|Advice to the Class of 2002 from the Class of 1952: "Your education has just begun."|
We also pulled together around our new core curriculum. Early assessments show that the "Prelude" program for all first-year students and the January interim class, "Developing a Christian Mind," are doing an impressive job of equipping students for a life of discernment. The textbook for the course, Engaging God's World: A Reformed Vision of Faith, Learning and Living, by the former Dean of the Chapel and now Seminary President, Neal Plantinga, is the talk of Christian colleges from coast to coast.
The new core curriculum addresses the fact that Calvin's student body has changed significantly in the last few decades. Especially interesting is the increase in international students on our campus. This year's enrollment of 4,267 students included 182 students from 40 countries other than the U.S. and Canada, up 20 percent from the year before. That's more than 4 percent of all students and, when Canadians are included, means that 9 percent of Calvin students come from outside the U.S.
No wonder, then, the smashing success of "Rangeela," the international student talent program that has now gone to two sold-out evenings of Fine Arts Center performances. Or the intense interest in off-campus education for January interim classes and full-semester study programs in places such as China, Honduras, Hungary and New Mexico. According to a survey in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Calvin ranks near the top of all U.S. colleges in the number of students engaged in off-campus study. Indeed, another exclamation mark was added to international study this January when the new Asian Studies program was awarded a large grant from the New York-based Freeman Foundation.
With "Calvin's Crossing" complete, we turned our attention to the rest of the "Stepping East" project. Both the DeVos Communication and Prince Conference Centers opened this fall, thanks in large measure to the generous giving of two Calvin alumni families. These buildings have energized the campus community with creative thoughts about how the study, research and meetings conducted in the structures will add to the college's impressive list of teaching, scholarship and conferences.
"By stepping ahead faithfully, we become agents of renewal," said Calvin communications professor Quentin Schultze in his address at the groundbreaking ceremony for this project. "In fact, to step faithfully toward the east is also to move toward the Garden, for the word ‘east' used in Genesis 4 also means ‘the center'where the cross of Jesus Christ stands at the hub of history and the axis of our own salvation. When we direct our vision east, we face not only the joy of sunrises, but also the promises of God."
"Stepping East by God's Grace" is the full title of this newest chapter in our attempt to make a Calvin education relevant for a New Millennium of opportunities and challenges. We want our students to intentionally participate in God's grand renewal plan for His world. So the "Stepping East" project also includes a new Interpretive Center for the 90-acre Calvin Ecosystem Preserve, with gifts from former Calvin neighbor Helen Bunker and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation jump-starting the process.
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President's Report Committee