After 10 years as director of the Broene Counseling Center, Randy Wolthuis is leaving Calvin to re-enter private practice as a specialist in marital issues. Wolthuis, who came to Calvin in 2000 from his former job as the corporate director of outpatient services at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, transitions out of the director role in May. He said he’d miss working with Calvin students and playing keyboard in Calvin Chapel. He said he’d also miss the Calvin community—especially his staff.
How did you come to Calvin?
I was happy at Pine Rest. I got a generic letter in the mail. They sent it to majors and alumni. I looked at it a bit and said, ‘That’s interesting.’ So I decided to apply, but I wasn’t excited about it. I got a message on the machine, but I still wasn’t excited. It was when I got to the interview that I got excited, and that was because I saw early on that I could make a difference, and also I saw the caliber of people I’d be working with in student life. It wasn’t too long, and I was pretty enthused.
How have you liked working with college students?
It’s a fun age to work with because they’re going through a host of psychological stages at that age … There’s so much going on in their life in terms of their career, their Christian faith and relationships. All of these things are in flux, and they’re open to input and desire it from a respected third party.
What are the challenges of working with college students?
There are more students who are (now) able to go to college who have more serious mental illness ... because of the meds that are available. And if they’re not compliant with their meds, they require more management.
What changes have you made at Broene in the last 10 years?
When I was hired, there (were) two main agendas. One was to improve the caliber of care. The other was to be more visible. I’m really proud that I’ve done that. I mean, students just flock to us because they like what we offer, and they tell their friends. It’s not parents. It’s not professors. It’s not RDs. It’s another student. One of the great perks of the job is to run into students who you know have benefitted from the work … I also get a lot of gratification from seeing people get better.
What else have you enjoyed about working at Calvin?
I feel privileged and blessed to have been here. I think long-term employees tend to take this place for granted. I remember when I came here 10 years ago, I said, “This place is rich.” I didn’t mean just in money, but in people, resources … My (Broene) staff is just golden. I’m leaving the best group of people I’ve worked with in my life.
What are you looking forward to about private practice?
I really enjoy working with marital couples. It’s an area of specialty. While I was here, I’ve done all of the premarital stuff, but I really haven’t had the opportunity to work with distressed married couples as much as I would like … And I like the idea of finishing my career the way I started it, doing clinical work—has a nice symmetry to it.