year, the Calvin women's volleyball team was honored for academics. Under the direction of head coach Amber Warners, the Calvin women's volleyball team compiled a 3.556 grade point average as a team during the 2014–15 academic year. The Knights also captured their fifth straight conference title, their fourth straight conference tourney crown and reached the semifinals of the NCAA III Tournament.

As I write this I know that many new students are packing up their electronics, chargers and a few other items as they prepare to make their way to Calvin College for the first time. In so doing they take their next steps on a pilgrimage of lifelong faith, learning, vocation and citizenship. Those who are certain of their path may be surprised at the challenges and hardships of the road, while others may already be asking doubting Thomas' question, "Lord, how can we know the way?"

In these uncertain times this question from John 14:5 is understandable. Many students today are preparing for jobs that don't yet exist. Volatile stock markets, global conflict and the brokenness of our world often make the way and the destination feel quite tenuous.

Yet Jesus responds to Thomas, and to all of us, that He is the "way, the truth and the life." At Calvin, we dare to believe that Christ, the Lord of all learning, equips our students with a beacon of light to illuminate the way as they pursue the expansive proving ground of an education grounded in the liberal arts and sciences. So, as the new academic year begins, our faculty and staff join our students as together we lean forward into our challenging calling with joy and great expectation.

Michael

 

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