August 30, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

A man in mid 30s in a white polo shirt smiles seated in his office in front of his computer screen
Tyler Greenway graduated from Calvin University in 2011. This year, he joins the Calvin University faculty.

This fall semester is Tyler Greenway’s first at Calvin. Well, his first as a professor.

Fifteen years ago, Greenway experienced his first semester as a student.

“I came into Calvin and thought maybe I would be an economics major. I thought it sounded like business, but I had no idea,” said Greenway. “I actually never ended up taking an economics class.”

Course correction

He never stepped foot on that path, because of one class, which caused a change of course.

“Because of core, I took an intro to psychology course,” said Greenway. “Because of that course, I fell in love with psychology.”

The man teaching that course, Blake Riek, happened to be in his first semester at Calvin. “Because of Blake, I took another course and kept falling in love with psychology. I kept taking more and more classes, and it became my major.”

It's clear Riek had a formidable impact on Greenway, and what’s even more fitting is that Greenway’s office sits right next door to Riek’s, and Greenway is now teaching the last course he took with Riek at Calvin.

“He taught psychology and religion, and that course got me interested in psychology of religion. It’s been a huge part of my life.”

Guided to graduate school

After graduating from Calvin in 2011, Greenway went to Calvin Theological Seminary to pursue an MDIV, with intentions of going into ministry.

“After that I had questions about faith formation, and how psychology could serve ministry,” said Greenway.

So, Greenway turned to another one of his guides from Calvin University for advice, psychology professor Julie Yonker, who he credits with helping him develop a lot of his research gifts.

“I met with Julie wondering about some of these questions about faith formation, ministry, and how they integrate together. I asked Julie if I should read some books or if there was a course I needed to take but I didn’t think I was interested in more graduate education yet.”

Greenway said Yonker recommended a new program at Fuller Theological Seminary, which she thought would be a good fit for him.

With Yonker’s encouragement, he took the GRE and ended up in Pasadena, California, in his words “all because of Calvin professors.”

Greenway would go on to earn his PhD in psychological science. The research-focused degree allowed him to study a lot about the intersection of psychology, spirituality, and religion.

He would spend the next few years as research director for Fuller Youth Institute, an institute that focuses on turning research into resources for youth ministry leaders. And then this past year, Greenway was an associate research scientist in the Science of Virtues Lab at Baylor University.

Returning to Calvin

This summer, Greenway returned to Calvin.

“I love Calvin and its mission. In many ways, Calvin is home for me. As an alum I know that my professors have impacted me in some strong ways, helped me grow, and encouraged me to pursue certain things. I would love to continue serving students in that way,” said Greenway.

So as Greenway begins his first semester teaching at Calvin, he aims to be a guide to his students, some who are stepping onto campus for the first time. He is also excited to be teaching and researching in a place where he can pursue his interests together and collaborate across disciplinary lines.

“One of my big passions is psychological or social scientific research - I love that - but I also love the church and ministry. I’m an ordained minister in the CRC (Christian Reformed Church). So, two things I really love – research and ministry - and I can participate in those things by themselves, but Calvin is one of these special places where I can bring those two together.”

“Interdisciplinary work is valued and encouraged here, which is not true everywhere,” said Greenway. “It’s encouraged for you to think about how psychological research can integrate with theology or philosophy or engineering or whatever. These kinds of projects aren’t just okay, they are good things at Calvin.”

While Greenway appreciates the freedom to explore and collaborate himself, he is most excited about opening opportunities for students to discover more about themselves, their interests, and where God might use them in the future.

“I love the opportunity to care for students as they navigate these pivotal moments in life,” said Greenway. “My time at Calvin changed the plans I had for my life, and it was because of professors who were excellent teachers and mentors.”

Greenway hopes to do the same.

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