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By Mike Van Denend '78


It all starts with a toothbrush.

After the Alumni Association Board Executive Committee brainstormed themes for the 2001-02 Association year, the word “reach” seemed to cover the landscape of alumni relations issues quite well, plus served as a handy catch-word to help us remember the themes.

Many of you know how strategic plans go. Your organization works on them for months and months, winds up with some wonderful goals—and then files the document away, rarely to be read again.

Our alumni leadership didn’t want that to happen to our newest map of where we hoped the Association might travel. So the four “Reach!” categories were born.

And, to get our Alumni Board members thinking of the “Reach!” themes, the first mailing they receive in the summer includes a toothbrush with REACH emblazoned on the side.

The brushes are sent, not to imply a lack of dental hygiene, but to underscore the importance of not losing track of the overall direction of the Calvin Alumni Association.

Other reminders come to alumni board and chapter leaders as the year goes on. We want all working with the Association to recall “Reach!” as they think about their annual plans.

And, since our alumni leaders, though talented and determined, cannot aspire to all of the “Reach!” themes by themselves, I ask all Calvin alumni to look over our vision statement and find the “Reach!” theme that resonates. Then, reach on behalf of Calvin.

What are the four “Reach!” areas? You can find the complete document off the Alumni Association website at, but here they are, in abbreviated form:

* Reach Up to embrace God’s call as servant-leaders!
This portion of the vision statement asks each alum to examine life and work and develop patterns that effectively use the gifts God’s given each one. Within our organization, the Association hopes to use our gifts to build Calvin networks worldwide—specifically through alumni events, admissions programs, career networking, development support, scholarship offerings and other means.

* Reach Out to an ever-widening international audience!
The Association’s planning was influenced by the recent college-wide marketing report that resulted in the “Minds in the Making” tagline and themes. We intend to expand Calvin’s reach to communities and audiences that don’t know about the college; alumni often live and work in those kinds of frontiers.

* Reach Across to become a more diverse and inclusive community!
Despite the changes in the Calvin alumni demographic over the years, the Association still has far to go to connect with the full range of Calvin grads—considering race, gender, age, disability, denomination and geography. The Association must look beyond traditional "borders."

* Reach Within to celebrate the history, heritage and legacy of Calvin!
God has given the Calvin community countless gifts over its 126 years and there are many stories to tell and to celebrate. We’re also responsible, as graduates of this place, for the financial well-being of Calvin so that the inspirational training in bringing shalom to “all things” might continue. We benefited greatly from out education here; we have to make certain young people of today have the same opportunity.

The Calvin Alumni Association is comprised of 48,741 incredibly talented people, many of whom have made life-changing contributions to homes, churches, schools, businesses, communities and organizations. If each member of the Association chose a “Reach!” theme and actively worked on it during the next year, there would be a rumble of Richter scale proportions—not just for Calvin, but for the Kingdom.

Let’s reach together. And, if you need the reminder, let us know if you need a toothbrush.

The Alumni Assocation's complete vision statements

Calvin Alumni Association Statistics
July 31, 2002

Total Alumni:
28,379 women
26,785 men
55,174 total

Living Alumni:
27,031 women
24,165 men
1,196 total

17,661 women
17,562 men
35,223 total

Living Grads: 16,886 women 16,122 men
33,008 total

Current members of the Association: 48,741 total

U.S. addresses (90%); Canadian addresses (6%);
International addresses (1%); Unknown (3%)

Joint addresses (married Calvin couples):
17,250 total —
35% of the Association

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