DISTINGUISHING THE DISTINGUISHED
The Director's Desk
by Mike Van Denend
There is a new display mounted in the lobby of the Spoelhof Center on the Calvin campus.
In the top center of the display reads these words: "The Calvin Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to alumni who have made significant contributions in their field of endeavor and manifest a Christian commitment, thus honoring Calvin College."
Around this inscription are the names and grad years of the 64 persons who have received this award over the years since 1969.
To the left of the display is a mounted box, containing copies of a booklet that pictures and describes the recipients of this award.
Is there anything to be learned about what Calvin College believes is "distinguished" by reading the brief narratives of the 64 recipients?
Well, one of the first recipients, Amry Vandenbosch ‘17, taught political science at the University of Kentucky, and one of last year's honorees, Harry "Skip" Stout ‘69, teaches and studies Puritan history at Yale University.
In between one finds a mind-boggling array of occupations and involvements.
James Bere ‘44 ran an automotive equipment company in Chicago. James Wyngaarden ‘43 was the director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Washington, D.C. Meindert de Jong ‘28 won the Newberry Medal for children's literature for his book The Wheel on the School. Corrine Kass ‘50 has spent her career teaching special education in Illinois, Arizona and Michigan. Peter Boelens ‘55 worked as a medical evangelist in Korea before setting up the Christian Health Center in Cary, Miss.
The list continues. Dale De Haan ‘55 was appointed as deputy high commissioner for refugees by the United Nations. Marian Schoolland ‘34 wrote devotional books for young children. Richard De Vos ‘47 helped start a global business enterprise that has enabled him to play a major role in the rebuilding of downtown Grand Rapids. Florence Kuipers ‘42 worked as a linguist for the Department of Defense. Alvin Plantinga ‘54 is one of the most prominent philosophers in the United States. Jo Boomsma ‘48 takes in abused women and children in the hills of Appalachia. Don Mulder ‘40 is the country's foremost authority on ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Milt Kuyers ‘56 operates numerous Milwaukee area business and seeks to employ inner city workers.
A few recent recipients: Stephen Beals ‘73 is an internationally recognized plastic surgeon specializing in repairing congenital facial defects. Trena Haan ‘34 helps teachers, singers and speakers deal with damaged vocal chords. Calvin Seerveld ‘52 taught aesthetics for 38 years and wrote dozens of songs for church hymnals. Harlan Kredit ‘61 teaches high school biology and has been a park ranger at Yellowstone for 25 summers.
Can you find any themes?
What these thumbnail sketches don't reveal is the motivation behind what these alumni have done with the gifts God gave them. The committee that researches the nominees for the award from year to year get to read and hear testimonies from colleagues and acquaintances that reveal what is in the heart of these special people. And, as Sietze Buning so exactly reminded us in one of his poems, it isn't what these Calvin alums have done with their lives, but why they've done it.
They've all been obedient.
Anyone can nominate a Calvin alum for this award by contacting the Alumni Association, 616-957-6142, email@example.com