Overview

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 has animated the work of the institution from the start.

Founded in 1876 by the Christian Reformed Church, Calvin began in a single classroom in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., with one faculty member, one academic discipline, and just seven students. Now, 146 years later, Calvin is a university spread over a 400-acre campus serving 3,300 undergraduate and graduate students in-person and online from almost every U.S. state and 50 countries.

Students explore more than 100 areas of study and are under the guidance of 183 Christ-centered scholar-teachers. Through the university’s 65,000- plus alumni, students witness Calvin’s mission in all areas of culture.

While Calvin’s academic offerings and student body have changed, its compelling mission has endured.

The Mission

Calvin University equips students to think deeply,
to act justly,
and to live wholeheartedly
as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.

The Calvin community lives out the mission every day. As a community of faith and discovery, students are encouraged to seek knowledge and understanding in every corner of God’s creation. No subject is off limits, because all knowledge belongs to God. Faculty and students are called to unpack this knowledge and use it to make a difference in the world.

Christ-centered faculty serve as guides, modeling for students how to integrate their faith into every subject, how to connect their minds, hearts, and hands to serve Jesus Christ and the world.

Calvin is an academically rigorous place of discovery, where students are equipped with critical thinking skills, invited to ask bold questions, and encouraged to explore and apply challenging ideas. Faculty and students from across the various disciplines engage in a shared quest for knowledge and truth, approaching some of the most complex issues with curiosity and conviction.

Values

  • Curiosity & Conviction
  • Boldness & Humility
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Tradition & Innovation

Four students huddle for a group selfie on the Commons Lawn.

The Students

Calvin students are passionate, curious, engaged, and determined to be transformed by their education. They are not content leaving the world the way it is, but are determined to seek a better future for all of God’s creation. In Christ, they are intent on being transformed themselves.

Calvin’s student body, comprised of nearly 3,300 undergraduate and graduate students represents a rich diversity of ages and backgrounds. Calvin attracts students from almost every U.S. state, nearly 50 countries, and four Canadian provinces. About 19% of students are U.S. ethnic minorities, and more than 12% of Calvin’s student body hails from outside the United States. The diversity of learners contributes to a rich learning environment.

Calvin’s diverse academic portfolio allows students to explore 100+ majors, minors, and programs in the visual and performing arts, the humanities, social sciences, STEM, and pre-professional programs. The university’s multi-faceted core curriculum allows students the freedom to chase the wonderings of philosophy, the intricacies of languages foreign and familiar, and the beauty of the world at a molecular level.

And Calvin students explore these ideas both on campus and off, through dozens of programs around the world, from Ghana to Spain to India and beyond. The Calvin experience provides dozens of ways for students to dive into their area of interest through Fellowship programs, intensive internships, community-based service learning, and student scholarship allow students to gain valuable experience beyond their majors. The 12:1 student- to-faculty ratio and numerous one-on-one research opportunities has propelled Calvin into the top five percent of all undergraduate institutions whose graduates go on to earn PhDs.

The Calvin experience extends beyond academics and into the more than 60 student organizations that allow students to express their creativity, create community, and develop their leadership skills. And students from a variety of majors perform in theatre productions, musical ensembles, and compete in varsity athletics. Calvin’s 22 varsity athletic teams consistently achieve success on the court and in the classroom, winning 11 NCAA Division III national titles and earning 134 Academic All-American awards.

The Faculty

Calvin faculty members are committed followers of Christ. They are dedicated to growth in Reformed Christian commitment, pursuit of an active scholarly agenda, effective teaching, and service to the university and the wider community. Calvin faculty are active scholars and respected leaders in their fields. They regularly receive grant funding to support their research, awards to celebrate their accomplishments, and national and international recognition of their distinctive contributions.

Calvin’s 183 full-time and 190 part-time faculty prioritize their students, investing in teaching and advising, integrating faith and learning, and encouraging students to faithfully ask bold questions and to fearlessly pursue truth. With guidance and mentorship from Calvin faculty, students develop into leaders who are eager to work for renewal wherever they are called.

Christian Reformed Church

Calvin University is covenantally supported by the Christian Reformed Church in North America (crcna.org), a bi-national denomination of 1000+ congregations and 200,000+ members, that, in turn, is a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, with member denominations in over 200 countries.

