July 10, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

Four years. It’s the time that most students allot to complete a bachelor’s degree. And at a place like Calvin, a lot of individual formation can happen within those 1,460 days. It’s because the curricular and co-curricular experiences at Calvin all push students to think deeply, act justly, and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.

But, during that same period, an institution can also experience formation and transformation. In 2019, Calvin, the institution, set forth Vision 2030, and with it came changing its last name from “college” to “university.” That name change, while the most obvious and outward facing of Vision 2030, signaled things to come. And in just four years, much has happened.

Here are 10 of the ways Calvin has transformed since July 10, 2019. Note: This list is representative, not exhaustive.

1. Added new schools and spaces
Calvin strategically reorganized its structure with the establishment of the School of Business, School of Education, School of Health, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and the School of STEM. Thanks to generous gifts, the School of Business has a new state-of-the-art space and renovations to the School of Health-related facilities are getting underway.


2. Opened the door wide to nontraditional learners
In just four years, Calvin’s graduate-level offerings have tripled, with the university now offering 11 graduate programs. With more than 350 graduate students currently enrolled, Calvin’s graduate-level offerings are expanding rapidly.

Today, Calvin serves residential undergraduate and graduate students, students at the Handlon Campus through the Calvin Prison Initiative program, transfer students and online learners, and students in the university’s Ready for Life program. Calvin also serves adult learners who are seeking certificates.

3. Deepened institution’s faith commitment
In 2019, the university launched The de Vries institute for Global Faculty Development in an effort to deepen and strengthen faculty’s commitment to the integration of faith and learning in meaningful, authentic, and transformative ways, both in their teaching and their scholarship.


4. Reached record-setting fundraising marks
Four of the past five fiscal years have been Calvin’s highest fundraising years, including a record-setting 2020 with $64.3 million raised.

5. Added depth to excellent athletic program
One of the country’s best athletic programs both academically and athletically added to its depth. In 2019, the university added a Division I men’s ice hockey team to complement its Division III team. In 2022, the university also added football, men’s volleyball, and women’s acrobatics and tumbling.


6. Expanded international footprint
The doors to a Calvin education have never been more open. Students from more than 90 countries submitted their applications to Calvin for the 2023-2024 school year. The interest, which represents nearly half the countries in the world, is record-setting, and continues Calvin’s international momentum. For 2022-2023, Calvin welcomed 173 first-year students from outside the United States, more than 17-percent of the class, which is a record for the university.

7. Deepened commitment to diversity
As Calvin was shifting from college to university, it launched a strategic diversity and inclusion action plan. The Leadership Development Program for Under-Represented Calvin Staff (LDPU) launched in 2022 as a tangible way of working toward one of the strategic plan’s objectives to “increase the presence of international faculty and staff and those from historically underrepresented groups in leadership roles to approximate their proportion of the faculty and staff.”


8. Became an arboretum
In 2022, ArbNet designated Calvin’s campus of 4,000 trees as an arboretum. While having an arboretum on a college campus isn’t necessarily uncommon, having an entire campus designated that way is quite rare.

9. Became a national leader in prison education
In 2022, leaders of the U.S. Department of Education visited the Calvin Prison Initiative Program and called it a “leading exemplar” for prison education. Earlier that year, the university held the graduation of its first three cohorts inside prison walls—the first time a bachelor’s degree ceremony has happened inside prison in the history of the state.


10. Made successful presidential transition
Former president Michael Le Roy helped Calvin establish a firm financial foundation during his tenure, positioning the institution well to pursue Vision 2030 and to move Calvin from a “college” to a “university.” In 2022, President Wiebe Boer became Calvin’s 12th president and has helped Calvin expand its international footprint and find ways to act on Calvin’s compelling vision.

There are many more exciting things happening and on the horizon for Calvin that didn’t make the representative (not exhaustive) list above. And, as Calvin moves into its 148th year of existence, it’s a year of continued momentum. From an increasing presence of national and international scholarship from world-class faculty to the construction of new indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance the student experience, from the re-establishment of a downtown presence to an evolving campus energy plan, Calvin is on the move and is continuing to open new paths for undergraduate, graduate, and certificate-seeking learners of all ages from around the corner and across the globe.

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