October 24, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

On October 26, 2022, Wiebe Boer was inaugurated as the 12th president of Calvin University. A year later, we are looking back at ways that the Calvin University community has worked together to create momentum over the past 365 days. Note: This list is meant to be representative, not exhaustive.

1. Increased enrollment

In 2023-2024, total enrollment at Calvin University exceeded 3,300, with more than 1,100 students joining Calvin in its incoming class. This represents a more than 10% increase in incoming students year-on-year and includes growth in various student populations, including first-generation, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), international, athletes, those from the CRCNA, and from the state of Michigan.

2. Added Three Varsity Sports


As part of the university’s athletics strategic plan, men’s football, men’s volleyball, and women’s acrobatics and tumbling are added to Calvin’s portfolio of NCAA Division III athletic offerings.

3. Launched Phase 1 of the Commons Union Project

The Commons Union project represents an investment in the student experience by creating vibrant spaces for connection and learning. Phase 1 of the project began in summer 2023 and involves renovating three levels of the library building.

4. Held Presidential Inauguration behind bars


On Friday, January 13, 2023, Calvin University held a presidential inauguration for Wiebe Boer on Calvin’s campus inside Handlon Correctional Facility. The event is believed to be the first-ever inauguration held inside an active prison.

5. Engaged alumni and friends of Calvin around the world

Since joining Calvin, President Boer has traveled extensively to connect with alumni, friends, CRC communities, and prospective students around the world. In 2022 and 2023 he participated, often along with First Lady Mrs. Joanna Boer, in nearly 40 events in eight countries and on four continents. Note: International interest in Calvin is on the rise. In fact, in 2023 Calvin received applications from a record-setting 90 countries.

6. Created the Marketing and Communications Division


In 2023, Calvin selected La’Leatha Spillers as the vice president for marketing and communications. Spillers, who has 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, fundraising, and public relations, is leading a newly created division in an effort to help the university advance its reputation and better tell its story.

7. Launched the 49507 Initiative

In seeking the welfare of the city, Calvin is partnering closely with community organizations, institutions, employers, and engaging with church leaders in a neighboring zip code (49507) in southeast Grand Rapids where higher education is not available. Starting in summer 2024, Calvin and its partners will be launching Wayfinder, an innovative humanities program for adult learners, as well as other learning experiences in health, education, and business.

8. Deepened partnerships locally and globally


Calvin signed Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) with multiple local and global university partners in South Korea, Indonesia, Hungary, Kenya, Nigeria, and in Grand Rapids, representing a commitment to foster partnerships of mutual educational benefit for students and faculty. Locally, the university recently signed an MOU that provides Grand Rapids Community College students with a smoother pathway to transfer to Calvin University.

9. Created Advisory Councils

The president’s office formed advisory councils, including an Emeriti Advisory Council where the president regularly engages with retired faculty and the Community Advisory Council which involves listening sessions with BIPOC leaders from civic, business, education, and church organizations.

10. Began Phase 1 of Outdoor Athletics Complex


The first phase of the Outdoor Athletics Complex kicked off in late spring 2023 and now includes a new turf soccer field on the main campus. At the Gainey Athletic Fields, a new track was recently completed with adjacent spaces for various field throwing events. The existing cross country course is also being redesigned in this initial phase with a new soccer and lacrosse practice field being constructed near the track.

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