May 23, 2003
Commencement 2003 Set for May 24; John Perkins Will Speak
EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the May 23 Grand Rapids Press story on Commencement 2003.
Calvin College will hold its annual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 24 at 3 p.m. in its Fieldhouse. Commencement 2003 marks the 83rd such conferring of four-year degrees in Calvin's 125-year history.
This year's ceremony will feature a graduating class of approximately 900 students. Calvin awarded its first bachelor's degrees in 1921 to a senior class of eight men.
The 2003 Commencement speaker will be John M. Perkins (above), a sharecropper's son who grew up in Mississippi amidst dire poverty (see below for further bio details).
Calvin's 2003 Commencement Ceremony also will be marked by the presentation of Calvin's highest alumni honor -- the Distinguished Alumni Award -- to Robert Swierenga and Paul VandenBout (see below for bios). 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.
And a quartet of Calvin professors will mark their final Commencements as they move from the classroom into retirement. Together the four - Edward Ericson (26 years), Sanford Leestma (35 years), James Timmer (33 years) and Lambert Van Poolen (35 years) - have served Calvin for a combined 129 years!
BIO OF 2003 COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER JOHN M. PERKINS
Born in Mississippi, Perkins fled to California when he was 17 after his older brother's murder at the hands of a town marshal. He vowed never to return. However, in 1960, after his conversion to Christ, he returned to his boyhood home to share the gospel of Christ with his people. His outspoken support and leadership role in civil rights demonstrations resulted in repeated harassment, imprisonment and beatings. Despite dropping out of school in the third grade, Perkins has received recognition for his work with seven honorary doctorates. He is an international speaker and teacher on issues of racial reconciliation, leadership and community development. Perkins is assisted by 2000 Calvin graduate Nate Bradford, who began working for Perkins as an intern and now coordinates the Inside Out Prison Ministry Association and serves as a community organizer focused on developing an aftercare network of services for ex-offenders.
BIOS OF DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD WINNERS
Dr. Robert Swierenga,
a 1957 Calvin graduate, is A.C. Van Raalte Research Fellow at Hope College
and a professor of history emeritus at Kent State University. Dr. Swierenga
is the "dean of scholars" concerning Dutch-American studies
in the 19th and 20th
Dr. Paul Vanden Bout, a 1961 grad of Calvin, is director emeritus of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Va. Dr. Vanden Bout is a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy, a science that now brings us more information about the nature of the universe than optical studies. While currently on sabbatical at Columbia University, he remains the NRAO's leader in developing the next stage in radio astronomy, the construction of the international ALMA site in Chile.