The Campaign: Maximum Efficiency
$20M Endowment for Renovation and Maintenance

Brian Koster's first big assignment as a student working construction with Calvin's physical plant was a total overhaul of the college's development department offices. Since that summer of 2003, Koster, now a full-time physical plant employee, has remodeled scores of departments, offices, residence halls and student apartments. "I enjoy doing hard manual labor," the 26-year-old said.

Brian Koster

Brian Koster

There's plenty of hard manual labor to go around when you're in charge of maintaining and renovating a 400-acre campus. "People always ask, 'Can they keep you busy all year?'" Koster said, laughing before adding, "They keep us busy. And they keep us lined up really well. There isn't any down time, and stuff flows pretty smoothly from one project to another."

Koster not only likes the work, he likes the work site. "It's a beautiful campus," he said. He also admires his physical plant colleagues, who supply a whole range of expertise to the campus: painting, carpentry, concrete work, carpet and tile, ceilings, HVAC and electrical systems, and more. "Virtually everything I've learned today is due to the guys I work with, as far as carpentry goes," Koster said. "I'm blown away with the scale of the projects they can handle and with the quality of work they can do and the speed at which they do it."

What makes the work of Koster and his colleagues even more impressive, said Calvin architect Frank Gorman, is Calvin's attitude to what is routinely called "maintenance." "We like to take maintenance elements and make them into improvements," Gorman explained. "One of the basic premises of Reformed theology is that we should leave everything better than we found it. So, we need to maximize the operational efficiency of every building while we maintain its outward appearance. The same applies to the grounds."

The Campaign for Calvin CollegeAlthough today each facility constructed on the Calvin campus has an endowment for maintenance built into its cost, explained Calvin President Gaylen Byker, 40 years ago this was not the case. "Think of a student attending Calvin in 1975, when the campus was new," he said. "There was very little maintenance and renovation needed then. Every year, however, that student was using up the showers, the heat plant, the sidewalks, the carpeting and all of those things."

Much as a business sets aside money to maintain or replace aging facilities and equipment, Byker said, so the college must create funding to continue improving the Calvin campus. "We have to start funding our depreciation," he said. Twenty million dollars of the money raised through the Campaign for Calvin College will be used as a fund for campus maintenance. "I think of it as campus sustainability," said Byker. "If we want to sustain this campus, we must build financial resources to maintain and improve it."