More than 50 years ago, a handful of visionary leaders moved Calvin College to a campus where the college could spread out and grow up. The current Calvin campus was built on the Knollcrest Farm, described in 1956 as “one of the most beautiful residential properties in Michigan.”
To accommodate the students who were arriving at record rates, the majority of that early campus was built within 10 years. During that time, the college focused its financial resources on building the campus; no money was set aside for renovations or repairs.
Calvin was built to last for 100 years. But like every constructed environment, the campus requires regular maintenance — and improvement — for its sidewalks, roofs, classrooms, lighting, heating and cooling systems, landscaping and every other facet of its physical plant.
Some of the college’s aging buildings must change to accommodate the demands of current technology. Some are in need of renovation to meet current building codes and to make room for the college’s burgeoning programming. Calvin has been a careful steward of the buildings and grounds that make up its campus. Now it is time to set aside resources for the continued sustainability of the campus.
Home ownership poses a maintenance challenge to the homeowner. The most modest dwelling requires regular attention to roof, gutters, windows, landscaping — the list is never-ending. The caretaking of a 390-acre campus made up of multiple buildings that are put to various uses is a significant challenge.
Recently, the physical plant job list included the construction of a new mail and print services building near the college’s Lake Drive entrance, a much-needed renovation to Schultze-Eldersveld residence hall, a new sea wall and bridges at the Seminary Pond and a deck for the Calvin observatory.
Among the recent projects Calvin physical plant staff completed were an addition to the science building power plant, a beautiful renovation of Beets-Veenstra residence hall, a complete remodel of the plaza outside the Calvin chapel (which covers the Lab Theatre) and an appealing new study room in the Hekman Library.
Such lists don’t even touch the “routine” work done daily all over campus — everything from painting hallways to tending the tulips to keeping students, faculty and staff comfortable in their residence halls, classrooms and offices.
Through endowment funds set aside for maintenance and renovation, Calvin can ensure that financing these necessary yearly chores doesn’t place a burden on the educational tasks of the college.