A Calvin University search committee has selected Nygil Likely as the institution’s next chief diversity officer. Likely currently serves as vice president of student affairs at Lake Michigan College (LMC). He will begin his tenure at Calvin on June 1, 2023.
“This feels like a full-circle moment for me,” said Likely, who served as director of college access programs at Calvin from 2014-2019 before he left to pursue executive-level leadership experience. “I’m excited to be able to re-enter a space that I have a fondness and passion for.”
Likely has 23 years of experience in the higher education and non-profit sectors. He’s served as associate vice chancellor of enrollment management at City Colleges of Chicago, career development manager at Gerald R. Ford Corps Center, and as program director for YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. For the past four years he’s overseen admissions and recruiting, student life, student support services, athletics, and other areas at Lake Michigan College.
Building on a strong foundation
Likely steps into a role that was created in 2015 by former president Michael Le Roy. The role, which has been filled by Michelle Loyd-Paige for the past decade, aims to provide strategic leadership for the university’s work to foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Loyd-Paige for the many ways she’s laid a solid foundation for diversity and inclusion work at Calvin during her nearly four decades of service here,” said Wiebe Boer, president of Calvin University. “We are also eager for the many ways Nygil Likely will help us as an institution continue to develop as a leader among Christian higher education institutions in this space.”
Loyd-Paige is excited that Likely will continue this important work. She’s also encouraged that as she retires, the diversity represented at both the executive-level and faculty is only increasing.
“I’m not sure people realize how much diversity is under attack at many other Christian institutions,” said Loyd-Paige. “So, for Calvin to be stepping up its presence of diversity is really quite remarkable.”
Committed to leading
Likely has experience in executive-level leadership, built and overseen the diversity program at LMC, and has experience directing multiple teams. Loyd-Paige also says as an ordained pastor, Likely brings a relational, pastoral element to this role, which she says is helpful in building relationships and trust.
“Being able to speak into the decisions that are made and the strategy of how to move the institution forward just reaffirms for me and everyone else that Calvin is committed to this work,” said Likely. “I hope that in five-to-ten years Calvin is even more of a leader in the space of DEI and that the institution is still leading the way in terms of making equitable change across the state and the world. We should, as Christians, be leading the way.”
President Boer co-chaired the search committee with Andy George, associate vice president for human resources. The nine-member search committee consisted of members of the university’s faculty, administration, and staff. The national search, which commenced in January 2023, resulted in a large qualified pool of applicants from across the United States.