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January 8, 2001

Calvin VP Adds to Duties

For Calvin vice president Henry De Vries management is a pretty simple job. "My philosophy," he says, "is to hire good people and get out of their way."

It's a leadership style that has served him well during his four-year tenure as Vice President for Information Services, where he oversees a staff of 75 which, in turn, is responsible for all of Calvin's vast computing needs as well as the Hekman Library, Audio Visual and more.

It's a style De Vries hopes will continue to serve him well as he takes on further responsibilties as a Calvin VP. On January 1, 2001 he officially became Calvin's Vice President for Administration, Finance and Information Services, a title that reflects the taking on of what used to be the responsibilties of two VPs.

When former Vice President for Administration and Finance Jim Kraai resigned in the summer of 2000, De Vries became the acting VP for that division and Robert Kuilema, who had been working as an assistant to President Gaylen Byker, took on many of the day-to-day financial responsibilities. After six months of that arrangment, Byker, DeVries and Kuilema all felt that making things permanent would be good for them and good for the college.

"I've obviously got more work now," says De Vries, who added 85 more employees to his supervision with the change. "But I wouldn't have agreed to the extra work if I didn't have complete trust in the division (Administration and Finance) that's now under my care. We have a good group of people in place and my job is very similar to my work in Information Services. I want to be an advocate for employees. I want to empower them and help them to be successful."

Kuilema, whose title now is Director of Finance, is a key cog in that effort. Owner of an MBA degree and former veteran of a CPA firm, Kuilema oversees and coordinates the collecting of money, the paying of bills, the investing of funds, the recording of the college's financial transactions into usable financial statements and more.

"I couldn't do this without Robert," says De Vries, a Calvin graduate who was a biology major. "He does most of the day-to-day operational stuff and that allows me to look a little more clearly at the big picture. He is very good at what he does. And in Todd (Lohman) and Jim (Quist) and others in Financial services he works with people who are very skilled."

One of DeVries' biggest people challenges has been the differences in "corporate culture" between Information Services and Administration and Finance.

"In Information Services we tend to tolerate a lot of ambiguity," he says. "In Adminstration and Finance there is small tolerance for ambiguity. It's taking me a little while to get used to some of those differences. But it's coming."

DeVries also faces a significant challenge in shepherding Calvin's new building projects -- the Prince Conference Center and the DeVos Communuications Center.

"Those projects," he says, "are going to be some of the most visible in the history of the college. They mark our move from the west side of the (East) Beltline to the east side. They include a (pedestrian) walkway that will span the Beltline. Everyone who travels on the Beltline will be able to keep tabs on those efforts. We want to be sure that we're doing things right. But, again, there is a committee for each building made up of people from across the campus. Those committees are doing terrific work. And there too my job is to empower people to do a good job. That's a task I enjoy. It's why I'm excited about the work ahead."

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Contact Phil de Haan.