Director's Desk • Readers and Leaders
By Michael Van Denend '78

An amazing series of meetings between Calvin alumni and faculty members occurred on the Calvin campus last academic year.

For the first time, the Calvin Alumni Association (CAA) and the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship (CCCS) collaborated on what the academics call a reading group: gathering a number of interested persons around a specific topic for a series of readings and conversations, resulting in exciting ideas for all participants to use in their respective positions and disciplines.

book groupFaculty members immerse themselves in this kind of study regularly to help them stay on the cutting edge of their fields. Alumni in the workplace typically don’t get that kind of opportunity. The CAA-CCCS alumni participants did—and were most grateful.

The topic of the reading group was “Developing a Christian Understanding of Institutional and Christian Leadership,” and the members were co-led by Shirley Roels, director of Calvin’s Van Lunen Center for Executive Management in Christian Schools, and Bradley Miller ’85, an executive for J.P. Morgan Chase in New York City.

Calvin faculty members on the team represented diverse academic interests: Kevin Corcoran (philosophy), Margaret Edgell (business), Susan Hasseler (education), Duane Kelderman (Calvin Theological Seminary) and Doug Koopman (political science).

Alumni members also came from different interest areas as well as locations across North America: Sharon Brinks ’76 (attorney, Kentwood, Mich.), Mary Cagle ’73 (director of children’s legal services for the state of Florida, Miami, Fla.), Doug Diekema ’84 (physician and medical ethicist, Seattle, Wash.), Joe Gibbons ’71 (member, Florida House of Representatives, Hallandale Beach, Fla.) and Georgina Veldhorst ’80 (management consultant, Toronto, Ont.).

For three weekends over the course of the academic year, these Calvin leaders read, discussed, debated and prayed about issues relating to the challenges of Christians who find themselves in leadership positions in a variety of arenas.

“For more than a century, Calvin faculty members have been innovators in developing Christian critiques and perspectives across every discipline,” noted Miller in launching this endeavor.

“It is also true that many Calvin graduates have gone on to successful careers and continue the search to integrate Christian perspectives in their daily lives and work,” he continued. “It is likely that numerous Calvin alumni may be informed about leading-edge ideas that can have an important impact on the integration of faith and learning.”

Thus, the reading group was born. The alumni association hopes that new ground can be broken by this kind of collaboration, developing fresh Christian perspectives by combining Calvin’s faculty with Calvin alumni who are leaders in their fields.

Over the next few issues of Spark, the CAA-CCCS team will be asked to share some of its reading list and discussion points during this unique experience. Perhaps alumni readers can be informed of new books and ideas on leadership that will be helpful. Or following the exploits of this inaugural group might generate other ideas on how faculty and alumni can interact and benefit from perspectives on and off the Knollcrest campus.

Either way, it is an exciting new interaction between Calvin faculty and alumni. Let’s do more of this!


Michael J. Van Denend
Executive Editor, Spark