In the Spotlight • David Mackus

David Mackus
Dave Mackus '01

During his senior year at Calvin, Dave Mackus ’01 was one of a group of business/accounting majors who took the CPA exam and passed all four sections on the first sitting. That year, Calvin students passed the exam at a rate of 43 percent, while the national average was 18 percent.

Ray Slager, professor of accounting at Calvin, was Mackus’ academic advisor. He said the remarkable fact about Calvin students passing all sections of the CPA exam in the first attempt is that they are undergraduates — none hold advanced business degrees. He points out that in most years Calvin students have performed very well on the exam — usually scoring among the top five of all colleges in Michigan.

For Mackus, his Calvin education and CPA exam results helped launch his career in the accounting firm of Deloitte and Touche. He began working as a staff accountant for the firm immediately after graduating from Calvin.

Mackus says the code of ethics in his field holds him to a high degree of responsibility as he audits businesses and nonprofit organizations. “A lot of responsibility is given to auditors. Financial statements need to be reliable and present fairly the financial status of an entity. Business owners, investors, banks and charitable donors depend on us,” he said. “And as a Christian, every day I have the opportunity to live out my faith in the workplace.”

Soon after he began working in the Grand Rapids office of Deloitte and Touche, Mackus began making contributions to Calvin’s annual fund. He said, “I’m blessed, and Calvin is due some of that.” But he didn’t expect that his gift to Calvin would be doubled. Mackus discovered his employer is a matching gift company. For every dollar given to Calvin — up to $1,000 — Deloitte and Touche makes an equal contribution to the college. A $1,000 gift turns into a $2,000 contribution.

The recipient of two named scholarships during his Calvin days, Mackus knows first-hand the impact of a gift to the college. He received the Margaret and Douglas Bush Family Business Scholarship and the Randall K. Vander Weele Memorial Scholarship. He still remembers how happy he was when he called home with news of the awards.

As a recent graduate, Mackus still has vivid memories of his Calvin education. He says that among his favorite classes was an interim course in Australia that was taught by chemistry professors Larry Louters and Ron Blankenspoor. The course, “Fitness and Nutrition as a Lifestyle,” included an 800-mile bike trip through southern Australia. Students wrote research papers on nutrition and nutrition fads before making their extended bike trip in Australia. The trip gave them an opportunity to test their research daily.

A memorable interim course in Australia, classes with Christian classmates and professors, challenging business courses and college days spent in an environment in which spiritual life flourished pretty much sums up the Calvin experience for Dave Mackus. Add to that his current position at a big-four accounting firm, where these Calvin experiences contribute daily to his work as a staff accountant, and Mackus repeats, “I’m blessed.”

The college has identified more than 500 matching gift companies at which Calvin alumni are employed. Many alumni are unaware of matching gift programs in their places of employment; the college encourages alumni to take advantage of the special corporate philanthropy that is available. Nearly $350,000 was received from matching gift companies last year, thanks to the extra steps alumni took to complete matching gift forms and send them to the college. If you have questions about matching gift programs, please contact the college at 800-968-4363.