The historic creeds and confessions of Reformed Christianity guide and animate Calvin’s mission, including its approach to academic freedom. Calvin University presents annual reports of its work to the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, the governance body that established Calvin’s mission, appoints its board of trustees, and has final authority over its governing documents. Partnerships with several CRC ministries as well as many other ecclesial ministries nationally and globally offer Calvin University faculty, students and alumni avenues for fruitful service related to many topics of urgent societal concern.

Calvin University’s president is employed by the university and the next president will be appointed by the university’s board of trustees. The next president will also be presented to the Synod for receipt at its meeting in summer 2022.

A beautiful day unfolds over the Commons Lawn at Calvin University.

The Campus

Calvin’s beautiful 400-acre campus in west Michigan is ideally located to create a small, close- knit community feel while providing access to everything the city of Grand Rapids has to offer.

Inspired by the design of William Fyfe, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the campus features prairie-style architecture and a park-like feel with spacious lawns and nearly 4,000 trees. Located in the heart of campus, the Commons Lawn creates a central open space that is an outdoor hub of activity throughout the year.

The campus also features impressive indoor spaces, including the Covenant Fine Arts Center, which serves as a hub for the arts, and features smaller performance spaces and also a beautiful 800-seat auditorium. The 362,000-square foot Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex provides state-of-the-art athletic facilities for students to enjoy, including an Olympic-size pool, 4,500-seat arena, a 10,000-square foot fitness center, a 40-foot-tall rock-climbing wall, and indoor track and tennis courts. The university also has impressive academic spaces, including ones that were designed intentionally to encourage collaboration across disciplines, like the new Design Hub, ISRx science lab, and the soon to be completed School of Business building.

Calvin’s seven residence halls are home to many undergraduate students in their first three years at the university, and the campus community has four on-campus dining options—including Peet’s Coffee shop, located on the main floor of Hekman Library, the largest private academic library in the state of Michigan.

The Calvin community values creation care and makes sustainability a priority—as an educational goal and an institutional commitment. On the northeast side of campus, Calvin’s 100-acre Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens not only supports valuable education and research, but also provides a one-of-a-kind oasis for both the Calvin community and the greater Grand Rapids community. The preserve features hundreds of native plants and natural habitats offering boundless opportunities.

The university’s recent campus master plan intends to steward the treasures of campus, from natural resources to human-made infrastructure.

Two students hangout downtown near the banks of the Grand River.

The Broader Community

As Calvin University promotes the healing of the world through Christ, we start right here in our city. Calvin is located just five miles east of downtown Grand Rapids—the second largest city in Michigan. For a city of its size, Grand Rapids is easy to get around and explore by bus, bike, or car. And it’s got a lot to offer. From world-class attractions and outdoor recreation to a vibrant arts and music scene, from eclectic eateries and coffee shops to a trio of semi- pro sports teams, it’s no wonder Expedia lists Grand Rapids as one of America’s Super Cool Cities.

Calvin’s proximity to the city also leads to great experiences for students, everything from internships with major employers like Gentex, Meijer, and Steelcase, to practicums at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Spectrum Health, and the Van Andel Research Institute on the Medical Mile. Calvin also has longstanding partnerships with dozens of nonprofits throughout the greater Grand Rapids area, and faculty and students work alongside these trusted partners in the pursuit of justice, vibrancy, and shalom for Grand Rapids neighbors.

The Reputation

Calvin’s teaching, scholarship, and service have been recognized widely. U.S. News and World Report ranks Calvin third among Midwest regional universities in the “Best Undergraduate Teaching” category. The faculty’s active scholarship is well known and has been frequently rewarded with major grants, while students too have received an impressive number of prestigious awards. Numerous students have received Fulbrights and, since 2008, 24 students have been selected to receive the prestigious Goldwater scholarship and another 15 were recognized as honorable mentions. Calvin has been selected three times by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to host its elite Beckman Scholars Program, and two of the students who were recognized by that program went on to receive the prestigious Hertz Fellowship as graduate students.

The Results

According to the university’s most recent outcomes report, 96% of graduates reported being professionally employed or in graduate school within nine months of graduation. While this number is a great indicator of career preparedness, the university takes a holistic approach in preparing its students. A strong liberal arts core, experiential learning opportunities, and the university’s one-of-a-kind Calvin LifeWork program complement a student’s coursework in their academic major to prepare them for life after Calvin. Calvin alumni—65,000 strong—serve as Christ’s agents of renewal around the globe and in every sphere. These men and women are sought after by Fortune 500 companies like Apple, General Motors, and Goldman Sachs, prominent nonprofits, and rising startups. Recent graduates are studying at renowned institutions including Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and Northwestern University.

