October 03, 2022 | Matt Kucinski

A logo for the 12th president and Calvin University next to the observatory with telescope

President Wiebe Boer is the 12th president of Calvin University. So, during the month of October, each Monday leading up to Inauguration, we are going to be sharing a “Top 12” list. Since we are creating these lists in honor of our new president and his 100th day in office falls this week, we’ve asked him to curate a list of 12 things he has discovered about Calvin during his first three months on the job.

Here's his list, which is meant to be representative, not exhaustive:

1. We have a full cross-country course on our campus. This is remarkable as Calvin’s Grand Rapids campus is located in the middle of a city, so to have a full 8K (five-mile) course here is a huge asset to our community.

2. We have an Ecosystem Preserve on our campus that spans 100 acres. What other university has this? Our professors and students use this space for research and it’s a beautiful space to get away and find respite. What a gift to Calvin and the greater west Michigan community. As a side note, we have a mini tropical rainforest inside our Science Building. I’ll probably spend part of February in there!

3. You can find art all over this campus in all shapes and forms. From the lobby of the new state-of-the-art School of Business building to the underpass that connects the east and west-side of campuses. We also have a beautiful Center Art Gallery that hosts multiple art exhibitions throughout the year.

4. We are a global campus. Our students hail from 55 countries, 48 U.S. states, and 5 Canadian provinces. This year, a record percentage of our incoming class is joining us from outside the United States. We continue to be one of the leaders in international enrollment among all of higher ed institutions.

5. My sons have quite a playground right in their own backyard. It spans 400 acres and is complete with a 40-foot-tall rock climbing wall, underground tunnels, lots of cool looking shiny rocks, and a space to play any and every possible sport imaginable.

6. Our athletics program is second to none. I ran cross country back in the 90s, but since I left, we’ve won 10 more national championships in four different sports. And our fall sports teams are really performing well with five of our teams currently ranked inside the top 25 in NCAA Division III. And during Homecoming Weekend our hockey program at Calvin celebrated its 50th anniversary year. What a proud moment for me as a Canadian citizen!

7. We are leading the way for all of higher education when it comes to prison education. This past month, the undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education visited our Handlon campus (30 miles to the north of the Grand Rapids campus) and was blown away by what the Calvin Prison Initiative program is doing in moral formation and prison transformation. I am too!

8. Our community of learners includes undergraduate, graduate, and certificate-seeking students of all ages, in-person and online. We also provide access to higher education for students with intellectual disabilities through our Ready for Life Academy. While we remain committed to serving our residential undergraduate students well, we are also seeing major growth in our graduate-level programming—our online speech pathology and audiology program being one example to highlight.

9. We are committed to sustainability here. In fact, it was pretty exciting that in my first full week on the job we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SunFundED to pursue solar energy solutions for Calvin.

10. We have some pretty impressive facilities, from amazing art and design studios to beautiful performing art spaces to what I think are the best indoor athletic facilities in all of Division III (our outdoor facilities have a major upgrade coming beginning this year). And in case you didn’t hear, we just opened an amazing new School of Business building this past month. You should come check it out!

11. We have a world class telescope on our campus. And we can access another one remotely that is located in Rehoboth, New Mexico. I also hear our professors and students also make some pretty exciting discoveries with said telescopes.

12. Our alumni and friends of Calvin deeply care about our students. I have met with many over the past three months who in their giving are putting students first. Take for example Jon and Kerrie VerLee who provided a significant financial gift to help launch the Calvin Startup Garage, an entrepreneurial incubator for our students. Jon is also gifting four years of his time as director of the venture and as an entrepreneur-in-residence. This is what investing in students looks like.

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