Faculty Profile: Doug Vander Griend

Faculty Profile

Doug Vander Griend has a PhD in inorganic chemistry from Northwestern University. He has taught in Calvin’s chemistry department for 10 years. 

By Allison Graff

Professor Doug Vander Griend is all about creating chemistry in the classroom—in more ways than just the obvious one.

He’s a prof you might have as soon as your first semester at Calvin if “General Chemistry” is part of your academic program (think pre-med, engineering or chemistry).  And because his classes have quite a few first-year students in them, he tries to create an atmosphere where people get to know each other—and him.

“The more time you spend with a class, the more the internal culture and chemistry tends to improve. Students get more comfortable with everything,” said Prof. Vander Griend.

Why should you get to know your profs and classmates in college?

Prof. Vander Griend thinks it might help you do better in class—particularly in a subject that’s as challenging as chemistry. By encouraging discussion and feedback, he hopes students will feel comfortable enough to talk to him if they’re not doing well.

“A lot of students think, ‘Oh, I got a bad grade? I just have to try harder.’ But there about 10 ways to try harder and seven of them might not be very effective for you.”

Professors, if you talk to them, can help you figure out what really went wrong with a test or assignment, he says.

“We’re used to reading test results more like a fingerprint rather than just a number at the top.”

“At large universities, you might be in a first-semester chemistry course with 300 or more people. You’ll have a midterm and a final. You’ll enter your number code at the top and then you’ll get your report card at the end. That’s it.”

At Calvin, where the average class size is 22 students and no class is larger than 50–60 students, you’ll have alot of opportunities to impact your final grade—and talk to your prof about it.

To Prof. Vander Griend, it’s more than just the class size that makes it easy to interact with your professors at Calvin. The faith commitment of Calvin profs makes for a completely different learning environment.

“We understand that this is not just our job, it’s the reason we’re here: to help students succeed.”