The idea was born in a late-summer gathering of Calvin’s News and Stories website team: a day in the life of Calvin as captured through the photos of students, faculty and staff. The committee that convened to handle the photo-stravaganza called the event “Calvin in 24.”

“Early in my career I collaborated on a similar project for a trucking company and liked the way it rallied the internal culture while providing an authentic window into the organization,” said Tim Ellens, Calvin’s new communications and marketing (C&M) director, who made the initial pitch for Calvin in 24. “My hope in dusting off this idea was that we could generate a unifying cultural experience while giving people an unposed look into our life on campus and around the globe.”

Calvin in 24 was scheduled for Oct. 6, 2010. For two months, the committee—composed of members of C&M; development; student life; student development and alumni, parent and community relations—wrestled with the logistics of the event: photo handling, categories, prizes and public relations. They e-mailed campus listservs and departments and students and faculty studying in Spain, France, China, Hungary, Honduras and Ghana. They posted signs and passed out postcards. Student videographer Mike Zaagman created special Calvin in 24 commercials.

“Pretty much every way we could get in touch with students, faculty and staff, we did,” said media relations manager Matt Kucinski, who worked on PR for the event. 

Calvin in 24 kicked off when Oct. 6 arrived in China, 12 hours before it happened in the States. The first photos that landed in the Picasa web gallery created for the event were from students studying in Japan and Hungary. As the day rolled on, the photos flowed in. “It was nonstop … and it was a lot of fun for me because I got to see the photos as they came in,” said Joy’l Ver Heul, C&M’s print and multimedia communications manager, who managed the online photo gallery. 

The photos kept coming until the submission deadline, midnight Oct. 8: students experimenting in labs, practicing tai chi in China, napping on Commons lawn, snacking on Pringles, swimming underwater in the pool—even re-enacting Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” on the climbing wall. There were 3,550 photos in all (not counting the 1,991 images one student compressed into a video of a day in Budapest).

“I think there was a nice balance of artistic and spur-of-the-moment type photos: things that were well composed and others that were great, based on their spontaneity,” Kucinski said. The prizes in the competition—a video camera, reserved tickets to The Rivalry and a night’s stay at the Prince among them—were awarded both by judging and by random drawing.

“The thing that was best about it for me is that there were so many students who wanted to participate—even apart from the photos that were taken,” said Calvin junior Elizabeth Vander Heide, who documented her day on her cell phone. “We were all taking pictures of each other.”