to Return as VP of Advancement
April 18, 2005
The 2001 winner of Calvin College's Outstanding Service Award is returning to his alma mater as the new Vice President of Advancement.
Dirk Pruis, a 1982 graduate of Calvin and All-American diver for the Knights, is leaving his post as President and CEO of EquiLend, a firm for securities lending owned by 10 of the world's leading financial institutions.
Pruis, a Grand Rapids native, earned an MBA from the University of Michigan after his Calvin graduation, and then began his career with the local office of then Big Eight accounting firm Touche Ross before transferring to New York City where he later landed at Goldman Sachs. There his career included launching an office in Mexico City and serving as Controller of Goldman's $2 billion Tokyo operation.
He then helped form EquiLend, which was founded in May 2001 by Barclays Global Investors, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Northern Trust, State Street and UBS.
And while he admits working on Wall Street has been a heady experience, he also says he's eager for the challenges and opportunities he sees at Calvin.
"This is an investment," he says, "of the second half of my career in a place that is making a difference, a place that is shaping the next generation of Christian leaders. As a Calvin student I was taught that everything I do counts. So even though I've never worked in a non-profit setting I've always felt it my calling to renew God's world in any way I can. Now I have a chance to come back to Calvin and give back to the institution that has given me so much."
Pruis moves into a position that has been retooled and renamed for his arrival (alumni relations and some communications functions have been added to the portfolio, joining the development function previously there when the job was titled Vice President of Development). Former Vice President of Development Robert Berkhof remains at Calvin as Senior Associate to the President for Development.
In his new post Pruis will direct, manage and coordinate Calvin's fundraising efforts; manage alumni operations; represent the college to corporate, foundation, donor and alumni communities; serve on the President's Cabinet; and oversee the relationship with the Christian Reformed Church on matters of development.
Calvin President Gaylen Byker says the hiring of Pruis and the shift in focus for Berkhof puts Calvin in a strong position.
"Dirk brings a unique combination of skills and experience to the (advancement) division," says Byker. "He has a great deal of valuable experience from a highly successful career in finance and management in this country, as well as in Mexico and Japan."
Byker says Berkhof's work will be equally valuable.
"Bob is a proven major gifts officer," he says, "and this change will allow him to focus his attention more directly on fund-raising. It will benefit the college to have him working more closely with me in major gift efforts. I look forward to his continuing leadership in this critical area."
Pruis is currently a member of the Calvin Board of Trustees (a post he will give up this summer) and formerly was a member and President of the Calvin Alumni Association Board. Interestingly Calvin's last two vice-presidential hires (Pruis and Vice President of Student Life Shirley Hoogstra) both were on the Calvin Board at the time they interviewed for and ultimately were selected as Vice Presidents.
Byker says the fact that both Pruis and Hoogstra came from the Calvin Board of Trustees to administrative positions at the college speaks to the strengths of the Board.
"I think it's a great reflection on both the quality of our Board," he says, "and the passion the Board members have for Calvin - passion enough that they're willing to make the jump from Board member to employee! I think it helped Shirley to have had that Board experience as she transitioned to her work as Vice President. I think it also will be an asset for Dirk. He has an intimate knowledge of Calvin and its mission from his service with the Alumni Association, the Board of Trustees and as a member of the Northeast Regional Advisory Council."
Calvin provost Joel Carpenter Joel Carpenter chaired the search committee for the new vice president. He agrees that Pruis' experiences with Calvin have served him well in setting a foundation for his new duties.
"Dirk is knowledgeable and passionate about Calvin's mission," says Carpenter. "He is eager to see Calvin become the best Christian college, and will set strong internal goals and objectives before his staff in order to make that aim a concrete reality. He has strong, demonstrated loyalty to the college, as both a giver and a volunteer."
Calvin Director of Alumni Relations Mike VanDenend concurs. He worked with Pruis on the Alumni Board, was on the search committee that helped select the new Vice President of Advancement and will report to Pruis when he begins his new duties.
"Dirk was a creative leader as President of the Calvin Alumni Association and the fact that he continued on the Alumni Board even as Goldman transfered him from New York to Tokyo speaks volumes about his dedication to Calvin," he says. "He never missed a meeting, and even began a new alumni chapter in Japan, emphasizing scholarship support for students there interested in attending Calvin."
And he echoes Byker's assessment of Pruis' business background.
"I think Dirk will bring management and problem-solving skills from his work experience that will greatly benefit the advancement effort at Calvin," says VanDenend. "He also has a global perspective, due to his many overseas business assignments that will help Calvin more clearly communicate its worldwide impact."
Pruis has a lifelong connection with Calvin. Some of his earliest memories of the college are set on the old Franklin Street campus back in the days when his father Don was a Calvin business professor. In fact, Pruis can still remember helping his dad move offices from the Franklin campus to the Knollcrest campus.
Later Pruis became a three-time NCAA Division III All-American diver for Calvin. And he still remembers the support and direction of his Calvin professors.
"Dr. Jim Timmer was quite a guiding influence on me," Pruis recalls. "He coached swimming at the time and counseled me on career matters and my general direction. He challenged me to broaden my horizons and not do the easy thing."
Pruis says that decades-old advice rang true with this recent career decision.
"Coming to Calvin might not be the easy thing," he says. "I'm leaving a world I've known for a long time. But Calvin is a special place. So I'm confident I'm doing the right thing."
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