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Calvin to Welcome President Bush
updated May 10, 2005

President George W. BushA little over five years ago, in January 2000, George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, took to the stage of the Calvin College Fine Arts Center as part of a nationally televised debate among those seeking the Republican nomination for President, a nomination he eventually earned on his way to becoming the nation's 43rd President.

Now President Bush is in his second term as the nation's leader. And on May 21 he again will grace a Calvin College stage.

This time the setting will be the Calvin Fieldhouse and the occasion will be the college's 85th annual Commencement ceremony (no public tickets will be available for the event).

President Bush also will go to Annapolis for the Naval Academy's May 27 graduation (he has been maintaining the tradition of rotating between the military service academies).

Calvin President Gaylen Byker says the event will be a significant one for the Christian, liberal arts college.

George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, took to the stage of the Calvin College Fine Arts Center as part of a nationally televised 2000 GOP Debate.
George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, took to the stage of the Calvin Fine Arts Center as part of a nationally televised 2000 GOP Debate.

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"It is a great honor to have the President of the United States speak at Calvin," he says. "By virtue of his position, he is undoubtedly one of the most influential people in the world. We want our students to leave this place challenged and motivated to renew God's world in whatever they do. For our graduates to hear from President Bush as they prepare to leave Calvin and make a difference in the world is an extraordinary opportunity for them. The presence of President Bush will certainly make this a Commencement that students, parents and the Calvin community will remember for years to come."

Byker says regardless of one's political persuasion the opportunity to hear from the President of the United States is a singular opportunity.

"We invite many speakers to campus because we want our community to meet and hear from important national and world figures," he says. " We need to hear and learn from thinkers and leaders whether we agree with them or not."

In fact on May 5 Calvin hosted Jim Wallis who spoke on "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It." The next day it sponsored a conference called "Confrontational Politics versus Finding Principled Common Ground."

But on May 21 Calvin expects to bid farewell to almost 900 graduates. It was an alum of almost 50 years ago, U.S. Congressman Vernon Ehlers, who, along with Ambassador Peter Secchia, lent a helping hand in securing this year's Commencement speaker.

Ehlers, class of 1956 and a 17-year Calvin physics professor, has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993 and throughout his time in political life has gained notice as a leader on issues involving the environment, education and public health. He also was a strong advocate for Calvin in its bid to have President Bush speak at Commencement.

On May 21 President Bush will share the stage with a trio of distinguished graduates of Calvin.

Slated to receive Calvin's Distinguished Alumni Award at Commencement 2005 are Edwin Bos and his wife Carol Yonkers Bos, both 1968 graduates of Calvin, and Richard Katte, a 1958 graduate.

Edwin and Carol Bos are being honored for their work as founders of Worldwide Lab Improvement, Inc., a non-profit ministry devoted to assisting mission hospital and clinic labs in developing countries with consultation, equipment, supplies and training.

Katte has served as a mathematics teacher, coach, athletic director and assistant principal at Denver Christian High School since 1960 where his boys' basketball teams have won over 700 games and six state championships.

"In Edwin and Carol Bos and Dick Katte, President Bush will find three superb representatives of what we believe a Calvin education is all about," says Byker. "All three have made a difference in the world in very special ways."

SOME LINKS OF INTEREST

Other Links

A Washington Post piece on Calvin and Commencement
Calvin's Student Newspaper Looks at Reactions to Visit