Calvin’s educational framework develops qualities and characteristics that help students to flourish as graduates.

Calvin Prison Initiative  is one of six new new programs since 2019.

The Vision

In 2019, Calvin adopted Vision 2030, stating in part: By 2030, Calvin will become a Christian liberal arts university with an expanded global influence. We envision Calvin University as a trusted partner for learning across religious and cultural differences and throughout the academy, the church, and the world. Calvin University will be animated by a Reformed Christian faith that seeks understanding and promotes the welfare of the city and the healing of the world. We welcome all who are compelled by God’s work of renewal to join us in the formative pursuits of lifelong learning, teaching, scholarship, worship, and service. See this link for more detail on Vision 2030: calvin.edu/vision2030.

Calvin is leaning into this vision and meeting the needs of a changing environment by creating programs and pathways to serve both traditional undergraduate students and those seeking master’s level programming or interested in mastering a new skill.

Since becoming a university in 2019, Calvin has added six new in-person or online graduate programs, with four more set to begin between now and fall 2022. With these new programs, the university will offer a total of 13 online or in-person master’s programs, which more than quadruples the amount offered in less than three years’ time. One of the newly added graduate-level programs is an online MBA, which launched this fall, and in its first year attracted 22 students from six U.S. states and two countries. The university’s portfolio of graduate programs has seen 50% growth in total enrollment between fall 2020 and fall 2021.

Calvin partners with Ready For Life Academy to welcome students of varying levels of abilities, and the university has recently been able to expand this program to include credited courses and on-campus housing through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Perhaps the clearest picture of Calvin’s commitment to new learning communities is the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI), started in 2015 through a partnership with Calvin Theological Seminary and the Michigan Department of Corrections. Every year, CPI offers 20 Handlon Correctional Facility inmates—most of whom are serving life sentences— the opportunity to pursue a bachelor’s degree behind bars, reflecting Calvin’s convictions that education is intrinsically valuable and all people are made in the image of God. The first two cohorts of students have already graduated from the program, and the stories of transformation inside Handlon are inspiring

“Where I was once an agent of destruction who didn’t care about anyone but myself, now my education forms me as an agent of renewal.”
Michael Duthler, 2020 grad through Calvin Prison Initiative program

The undeniable joy of graduation.

Quick Facts on Calvin University


Enrollment FALL 2021

  • Total students: 3,256
    (2,838 undergraduate, 189 graduate, 229 nontraditional)
  • Gender ratio: 53% female, 47% male
  • Students hail from: 47 U.S. states, 49 countries, 4 Canadian provinces
  • Students from outside Michigan: 42%
  • U.S. ethnic minorities: 19%
  • International students: 12%

Admissions Stats CLASS OF 2025

  • Applications received from 3,988 for a class of 736 first-time degree seekers
  • Acceptance rate: 75%
  • 30% in top 10% of their high school graduating classes
  • GPA (middle 50%): 3.6-4.0
  • ACT (middle 50%): 24-30
  • SAT (middle 50%): 1130-1330

Tuition and Expenses

  • Tuition and fees: $38,240
  • Room and board: $10,800

Retention and Graduation Rates

  • 86% of first-year students return the following fall
  • 63% graduate within four years
  • 75% graduate within six years

Financial Aid

  • 98% of full-time degree-seeking undergraduates receive some form of financial aid
  • 60% receive need-based aid
  • More than $60 million in institutional aid awarded annually

Financial Stats

  • Annual operating budget is $100 million
  • Physical Plant valued at $200 million
  • Endowment is $225 million
  • Total assets equal $530 million
  • Total debt is $85 million
  • S&P credit rating: A-, with stable outlook

Inside the Classroom

  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
  • Full-time faculty: 183
  • Part-time faculty: 190
  • 94% of full-time faculty members are tenured or tenure-track
  • Average class size: 23
  • 100+ majors, minors, and pre-professional programs
  • 13 in-person or online graduate-level programs (by fall 2022)
  • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission

Outside the Classroom

  • More than 50 registered student organizations
  • More than 50% of undergrads take part in study abroad programs
  • 89.5% of students had at least one internship or practicum while at Calvin
  • 22 NCAA Division III varsity teams compete in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association
  • 11 NCAA Division III National Championships
  • Received the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement in 2020

Facilities and Grounds

  • 390 acres (including a 100-acre Ecosystem Preserve)
  • Nine academic/administrative buildings
  • Seven residence halls, Knollcrest East apartments, and four Project Neighborhood houses in Grand Rapids
  • 362,000-square foot indoor athletic and recreation facility, six outdoor athletic facilities
  • Largest private library in state of Michigan
  • Four distinct performance venues, including a beautiful 800-seat auditorium

Alumni

  • 65,000-plus living alumni in approximately 100 countries around the world

The Calvin University sign along Burton Street.

