- Calvin College
- 1580 E Beltline Ave SE
- Grand Rapids, MI 49546-4447
The Youngsma Center was named in memory of Sydney Youngsma, an advancement division stalwart in the 1950s, 60s and 70s who was the college's first full-time fundraiser and publicist.
About Sydney Youngsma
A Chicago native, Youngsma came to Calvin as a student in 1929 and stayed for two years prior to earning a degree at the University of Chicago.
After graduation he worked for a time as owner of an art gallery and then at his father's paper business.
But in 1952, just after quitting the family business, he came to the attention of William Spoelhof, newly appointed as president of Calvin College.
Youngsma accepted an appointment as secretary of development to raise $2 million over five years to fund construction on Calvin's Franklin Street campus. As part of his work, he also became the college's publicist.
A few years later, when Youngsma already had raised $1.2 million, the decision was made to move to the Knollcrest Campus. His fundraising abilities became crucial for this move. In fact by the time he retired in 1974, Youngsma had conducted 17 telethons and directly raised $14 million for Calvin.
When Youngsma died in 1994, Spoelhof credited him as one of the three people, along with Henry DeWit and John Vanden Berg, most responsible for helping to build the Knollcrest Campus, Calvin's current home.
Youngsma's own view on things, noted Calvin archivist Richard Harms, was a little different and could aptly be summed up by a line from one of his last speeches while working for Calvin: "What good is a fiddle without a bow, so let's get back to the old ballgame."
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