Director's Desk • Beyond the Campaign
By Michael Van Denend '78

College and university fund-raising campaigns are commonplace. As one wraps up, another is close behind in the planning stages. Campaigns have become an important way to grow a campus without adding to tuition costs.

With Calvin’s second major fund-raising endeavor—“No Greater Task: Hearts and Minds Renewing God’s World”—ending this summer, it is a good time to reflect on the purpose of campaigns at this institution.

The “No Greater Task” campaign was quite remarkable. It was delayed because of the terrorist attacks and subsequent economic aftershocks in 2001, and it concluded at a time of global financial uncertainty. The fact that alumni and friends of Calvin contributed, well over the $150 million goal, is a double blessing, “grace heaped upon grace,” one might say.

Because of the campaign, faculty gain access to many more research and study programs, enhancing how they teach in the classroom and present Christian scholarship to the world. Students benefit financially from the sizable addition to our scholarship programs.

In addition, three important campus buildings—the Bunker Interpretive Center, the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex and the Covenant Fine Arts Center—will significantly help Calvin faculty and staff in their work with the young men and women who attend here. At the same time, alumni and friends are able to enjoy the nature-related programming, athletic events and musical concerts that pour out of these structures.

So, alumni and friends, thank you. Your generosity has given Calvin resources it did not possess, particularly in biological research and study; in recreation, wellness and athletics; and in music, art and artistic performance.

I attended a number of the campaign events around the country, and after talking to alumni and friends about what the college meant to them and how they see the global impact Calvin is making, I have high hopes that whatever challenges might be ahead, a large cloud of witnesses will be there to lift the school higher.

Some have openly wondered if a place such as Calvin is sustainable. Our school does not settle for easy answers or a watered down we-vs.-they perspective on the world. Our faculty and students fearlessly examine every aspect of creation, at times raising unsettling questions. Are alumni and friends willing to support Reformed Christian higher education, even when they don’t personally agree with everything said, studied and performed?

This campaign’s success provides at least a partial answer. Yes, Calvin can continue to integrate faith and learning in a way that challenges, energizes and looks for creative ways to renew God’s world.

Finally, President Byker deserves our collective gratitude for working incredibly hard during this campaign to get all of us to see that we’re in this enterprise of faith and learning together. He leads, organizes, debates, strategizes, presents and defends—so that this college will survive and, indeed, thrive. 

What happens next depends, in large measure, on alumni and friends of Calvin. The president, faculty, staff and students are doing their part to sustain and enhance the Calvin tradition of offering hearts and minds to God for use in His kingdom. But will the larger Calvin community encourage the next generation of young people to attend here for this special approach to higher education? Will alumni make Calvin a higher giving priority, especially to the annual fund, so that the day-to-day operations of the college are covered? 

The campaign demonstrated a deep commitment to alma mater. A strong post-campaign response ensures that our work together forms the foundation of a dynamic and enduring Calvin College.


Michael J. Van Denend
Executive Editor, Spark