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Beversluis Inauguration Is October 25
October 5 , 2006

The inauguration of Claudia Beversluis on October 25 as the seventh provost of Calvin College will feature an unsual twist: the featured speaker will not be Beversluis.

Past Chief Academic Officers

Albertus J. Rooks, 1919-41
Henry J. Ryskamp, 1941-64
John Vanden Berg, 1964-82
Peter DeVos, 1982-85
Gordon Van Harn, 1985-96
Joel Carpenter, 1996-2006

Rather, Beversluis, Calvin's first female provost, has chosen an admired colleague to deliver words of wisdom that day at 3:30 pm in the Calvin Chapel.

She has selected Roberta Hestenes, the president emeritus of Eastern College in Pennsylvania and the former board chair of World Vision International, to speak on "The Unfinished Challenge: Women, Global Poverty and the Kingdom of God."

Beversluis, a 1974 graduate of Calvin, says she applied for the provost job after feeling a sense of calling.

"I had many people on campus ask me if I planned to apply," she says with a chuckle. "It was hard to ignore that kind of input. When a community that you are part of calls you to leadership I believe that you have to say yes. So I applied."

In Hestenes, says Beversluis, she finds much to model her own academic career after.

"Dr. Hestenes is someone that I have always admired," she says. "She was one of the first women in leadership in Christian higher education. She is clearly moved by the world's needs, and has been a leader in programs to address those needs. And she has written convincingly that all of us need to step forward and answer the call to serve. Some of the phrases from her writings were actually echoing in my mind when I considered whether or not to accept the nomination for this position."

In a recent piece for Christianity Today on the history of evangelicals, Notre Dame professor Mark Noll cited Hestenes as a leader in the evangelical movement, listing her alongside such luminaries as Francis Schaeffer, C. S. Lewis, James Dobson, and Richard John Neuhaus.

Hestenes was thrust into the national spotlight in 2004 when she delivered the concluding prayer at the Democratic National Convention. But she had played a key role in evangelicalism for many years prior to that moment.

She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, and has served churches in Washington State and California. Prior to becoming president of Eastern College, she was a professor and Director of Christian Formation and Discipleship at Fuller Theological Seminary. Her articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Eternity, and Sojourners magazines and she is the author of several books.

Beversluis says Hestenes' work with World Vision International meshes nicely with her own personal concerns and with Calvin's growing global focus.

But, she says, maintaining and strengthening Calvin's place in the City of Grand Rapids is also a focus for her.

Indeed having used service-learning during her nine years as a professor of psychology at Calvin, Beversluis says connecting the classroom experience to the city is a critical concern for the college.

"Getting Calvin students involved in the city," she says, "helps them understand that ideas matter and it helps them understand that they can make a difference. Those have been important considerations for Calvin for many years and will continue to be an emphasis for me."