On October 3, 2007, the Van Lunen Center was dedicated with a cohort of 22 Fellows. Today nearly 400 heads of Christian schools have completed this distinctive executive management education program, and their leadership impacts nearly a half million students in Christian schools worldwide. Fellows are leading their school communities with increased knowledge, confidence, and renewed faith.


In July 2007, the Van Lunen Center was established at Calvin College, now university, in Grand Rapids, Michigan to provide world-class executive management training for heads of schools based on the historic Christian faith. The Center was named for Richard D. Van Lunen, whose foundation initially gave charitable grants to Christian schools for new programs and building projects.

The year-long Fellows program is led by faculty who are current or former heads of Christian schools. During the year, each Fellow is required to complete an applied project drawn from new skills and information received during Van Lunen sessions. At the heart of the program is its “Big Tent” philosophy with more than 20 different faith traditions represented among all Van Lunen Fellows from the U.S., Canada, and abroad.

In November 2021, the Van Lunen Center held its first continuing professional development event, “Van Lunen 2.0: Excellence in Christian Education in a Changing Culture” at Calvin University. Renowned speakers, as well as Van Lunen Fellows faculty and alumni, presented keynotes and breakout sessions to learn from and with each other. The last Van Lunen 2.0 professional development event was held November 1-4, 2023; the title for this event was “Van Lunen 2.0: Sustaining Excellence in Christian Education.”

Van Lunen Fellows Program

The Van Lunen Center Fellows Program is an executive management training program for heads of schools based on the historic Christian faith. It is designed for those who have been in their leadership positions for at least one year and report directly to the governing board of their schools. They lead schools large and small, rural and urban, and in wealthy and underserved communities. Program participants (Fellows) are from the U.S., Canada, and abroad. They represent 20 different faith traditions.

Each year a cohort of 20-24 Fellows participates in the Center’s year-long training program that includes three weeks in residence. The first and third sessions are in July at the host school, Calvin University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan; the second session is in winter at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Faculty for the Fellows program are six current heads of Christian schools and/or former heads of Christian schools along with specialists and consultants for specific topics. The curriculum contains strategic planning, change management, advancement, fundraising & development, marketing & enrollment, and board governance – plus occasional specialized subjects. An applied project must be completed during the management training program that benefits each Fellow’s school. Drawn from new skills and information received in Van Lunen sessions, and guided by faculty experts, the applied project is the culmination of each Fellow’s Van Lunen Center experience. At the final July session, Fellows present their project that reflects its impact on their schools. Browse through the list of applied projects.

Van Lunen Ascending Leaders Program

Built on the successful Van Lunen Center Fellows Program, the Ascending Leaders Program is designed to equip aspiring leaders with executive management education in preparation for new leadership roles. The program is designed and directed by Christian school leaders who have management experience, expertise, and a longstanding association with the Center's Fellows program. This program consists of three four-day sessions in residence at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, during July and a winter session in January at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Curriculum topics include mission and vision, principles of leadership, budgeting and finance management, board governance, personnel assessment and management, and personal and spiritual leadership. 

Core values that form the basis of all programs are:

  • Distinctively Christian: We are committed to Christian principles for executive management education.
  • Big Tent: We intentionally recruit Fellows and Ascending Leaders from differing Christian traditions and create an environment where Fellows respect and learn from these traditions.
  • Excellent: Excellence in instruction and continuing support for Christian school leaders is central to our mission.
  • Diverse: We are diverse by design with respect to culture, ethnicity, gender, school size, Christian tradition, curriculum, and pedagogy.
  • Collaborative: We partner with organizations that are committed to enhancing the future of Christian schools and work with a variety of school associations to that end.
  • Applied: Heads of school and ascending leaders implement ideas, skills, and projects in the context of their own schools. We are committed to on-the-ground applicability.