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News & Events: November 17, 2006

Calvin Announces Names, Donors

The expansion of the physical education and athletic complex at Calvin College has been named, as have several major elements of the project and their lead donors.

The upcoming expansion, slated to begin in spring 2007, will include a new arena, a new aquatic center, a new indoor track and tennis center and a significant renovation of the existing Calvin Fieldhouse (the latter also includes building a new student health center within the facility as part of the renovation). The first phase is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2008, and the entire project by the end of 2009.

Calvin College president Gaylen Byker has been the project's chief fundraiser and says it's been heartening for the college to see the sort of support and excitement the expansion has generated.

"These additions have been part of our campus master plan for many years," he says, "and they are long overdue. When we have talked to donors about the project they have recognized the need and worth of what we are planning. They understand the importance of this project and how it fits into our mission as a Christian, liberal arts college. That has been very satisfying."

Byker says the name chosen for the entire project is the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex. That name marks a lead gift to the effort from John and Judy Spoelhof who are based in Holland. John Spoelhof is the former president of Prince Corporation, and a longtime friend of Calvin, while his wife Judy is a 1961 graduate of the college.

"John and Judy have been supporting Calvin for many years," says Byker. "They previously endowed the John and Judy Spoelhof Institute for Christian Leadership in Business at Calvin. Their four children - Scott, Steve, Craig and Chris - are Calvin graduates as are two of their four spouses. In fact Scott was just recently named to the Board of Trustees. Both John and Judy, and now their children, know the importance of spiritual health and physical health. They've been very excited about this project from the start, and it's with gratitude that we honor them with the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex name."

The new arena at Calvin will measure some 175,000 square feet, seat approximately 5,000 and replace the Calvin Fieldhouse, which was built in 1965, as the homecourt for the school's Division III men's and women's basketball teams and women's volleyball team.

It will be called Van Noord Arena in honor of Andrew and Gladys Van Noord.

"Andy and Gladys have many years of connections to Calvin," says Byker. "Their daughter Nancy is a 1974 graduate of Calvin and a professor in the HPERDS (health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport) department. Andy's ties to Calvin go back over 60 years, back to the time he was a Calvin student. It is very affirming for us to be able to name what will be a spectacular new arena in honor of the Van Noord family."

Andy Van Noord is a 1943 graduate of Calvin and was a a pre-engineering major (back in the era when students began at Calvin and finished at the University of Michigan as part of a transfer program). He has been a lifelong inventor who designed many automotive components, including a remote control system for fender mirrors which went on to be used by Ford Motor Company. The World War II veteran is also an inveterate entrepreneur, starting several companies, including Kent Design and Manufacturing. He was also the president of Micro Machine Company, which makes surgical instruments, and has a patent on an electro-surgical knife.

The new aquatic center at Calvin will be named the Venema Aquatic Center in recognition of a lead gift from Calvin alumna Thelma Venema who has been a significant supporter of Calvin's efforts to educate the whole person. She previously helped the college through a major commitment to the Bunker Interpretive Center (which supports the educational programs of Calvin's 100-acre ecosystem preserve on the campus grounds) and significant support of Calvin's biotechnology program.

The new aquatic center which will bear her family's name will be a spectacular multi-use facility, featuring a pool 50 meters long and 25 yards wide. This Olympic-sized pool will provide Calvin significant flexibility, with a moveable bulkhead in the water to create areas that can be used for a wide variety of simultaneous activities, everything from college, high school and age-group swim meets, including diving, to water polo matches, water aerobics classes, swim lessons and more.

Byker says Venema's gift allowed the college to expand the size of the pool from a projected 33-meter-long, six-lane-wide facility.

"Thelma is connected to some really wonderful projects at Calvin," he says, "including the new Interpretive Center, which acts as a central gathering point for people visiting the (Ecosystem) Preserve, including thousands of school children who visit each year. She has a vision for how the aquatic center at Calvin might serve a similar purpose. This new center can become a key spot for people from across the community to come together for a wide range of events, in addition to exposing many first-time campus visitors to Calvin's programs and facilities. The impact of her gift will be far reaching and we are delighted to see the Venema name become part of the aquatic center."

The renovation of the existing Calvin Fieldhouse will be a significant effort and will create both a new health and recreation center and a new student health center within the renovated facility.

The retooled fieldhouse will be renamed the Hoogenboom Health and Recreation Center. The new student health center will be named Marian Hoogenboom Health Services.

Both names recognize significant financial support for the project from Terry Hoogenboom, a Goshen, Indiana-based builder and real estate developer. His wife Marian died of cancer and the connections to health and wellness are especially poignant for the Hoogenboom family.

"Being able to create a brand-new space for student health that will bear the name of Terry's wife is very special for him and for Calvin," says Byker. "It will be very meaningful to have a beautiful place easily accessible on campus where our students can both be proactive about their health and receive care when they are sick."

All of the upper bleachers in the fieldhouse will be removed, creating an open space with a multitude of playing courts. New offices and several new classrooms will be added to the facility, and the currently cramped human performance laboratory, a critical part of the college's exercise science program, will be greatly expanded. The fieldhouse also will feature new space for aerobics and dance activities (Calvin offers a dance minor and has a 300-student Dance Guild.)

In addition, the current on-campus student health center at Calvin, which now is housed in the basement of a residence hall, will be significantly expanded and find a new home in the renovated fieldhouse. It will increase from a 2,000 square foot facility currently to an approximately 6,000 square foot center complete with numerous exam and treatment rooms, a lab and various health center employee offices.

The renovated Calvin Fieldhouse will connect to the aquatic center and the new arena which, in combination with the track and tennis facility, will create a complex of some 350,000 square feet. No name has yet been attached to the track and tennis center, with Byker noting with a smile that he is open to suggestions from a prospective lead donor.

The other lead donor to the overall expansion project at Calvin is the Grand Rapids-based Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. Byker says the college appreciates the tremendous commitment to educating the whole person shown by the DeVos gift.

"This idea of educating students for a well-rounded life of service in God's kingdom is one that the DeVos family feels is very significant. At Calvin we are working hard to do a great job in the classroom, but we are also working to help students think about their lifestyle, and that includes everything from athletics and recreation to exercise and eating habits. So, while Rich and Helen’s names are not directly assigned to a specific component of this project, their gift is central to what these centers will mean for us educationally. We are very grateful for their support."

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