The Leadership Agenda

Through the listening sessions and survey responses that formed the basis for this search profile, engaged participants articulated a panoply of exciting opportunities for the new president and the Calvin community to seize. All higher education institutions also have challenges to meet, and Calvin is no exception. Respondents discussed those matters in a thoughtful and insightful manner. This section of the profile will acquaint the prospective presidential candidate with a clear sense of the leadership agenda that awaits the new leader of this special institution of higher learning.

Vision 2030

The Calvin University community came together to create a vision for the next decade, titled Vision 2030. The plan is updated on a regular basis to take account of the rapidly changing nature of Christian higher education and the fluidity that is prudent considering the marketplace Calvin faces. Vision 2030 and its dynamic nature affords the new president the chance to simultaneously build on the insights gained in the process and adapt to changing circumstances to ensure Calvin continues to exhibit superb academic excellence in Christian higher education. The vision process involved a prayerful reflection on the university’s future and has resulted in proclaiming a bold agenda.

New Liberal Arts Core

Grounded in a Reformed Christian perspective, Calvin’s recently revamped core curriculum is designed to equip students with knowledge, skills, and dispositions that prepare them to live out God’s call to promote the welfare of human communities (local, national, and global) and the natural world. Including courses in four categories—foundations, competencies and skills, knowledge and understanding, and cross-disciplinary integration—the newly approved core is now required of students across all of the university’s schools and disciplines. Successful implementation of the new core is an opportunity to further strengthen Calvin’s future as a liberal arts institution.

Enrollment

Enrollment growth is a major priority. All sectors of higher education are in a state of disruption, including small church-affiliated liberal arts institutions, and Calvin faces these general headwinds as well as some specific enrollment challenges. While this fall’s undergraduate enrollment is up 15% over last year and the institution’s incoming graduate enrollment shows a 50% uptick during that time, enrollment hurdles remain. In response, since 2020, Calvin has added six new in-person or online graduate programs, with four more set to begin between now and fall 2022. These steps, featuring graduate programs with a missional focus, form the basis for further forays into this market, and the new president will also have the opportunity to partner with new colleagues to assess the potential for new undergraduate programs that reflect Calvin’s ethos. As a result, the new president will lead a path in which the university pairs expense reductions that are more than the sum of their parts and have longer implementation timelines with strategic investments that meaningfully boost revenues and promote excellence.

Human Sexuality Report to the Christian Reformed Church Synod

Our society, the Christian Reformed Church, and Calvin University are all engaged in a dialogue about matters pertaining to human sexuality. In June 2022, the Synod, the governing body of the Christian Reformed Church, will take up a report from the Committee to Articulate a Foundation-laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality. Once the synod acts on the committee’s report, the new president, the Calvin board, and community will be well served by a careful and respectful conversation about the synod’s action that considers the perspectives of campus constituents and external stakeholders.

Inspiration

Due to the enrollment challenges mentioned above, which were exacerbated by the pandemic and other factors, Calvin took difficult steps and bid farewell to a number of faculty and staff who had served the university well. These actions, combined with the pandemic itself, have highlighted the need to boost morale and a sense of hope about the future. The new president will have the opportunity to provide inspiration and a sense of optimism that will help lift the spirits of a dedicated faculty and staff.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Calvin University has a rich history in seeking paths to becoming both a community that celebrates diversity and a community that strives to identify and eliminate barriers to equity and inclusion. Institutional strategies for achieving greater compositional diversity began in earnest in 1985 with The Comprehensive Plan for Integrating North American Ethnic Minority Persons and Their Interests Into Every Facet of Calvin’s Institutional Life. In 2004, the institution solidified its desire to become an anti-racist institution with the board and faculty approved From Every Nation – Revised Comprehensive Plan for Racial Justice, Reconciliation, and Cross-cultural Engagement at Calvin College institutional document. And, in 2019, the Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan was implemented as an inclusive excellence strategy for the university which expanded upon the goals and ideals of the From Every Nation document. The next president of the university will have a significant voice in the continued improvements of Calvin’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and will be a spokesperson for the added value of diversity in Christian higher education.

