Michael Van Denend
Executive Director, Calvin Alumni Association
Knowing I can’t compete with David Letterman’s nightly “Top
Ten” list, I thought I would take broad leaps between some numbers
— all with Calvin significance.
The number of years Gaylen Byker ’73 has been
president of Calvin College. Within that time, there’s been about
20 years worth of accomplishments, topped off by the astounding Petra
exhibition of this past year. At a celebration event marking the occasion
this summer, staff members recounted the impressive number of new academic
programs, building projects and renovations, and clear emphasis on global
education that have been hallmarks of President Byker's tenure.
The number of business internships set up by
Calvin’s career development office for this semester. That’s
a jump from last year’s record of 91 and an incredible education
opportunity for Calvin students that most alumni did not experience. This
indicates a dynamic partnership between the career development office
and Calvin grads, and I encourage more alumni to contact the office and
offer real-life learning to current students.
The amount of money collected from Calvin students for
Hurricane Katrina relief at just one evening service of the LOFT,
the on-campus Sunday worship experience. That amazing outpouring of support
from college students offers a glimpse of the servant-hearts being educated
here. Currently, students are gearing up for another Peter
Fish drive for world hunger and poverty, which last year netted an
amount similar to the Katrina offering.
The number of years (plus) that Twylla Vandermolen Nieboer
’62 worked in the alumni office as records clerk. Twylla
retired from her position as “Namekeeper” for Calvin alumni
on September 1, and all Calvin grads owe her gratitude for protecting
their computer-based information here and for caring so much about accuracy.
No one loves this institution as deeply as Twylla, and we are going to
miss her talent and bright smile.
The latest percentage of Calvin alumni donors to the Annual
Fund. I wrote a column
on this subject a couple of years ago, lamenting the 31-percent mark that
we were submitting to U.S. News & World Report. While it
appears we’ve come a short distance, we have miles to go to inspire
alumni to support this college financially to the extent that is needed
and deserved. No one who attended Calvin paid the entire cost of education
here, and everyone who attended benefited from the experience —
some to a life-changing extent. Using the online
giving form, every alum has one more chance this year to improve on
that percentage and to make a difference every day for every Calvin student.
Our giving percentage ought to be well into the 40s and even 50 percent.
This is the fund to which every graduate, regardless of income, can contribute
— and every gift is important.
The estimated number of “official” spiritual
growth activities and opportunities that are available to Calvin
students during the course of an academic year. Related to that estimate
is an even larger number: the 4,200 hours a semester logged by the Barnabas
Team, young Christians who mentor and challenge students in the residence
halls to live together as the Body of Christ.
The latest percentage of Calvin students who are children
of alumni. While the Annual Fund giving number listed previously
is average for a school of Calvin’s excellence, the percentage of
legacy students, although just a few ticks higher, is astronomical. This
speaks of high customer satisfaction and an understanding that the education
at Calvin is valuable and unique. You can keep this percentage lofty by
becoming involved in associate director of admissions Tasha Paul’s
Alumni Admissions Support Network at www.calvin.edu/admin/admissions/aasn.
The number of national championships won by Calvin’s
cross country teams, three by the men, two by the women. And
that number may already be six by the time you read this column. The Calvin
men are rated first in the nation once again and should they take home
another title, that would be back-to-back-to-back championships. There
is no doubt that Calvin has the finest small college running program in
Numbers can communicate part of a story, but in math class I recall being
asked to find the common denominator of a numerical series. At Calvin,
the numbers we strive to attain are intended to point to One — Jesus
Christ. As Calvin’s mission states: “We pledge fidelity to
Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God’s work in