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NetVUE Regional Conference

  • May 16, 2024–May 18, 2024
  • Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Mich.

What are the responsibilities of institutions of higher education to the cities in which they reside? What creative and innovative roles can institutions play in promoting equity and flourishing, particularly in marginalized and underrepresented parts of their cities and communities? What strategies can universities use to be better partners to their surrounding communities?

Higher Education, Vocation & the City

During this regional event, we seek to bring together universities, community partners, and city officials to explore the vocation of the university as it relates to the city in which it resides. City officials and community leaders will share perspectives on civic engagement at colleges and universities, and will consider the impact—both positive and negative—that this work can have on the community.

Using Grand Rapids as a model, participants will discuss best practices and lessons learned for relationships between higher education institutions and their cities, and for exploring civic engagement and place-based learning with students. An emphasis will be placed on listening to community voices in order to align institutions more closely with their communities and to promote justice and flourishing within the city. Throughout the event, participants will discuss pedagogies and institutional policies and explore case studies of engagement that they can take back to their own universities, programs, and cities.

The event is hosted by Calvin University in partnership with Aquinas College and Cornerstone University.


Registration for this event is now closed. Find the dates for additional NetVUE regional gatherings


The following conference sessions are open to the public if you are interested in attending.

Friday, May 17, 2024

  • 9:00–10:00 a.m. Keynote Panel: Hearing from the City (Calvin Chapel)
    • Moderator: Kevin den Dulk, Calvin University
    • Addie Donley, Community Organizer
    • Brandon Davis, City of Grand Rapids
    • Dennis C. Triggs, Urban League of West Michigan
    • Latesha Lipscomb, Amplify GR

  • 10:1511:15 a.m. Keynote Panel: University Leaders (Calvin Chapel)
    • Moderator: Katharina Häusler-Gross, Aquinas College
    • Alicia Córdoba, Aquinas College
    • Greg Elzinga, Calvin University
    • Sheila Jones, Grand Rapids Community College

  • 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Models of Good Community Partnerships (Calvin Chapel)
    • Moderator: Brigid Avery, Aquinas College
    • Trina Edmondson, Disability Advocates of Kent County
    • Jenn Schaub, Dwelling Place
    • Joy Sparks, Fresh Coast Alliance

  • 3:004:00 p.m. The Promises and Perils of Place-Based Learning (Calvin Chapel)
    • Gail Heffner, Calvin University

Saturday, May 18, 2024

  • 11:30 a.m.12:15 p.m. Can Higher Education Provide Grounds of Unity Across Divides? (Calvin Chapel)
    • Noah Toly, Calvin University

Meals and Accommodations

Full registration with lodging includes two nights of accommodation (Thursday and Friday night) at the Prince Conference Center (an on-campus hotel at Calvin University). We will take care of your reservation at Prince Conference Center if you indicate the need for lodging during registration.

On Thursday, we will open with a Cookies & Coffee discussion and provide dinner. On Friday, breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with RSVP) will be provided. On Saturday, breakfast and boxed lunches will be provided.


All attendees are responsible for their own travel to Calvin University Campus. Gerald R. Ford airport is the best option for flights. Once on campus, all other locations are within walking distance or bussing will be available. On-campus parking will also be available.


Margie Styf

This event is made possible by the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE). NetVUE is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc.


May 2024
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