August 03, 2022 | Matt Kucinski

On left: Operations and Supply Chain Management text, On right: Headshot of man in suit

More time waiting.

More money spent.

More stress.

These are real pains consumers feel when the supply chain gets disrupted.

For the past two years, supply chain issues have caused consumers to wait months to get a new car, spend more on groceries, and anxiously wait for the next paycheck to combat the higher cost of living.

Listening to industry leaders

Philip Johnson, an assistant professor in the School of Business at Calvin University, has spent the majority of his career in finance, supply chain management, and operations roles for a large agricultural original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and an electronics supplier for multiple OEM end-user markets. In his experience, he has seen the ways the supply chain has not only affected consumers, but also businesses.

“If stuff doesn’t show up, I can’t run my business,” said Johnson.

During his nearly two decades in industry, he discovered that both understanding how to operate a business and having a detailed knowledge of how the supply chain works are both crucial elements for those wanting to succeed in business. This was confirmed by business leader after business leader as he consulted them in creating a supply chain management program at Calvin.

He also surveyed the higher education landscape and found an ample “supply” of supply chain management programs. What Johnson also found was an opportunity to build a program that leverages Calvin’s unique perspective to add a competitive offering to the market.

Supplying in-demand graduates

“Our program is unique in many ways, but one of the first is simply in the name,” said Johnson.

This fall, Calvin University is launching the Operations and Supply Chain Management program. Johnson says having a deep understanding of both areas is crucial to immediate and future success in the industry.

“As we have seen in great detail in the last few years—with empty shelves, price increases, and inflation, you really struggle to run a good operation without solid supply chain knowledge and you also cannot effectively build and manage a supply chain without engagement and understanding of your operations,” said Johnson.

“In designing the program, we talked to multiple business leaders in various industries about the skills that are needed today, but also the skills needed for graduates in five- or ten-years' time and those skills that are needed to advance in leadership. This helped us build a program that leverages knowledge and speed to deliver something appealing to prospective employers.”

As part of the program, students will take upper-level courses in multiple business disciplines including marketing, accounting, and negotiation. And, like all programs at Calvin, the program is supported by a top-notch liberal arts core that prepares students not only for their first job out of school, but to make an impact as they advance throughout their career.

Gaining global experience

Calvin’s program is also unique in that it requires students to take an international course between one’s junior and senior years. The goal is to engage students in practical ways as they explore the truly global aspects of supply chains through direct involvement.

“In this course, we examine the differences and importance of technical skills like quality management and manufacturing, cost differences between global regions and logistics impact, but we also truly think through the impact that global business has on communities,” said Johnson. “We think through the impact that making a sourcing decision has on economic opportunities in the locations where we buy from, but with our focus on operations, also the impact that setting up an operation in global locations has on the well-being of those communities. We further evaluate approaches to being a good corporate citizen and our calling to improve the world.”

Johnson says the intentionality behind the design of the program really boils down to fulfilling Calvin’s mission to equip students to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.

“When I was in industry, I loved hiring grads from liberal arts programs, because people who go to liberal arts institutions are taught a way to think where they have to apply different problem-solving techniques to different problems. So, employers love that,” said Johnson. “But where Calvin provides even greater value to students is in how they learn to integrate their faith with their learning. Our faith teaches us how to treat people well. It’s baked into who we are. That is where the Reformed perspective and the deep theological roots we have and our push for redemption of society and for shalom within business relationships is just so significant.”

Calvin means business

Learn from world-class faculty with years of industry experience.

Choose from a growing portfolio of undergraduate and graduate-level offerings.

Develop your skills in the new state-of-the-art School of Business building.

Start by scheduling an on-campus or virtual visit.

Save the Date

You are invited to campus on September 14, 2022 for the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Calvin University School of Business. The event is from 5-7:30 p.m. Contact for more information.

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