President's Message

God's World — Our Classroom

"As followers of Jesus Christ, living in the world — which some seek to control, but which others view with despair — we declare with joy and trust: Our world belongs to God!" — "Our World," paragraph 1*
President Gaylen J. Byker
President Gaylen J. Byker

The contemporary testimony "Our World Belongs to God" serves as a helpful companion to our life, work and study on the Calvin campus. The academic year completed in 2005 was no exception.

We began the year by dedicating the Bunker Interpretive Center and ended the year by hosting the President of the United States at Commencement. These two events alone would constitute an unusual 12 months. But they serve as the bookends to a fulfilling season of heeding God's call to learn about and care for his world.

The new Vincent and Helen Bunker Interpretive Center, the gateway to our 100-acre Ecosystem Preserve, has won two awards for environmental construction, one regional and one national. We use it to introduce our Calvin students — as well as children and visitors from the local community — to the majesty of God's creation.

President George W. Bush, 2005 Commencement speaker
President George W. Bush, 2005 Commencement speaker

It was an honor to welcome President George W. Bush as our Commencement speaker. His visit to our campus allowed us to discuss the interaction between faith and politics on a national stage. In his speech, President Bush invoked the name and spirit of Abraham Kuyper, a Christian thinker influential in Reformed circles, as nearly 900 Calvin seniors were commissioned as agents of renewal to make a difference in God's world.

"As covenant partners, called to faithful obedience, and set free for joyful praise, we offer our hearts and lives to do God's work in his world." — "Our World," paragraph 6

Once again, we were inspired by great Calvin teachers, such as Exemplary Teaching Award recipient James Jadrich, a physics professor. Jadrich overcame a difficult childhood in a tough St. Louis neighborhood and now trains future science teachers at Calvin.

And our professor-scholars produced numerous works that drew national attention — like English professor Gary Schmidt, whose book for young readers, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, was recognized by the National Library Association as a John Newbery Honor Book and a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, two of the most prestigious awards given in children's literature.

In addition, during the year, thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends, we were able to establish two new institutes of specialized scholarship: the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning (directed by David Smith, professor of German) and the Gainey Institute of Faith and Communication (directed by Quentin Schultze, professor of communication). Further contributions allowed us to name Professor Schultze the first holder of the Arthur H. De Kruyter Chair in Faith and Communication.

But despite these significant achievements and milestones, and the fine work that Calvin continues to do locally and nationally, the theme of this special year in the college's history was the continuing globalization of our education, our faculty and our student body.

Petra: Lost City of Stone
Petra: Lost City of Stone

Over an almost five-month span this spring and summer, Calvin College welcomed 63,000 visitors into the cultural world of the Nabataeans, the inhabitants of Petra, the famous archeological treasure located in southern Jordan.

The Petra: Lost City of Stone exhibition was a great success, a leap of faith that paid off. Yet why would a college spend an immense amount of time and energy to transform one of its facilities into a museum capable of holding over 200 significant artifacts, many of which have never before been seen in the United States?

The answer is expressed in Calvin's mission statement:

"We strive to embrace the best insights of Christian life and reflection, engage issues in the intellectual and public spheres, and enrich faith by the heritage of the past and the discoveries of today."

Our pledge to engage issues does not limit itself to Grand Rapids, or West Michigan, or North America. It is a global vision, spreading the influence of Christ-centered scholarship worldwide.

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