The Director's Desk
By Mike Van Denend '78
GIFTS COME FROM ALUMNI HEARTS
It was a headline-grabber that stirred the campus this summer: two Calvin alumni families --- the De Voses and the Princes --- pledged a $20 million gift to the college over the next five years!
The Richard and Helen De Vos Foundation gave $10 million for a new Center for Communication Arts and Sciences, to be located across the Beltline and north of the Knollcrest East apartments.
The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation gave another $10 million for a new Conference Center, to be connected to the Communication Center and tied into the rest of the campus via an enclosed pedestrian bridge spanning the Beltline. (See the story on page 24 in this issue for more detail.)
"The De Vos and Prince families are long-time supporters of Christian education," said Calvin president Gaylen Byker. "Their support of these two new ventures means a great deal to all of us at Calvin. We are very grateful."
Of course, the college is bursting with excitement. The new Center for Communication Arts and Sciences will allow a department that is already ranked among the best in the country to move forward into expanding its offerings in television and radio training as well as internet applications.
The Conference Center has long been a dream of the college faculty and staff. Calvin currently draws Christian organizations and academics from all across the globe to study and meet on campus. The new center will enhance such efforts.
Everyone is interested in this story --- Calvin alumni and friends, West Michigan residents, media representatives, leaders in the Coalition for Christian Colleges and Universities. The news of the gifts went across the AP and UPI wires throughout the country.
However, there is a special group of people that I hope will be among the most energized: Calvin alumni who give what they can to the college to support the day-to-day, on-going work of the institution.
There are quite a few of you. My colleagues in the development office tell me that alumni giving in the $1,000-and-under range accounts for nearly $2 million a year to Calvin's annual fund. Just under 15,000 alumni are in that category --- the grads who love this school and give from the heart as God has blessed.
I want to remind this large contingent of the Calvin faithful that it is their support that encourages fellow alumni families like the De Voses and the Princes to step forward with the major building gifts. I believe major donors see themselves are partners with givers of all levels; in the best alumni environments, all financial supporters are encouraged to note that they are being joined by other alums at every level of giving.
You see, I'm aware that there is a flip-side reaction to these outstanding gifts --- the largest donations in Calvin's history. Some folks might wonder if their $10 or $100 or even $1,000 makes a difference. Perhaps they assume that Calvin won't notice their absence from the annual fund.
In my work as alumni director, I'm in alumni homes from Vancouver to Miami, and I see firsthand the sacrifices Calvin families make to send their children to the college and to support the school with gifts from their hearts. John Baas, our director of alumni giving, and his teammates in development bring back the same stories.
God has blessed each of us with different resources, and all He asks is that we give as we've been given. That's what I see many alumni doing --- from the De Vos and Prince families, to the new graduate beginning a tradition of supporting Calvin with a $10 gift.
It wouldn't be right for any Calvin staff member to pen these words if Calvin's own employees weren't demonstrating the same kind of heart-driven giving.
In fact, last year more than 90% of Calvin staff members supported the college financially, to the tune of over $200,000. And, by the way, many of our homes look like the ones I've seen in my numerous alumni chapter visits. During the recent Campaign for Calvin College, employees gave a mind-boggling $1.2 million to the school (the goal was $400,000). That support was a key factor in securing other campaign gifts, from foundations, businesses and individuals.
So, Calvin alumni and friends, rejoice with us at the college for these incredible gifts from two generous alumni families. Be encouraged to continue your part in ensuring that our alma mater not only maintains its status as one of the finest Christian colleges in the world, but also continues to expand its exploration into all areas of God's creation.