Fundraising

In 2020, Calvin achieved a record for fundraising. Nearly 19,000 donors invested over $64 million in the university. Along with gifts dedicated to scholarships and the Calvin Annual Fund, 2020 giving included $11 million to expand faculty’s ability to shape Reformed Christian thought leadership around the world. And Calvin’s largest gift ever—22.25 million—for a new School of Business will enable Calvin to achieve new levels of excellence in business education. This fundraising performance, which reflects steadily improving numbers, provides a platform for even greater success in the future. The new president, working with an accomplished advancement team, will have the chance to achieve even higher levels of performance.

The Global Campus

This exciting initiative makes a Calvin education accessible to learners from across the world and at every stage of life. From prison halls to corporate boardrooms, high schools to environments for learners with intellectual disabilities, Calvin pushes the boundaries of what a “classroom” can be. The Global Campus could provide the vehicle for even greater service to learners of all persuasions as well as strengthen the university’s efforts in contributing to the flourishing of Grand Rapids neighborhoods. See this link to learn more: calvin.edu/academics/global-campus.

Calvin University’s Sesquicentennial

The year 2026 will mark 150 years since Calvin’s founding. The sesquicentennial presents a remarkable opportunity for the Calvin community to celebrate the transformational effect the university has had on the men and women who have studied and lived at this place of Christian scholarship. The event will also provide the chance to honor the thousands of faculty, staff, benefactors, and volunteers who have contributed mightily to Calvin’s success. And it will provide another opportunity for the Calvin community to express gratitude to God for his steadfast faithfulness.

A Dedicated Group of Colleagues for the New President

In an effort to address the challenges and opportunities detailed in this section, Calvin is blessed with an extraordinarily dedicated faculty, staff, and board who are fiercely devoted to students. The president will become the leader of an exceptional leadership team, several of whom are relatively new to the university. The board is a remarkably engaged body that is student centered to an extraordinary degree. The chance to work with these new colleagues is a promising opportunity for the new president.

Students focusing on their work in the classroom.

Desired Attributes of Leadership

The next president of Calvin University will be a seasoned leader with a deep and vibrant Christian faith and practice, and a personal relationship with our triune God. This leader will be someone who embraces the Reformed tradition in higher education and the university’s important relationship with the Christian Reformed Church.

The president will be able to articulate Calvin University’s mission as a Christian, liberal arts university; as a distinctive educational place where faith and reason work together, academic excellence is expected, and student achievement is celebrated. It is expected that the successful candidate for this position will have established a record of exceptional strategic achievement and impact in past responsible leadership positions.

The multiple opportunities and challenges facing Calvin (as described earlier) call for presidential leadership that both honors what is and sees new possibilities, that can take intentional mitigated risk, that is both realistic yet hopeful, that values shared governance and clear decisions, and that addresses the future from the strong foundation of Calvin’s mission. The next president will be called to lead Calvin through a time of change and uncertainty for all of higher education—it is a complex leadership task, and it is assumed that candidates for this position may come from a variety of educational backgrounds and professional experiences. That said, all candidates will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of and a commitment to Calvin’s mission, Calvin’s diversity and inclusion values, the role of Christian higher education, academic excellence, strategic planning, and the particular academic cultural expectations that inform and shape leadership in the academy.

A terminal degree is preferred but not required.

Calvin Seminary Pond at dusk

Nominations and Applications

Appointment of the new president is expected on or about March 1, 2022, and the successful candidate will assume the presidency on or about July 1, 2022.

For fullest consideration, application materials should be received by January 4, 2022, at the latest. Early submission is welcome.

Candidates are encouraged to review this search profile, which contains detailed information about the university and the position. Calvin University welcomes the candidacies of anyone who shows considerable evidence or aptitude for the desired qualities of leadership detailed in this search profile regardless of gender or race. Leaders from fields other than higher education are encouraged to apply as well.

Applications must include a letter of interest that focuses on the areas of opportunity described earlier in the profile, a current CV/resume, and five professional references with email addresses and telephone numbers. References will not be contacted without the applicant’s authorization. Application materials, inquiries and nominations should be sent electronically (MS Word or PDF) to CalvinUnivPresident@agbsearch.com.

Inquiries and nominations are welcomed by

Dr. Loren J. Anderson,
Executive Search Consultant,
loren.anderson@agbsearch.com
(253) 223-3566

Mr. Frederick V. Moore,
Executive Search Consultant,
fred.moore@agbsearch.com
(712) 299-2544