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May 20, 2001

Calvin Board Wraps
Herman Keizer, Ron Baylor, William Rehnquist, Gaylen Byker, Jacquelyn Mabin Nickerson (from left to right) prior to Commencement 2001

The 31-member Calvin College Board of Trustees concluded its spring meetings May 18 on the school's campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The spring meeting is one of three annual sessions for the Calvin Board. The Board also meets annually in October and February. The May meeting coincides each year with Calvin's Commencement ceremonies.

The Board participates in Commencement and this year was part of a ceremony that included the presentation of bachelor's degrees to 920 graduates (about 530 women and 390 men), the 81st such conferring of four-year degrees in Calvin's 125-year history. In fact, Calvin awarded its first bachelor's degrees in 1921 to a senior class of eight men.

At Commencement the Board witnessed the presentation of Calvin's highest alumni honor: The Distinguished Alumni Awards. Making the presention to the 2001 recipients was Ron Baylor, president of the Calvin Alumni Association. This year's honorees are are 1965 graduate Colonel Herman Keizer, Jr. and 1955 graduate Dr. Jacquelyn Nickerson.

Calvin College has presented its Distinguished Alumni Awards -- intended to honor those who have made significant contributions in their field of endeavor -- annually since 1966. Keizer is a Colonel in the U.S. Army who has worked as a Chaplain for 33 years. A winner of the Purple Heart who served in Vietnam, Keizer's most recent projects have been on the state of leadership and human relations in the Army and on religious freedom issues in all of Africa and the Balkans.

Nickerson is the first African-American winner of the Distinguished Alumni Award. She worked at MSU's Mott Institute for Community Improvement, developing field experiences in urban education in Detroit, Flint and Lansing. She was on the Northern Michigan University Board of Governors, where she eventually served as chairperson.

The Board also heard 2001 Commencement speaker William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Rehnquist, in an approximately 12-minute address, urged the graduates to resist the tempations of "careerism," to avoid defining themselves by their jobs. "It happens in a subtle way," he said. He called on them to make time for the important things in life. "It takes time to be a good spouse," he said. The father of three added (to knowing and appreciative smiles from many parents): "It takes more time to be a good parent." Rehnquist also called on the graduating class to recognize the beauty in life, quoting the memorable line from the poet Keats who said: "A thing of beauty is a joy forever."

The response to Rehnquist was warm. He received sustained applause after being introduced by Calvin president Dr. Gaylen Byker. He received another ovation at the conclusion of his speech. There were no visible signs of protest in the audience of approximately 4,300, including graduates, faculty, parents and friends.

In business prior to Commencement the Board celebrated the careers of eight retirees, six of whom retired just this month and two of whom retired in December 2000, and conferred upon them the titles of professor emeritus and emerita. The retirees are: Dr. Helen Bonzelaar (art), Dr. Gordon DeBlaey (Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice), Dr. Edna Greenway (Spanish), Dr. Rodger Rice (Sociology, Social Work and Criminal Justice and Director of the Social Research Center), Dr. Frank Roberts (History and Director of Off-Campus Programs), Gloria Goris Stronks (Education), Charles Strikwerda (Political Science) and Mary Ann Walters (English).

Connected to those retirements, the Board endorsed two administrative appointments for the College. Dr. Ellen Monsma is the new Director of Off-Campus Programs for Calvin (replacing Roberts). Dr. Mark Regnerus is the new Director of the Social Research Center at Calvin (replacing Rice). The Board recognized a pair of professors - Dr. David Diephouse and Dr. Uko Zylstra - who are marking 25 years of service to Calvin.

In other academic business the Calvin Board of Trustees ratified the awarding of 14 Calvin Research Fellowships. These Fellowships cover a variety of academic terrain, from Dr. Adel Abadeer's research on Sudan and modern-day slavery to Dr. Garth Pauley's book on the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to Dr. William VanVugt's article on British immigration to Ohio. And it endorsed the selection of Joel Navarro as the recipient of a Graduate Study Fellowship for Prospective Minority Faculty Members. Navarro wil be given financial support to work on a doctoral degree with a commitment to return to teach at Calvin, following the completion of his Ph.D.

The Board also discussed the most recent draft of the Calvin College Strategic Plan, being prepared for 2001-2006. And it took part in a Friday-afternoon tree-planting ceremony on the lawn of DeWit Manor (the presidential residence). That ceremony was in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Michigan Colleges Foundation, of which Calvin is a member.

Internal business saw the election of Board officers for 2001-2002. Milt Kuyers, a Milwaukee area businessman, will stay on as Board chair; Rev. Charles DeRidder, pastor of Shalom CRC in Sioux Falls, S.D. will be vice chair; and Rev. Ed Blankespoor, pastor of Beckwith Hills CRC will remain secretary.

And it approved the appointments of two new trustees: Marjorie Youngsma of Denver, CO and Elsa Prince Broekhuizen of Holland, MI. Youngsma will be the Alumni Trustee, while Broekhuizen will serve as an At-Large Trustee. Both will serve three-year terms.

Finally, six Trustees were reappointed for three-year terms: DeRidder, the Sioux Falls pastor; Rev. John DeVries, a Sun Valley, CA resident who pastors Bethel CRC; Dr. Jack Harkema, a professor at Michigan State University who lives in Okemos; Arnold Morren, a Byron Township resident who owns Nagel Construction; Dr. Henry Stronks, a VP for Bruker Canada Ltd. who lives in Guelph, ON; and Jacquelyn VanderBrug, a Boston, MA resident who's a director for iBasis.

The Board also bid farewell to three retiring members: Herman Miller CEO Michael Volkema, Harvard physics professor Dr. Gerald Gabrielse and American Enterprise Institute director Dr. Marvin Kosters.

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Contact Phil de Haan
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