June 29, 2020 | Matt Kucinski


Calvin University is receiving an $11 million gift that will deepen the institution’s commitment to teach from a Reformed Christian perspective and expand its ability to shape Reformed Christian thought leadership around the world.

“This significant gift will enable every faculty member at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary to be trained to think deeply about the integration of faith and learning from a Reformed perspective and help our faculty implement the best practices in doing this important work,” said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin University.

A deep and strong legacy

The gift is from the estates of the late Rimmer and Ruth de Vries, the couple who funded the establishment of the Global Faculty Development Institute at Calvin in 2018. During their lives they also endowed Calvin’s annual Kuyper Conference and the Kuyper Prize, both named after 19th-century Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper.

This most recent gift will enable faculty to have release time from teaching responsibility so they can take courses that will advance Christian understanding, provide time for faculty to develop curriculum and scholarship to enable Christian thought leadership, and offer opportunities for faculty members to receive mentoring from experienced faculty peers. In short, it will provide faculty an opportunity to deepen and strengthen their understanding of Reformed thinking—the idea that because all areas of study and life matter to God, then they are also worthy of renewal in the name of Jesus Christ. This means faculty’s ability to integrate faith and learning is essential in shaping their students and influencing their fields.

Shaping faculty around the world

“No other Christian college or university in the world has a resource like this institute,” said Le Roy, who says the institute will be renamed The de Vries Institute for Global Faculty Development after the donors. “We are so grateful for the generosity of Ruth and Rimmer.

Their gift will assure that Calvin remains a leader in providing the finest Reformed Christian education, and their legacy will extend far beyond the Calvin community.” Le Roy says the institute will serve Christian faculty in higher education institutions around the world through seminars, conferences, independent projects, and through shared access to digital teaching and scholarly resources.

“The institute will enable Christian leaders and faculty to deepen their understanding of the Reformed tradition,” said Le Roy. This is a value that Ruth and Rimmer and our Calvin community share, the idea that there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence of which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry ‘mine’.”

“Abraham Kuyper’s world-and-life view has profoundly shaped the intellectual and theological work of both Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary,” said Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary. “The university and seminary’s ability to share a Reformed vision depends on the extent to which our faculty embrace a deeply Reformed Christian mission and vision, are themselves shaped and formed by it, and are able to translate this vision into every part of their teaching, scholarship, service, and global outreach. So, this institute provides an ideal platform for us to equip both our faculty and Christian leaders around the world.”

Leading the way

“We feel a sense of calling to become a leading source for Reformed Christian thinking in the world,” said Le Roy. “We have a strong Christian liberal arts foundation for all learning, breadth and depth of program offerings that are among the widest in Christian higher education, and a rootedness in a Reformed Christian tradition that confesses that Jesus is Lord and seeks understanding in every field of knowledge. Most importantly, we have an enduring mission of equipping students to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world, that compels us to do this work well.”

The de Vries Institute for Global Faculty Development is the latest of 12 centers and institutes at Calvin University. The centers and institutes help Calvin promote Christian thought and action in key areas of education and culture.

About Calvin University

Founded in 1876, Calvin University is a top-ranked, liberal arts institution located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that equips its nearly 3,600 students from 45 U.S. states, 63 countries, and seven Canadian provinces to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. Calvin is proud to offer 100+ majors and programs, including graduate-level offerings in accounting, education, and speech pathology and audiology. Calvin students engage in intensive internships, community-based service learning, and significant research that results in publishing and presenting alongside world-class faculty. Discover more at www.calvin.edu.

About Calvin Theological Seminary

Calvin Theological Seminary is about preparing faithful, creative, and compassionate leaders who will nurture disciples, renew churches and be bearers of shalom to a world in turmoil. Its Reformed approach to theological education uniquely equips students to face the complexities of ministry in this rapidly changing world. All of this happens through an experience that joins head, heart, and hands together in joyful response to God’s sovereign claim over all creation. Learn more at www.calvinseminary.edu.

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