July 30, 2014 | Matt Kucinski

Shirley Hoogstra will become the seventh president of the CCCU.

The Board of Directors of the Council of Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) has selected Shirley Hoogstra as the organization’s next president. She will assume her new role on September 29, 2014.

Hoogstra comes with a wealth of experience, including 20 years as an executive leader in higher education at Calvin College—first as a board of trustees member and then in her 15-year tenure as Calvin’s vice president of student life.

“Shirley will be an outstanding servant-leader for the CCCU in her role as president,” said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin College. “She is passionate about Christian higher education and its capacity to shape the lives of students. In addition, I am confident that Shirley will also be an excellent advocate and bridge builder as she explains the mission of Christian higher education to audiences unfamiliar with our sector’s approach to teaching, learning and scholarship. The Council’s gain is Calvin College’s loss, but this appointment gives me great hope for the future of the CCCU.”

Intersection of experience and passion

Hoogstra brings extensive legal expertise to her new position as well, having spent 13 years prior to coming to Calvin practicing law as a partner in New Haven, Conn. Andrea Cook, president of Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore., chaired the CCCU’s presidential search committee. She says Hoogstra’s breadth and depth of experience and her passion for Christian higher education pushed her to the top of a national search that began back in February.

It is imperative that institutions are represented by a leader passionate about our mission, savvy when considering legal and political liabilities, and grounded in Christ,” said Cook. “Shirley is all of these, and I have full confidence that she is the right person to lead us in such a time as this.”

“[I’m excited for] this opportunity because I am passionate about Christian education generally and Christian higher education specifically,” Hoogstra said.          "The world is increasingly complex and the liberal arts education that CCCU schools offer prepares students to understand why faith deeply matters to people.”

Demonstrated commitment

Based in the nation’s capital, the CCCU is a higher education association of 175 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. Charles W. Pollard, chair of the CCCU Board of Directors and president of John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark., says Hoogstra has developed a deep understanding and knowledge of the organization and its members through 14 years of voluntary service to the CCCU—both at the institutional and association level.

“[Shirley] knows firsthand the heartbeat of the organization and its membership—the people who carry out the mission of Christian higher education. Moreover, she is a person of deep faith, humble courage, intuitive judgment, legal insight and convicted civility, characteristics which will enable her to represent the CCCU winsomely and effectively in Washington and elsewhere.” 

Encouraged in her call

Hoogstra’s colleagues at Calvin College are appreciative of her leadership and say her call to the CCCU presidency will allow her to use the gifts she’s honed at Calvin to serve the greater good of Christian higher education.

“CCCU is getting an amazing leader who is adaptable, gracious and hard working,” said Dan Meester, who serves on Calvin’s board of trustees and is the superintendent of Holland Christian Schools in Holland, Mich. “Shirley has a way of bringing people together for respectful discussion so that everyone is heard and each point of view is appreciated.”

“She exemplifies a combination of great leadership skills, an incredible love for our students and a heart for Christian higher education,” said Sally Vander Ploeg, vice president for administration and finance at Calvin College. “These traits, along with her excellent legal reasoning, will serve the CCCU so very well in the years to come.”

And while her credentials are significant, her colleagues say her collaborative leadership style, her ability to listen well and effectively engage in dialogue around challenging topics and her genuine care for those she serves make her a great choice for this new role.

“Many people know the public face of Shirley—up in front, speaking, inspiring others—but she's done amazing work behind the scenes,” said Mary Hulst, chaplain at Calvin College. “Through the years she has led small groups of students on the topic of leadership, she has collaborated with faculty members on committees, and in her own division everyone knows that Shirley is both your best ally and the one who will always call on you to do your best.”

Longtime Calvin College chemistry professor Larry Louters was a member of the search committee back in 1999 that recommended Hoogstra for her current role. He says he was impressed with her enthusiasm and the thoughtful manner in which she interacted with people of diverse backgrounds: "She maintains the valuable skill set that she had when she came to Calvin and has added a wealth of experience in higher education. I think she is ideally suited for her new position, but she will be greatly, greatly missed at Calvin.”

Hoogstra earned her Juris Doctor, with honors, from the University of Connecticut School of Law and her bachelor’s degree in regular and special education from Calvin College.

See the CCCU president-elect's site for more information on Hoogstra, including endorsements from leaders in higher education.

Hoogstra on the set of InnerCompass

Hoogstra interacting with students at Calvin

Hoogstra participates with her son in Calvin's annual Sem Pond Jump

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