Board appoints Michael Le Roy president

Synod approval necessary


Spring 2012

Michael Le Roy spent the first weekend of January meeting with faculty, staff, students and the board of trustees at the college he will soon lead. On Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, Le Roy moved one step closer to becoming Calvin’s tenth president when the board of trustees accepted the presidential search committee’s unanimous recommendation and appointed Le Roy to the position of president of Calvin College.

“He is a collaborative, visionary leader with proven academic, administrative and scholarship skills who is committed to furthering the mission of Calvin,” said Scott Spoelhof, chair of Calvin’s board of trustees. “His commitment to Reformed theology will serve our institution well as we not only interact with our existing constituencies, but also seek to engage the broader evangelical community.”

In the hours following his appointment, Le Roy met with faculty and staff in the Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall at a town hall meeting, where he lavished praise on the community for making a tremendous contribution to Christian higher education.

“This is a wonderful place, with a fantastic faculty and great staff who serve the students and have the students at the focus of their attention. This needs to be celebrated,” said Le Roy, who currently serves as provost and executive vice president of academic affairs and also holds an appointment of professor of political science at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash.

He emphasized that getting to know the Calvin community is of top priority to him in his first year. He plans to spend a lot of time listening to and learning from Calvin faculty and staff, constituencies and, especially, students. He said that the best vision is one that is cast by the entire community.

“Each person sees the institution from a different point of view and can add something of value … so over the year I hope to engage with every group and understand more about what they care about, what they are interested in, and what their dreams and hopes are for Calvin College.”

Le Roy also shared with faculty and staff that he places a high value on collaboration, open communication and leading with integrity.

“I am confident that he will build on the strengths of the institution,” said Jennifer Holberg, professor of English and member of the presidential search committee. “It was a privilege to hear the testimonies of Dr. Le Roy’s colleagues as we went through the search process. Each one affirmed that he would ‘bring joy to our campus.’”

The personal testimonies and references affirming the 44-year-old presidential appointee are complemented by academic and administrative experience and scholarship. After earning his undergraduate degree from Whitworth College with majors in international studies and peace studies, he went on to earn his PhD in political science from Vanderbilt University.

Upon graduation, Le Roy took a visiting faculty appointment at the College of William and Mary and then taught for eight years in the political science department at Wheaton College, earning the Faculty Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Excellence in Teaching Award granted by the American Political Science Association. He served for four years as department chair and developed a new major in international relations, leading the Wheaton in Europe program.

In 2002, Le Roy returned to his alma mater as a professor of political science. Three years later he was appointed vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty and led the rapid transformation of the academic program at Whitworth. In 2010, Le Roy completed a collaborative initiative to open Whitworth University’s first international education center in Costa Rica.

Le Roy lives in the Spokane area with his wife of 23 years, Andrea, and his son, Dana, and daughters, Hannah and Astrid. The Le Roys are currently members of the Colbert Presbyterian Church (PCUSA).

But they won’t be members of the PCUSA for long. Le Roy has said he’s “really excited to be a part of a CRC congregation.” Indeed, from his application materials onward, Le Roy alleviated any concern on this issue by repeatedly sharing his unequivocal commitment to the theological fundamentals of the CRC, sharing in his application’s faith statement that:

“The substance of my faith in God, belief in Jesus Christ, and experience of the Holy Spirit is best summarized in general accordance with the creedal statements of the Reformed tradition found in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Heidelberg Catechism … .”

And in his town hall meeting with faculty and staff, Le Roy made it clear that his desire to serve at Calvin had everything to do with his beliefs aligning with the mission of the college.

“Serving Calvin College, with a mission connected to my own deep theological commitments, is more important to me than serving any institution as its president. I am honored and humbled to be called to Calvin at this time in its history.”

Le Roy’s appointment still needs the approval of the Christian Reformed Church’s Synod this June. With approval, Le Roy will begin his duties as president this summer and will be officially inaugurated Oct. 17, 2012.

“The search committee endeavored to listen well to our community during the search,” said Holberg. “The enthusiastic reception of Dr. Le Roy tells me that folks feel heard. Calvin College is going to continue to be an exciting place to be.”