The annual staff appreciation celebration featured the traditional mix of skits, video tributes and jokes. As the event was winding down, vice president for student life Shirley Hoogstra took the stage to read a tribute to her colleague of 18 years. It read, in part: “She has a special love for the student who was not a straight arrow. She cared deeply for the student who struggled. She believed they could overcome those struggles.”
Moments later, President Byker awarded Jane Hendriksma, Calvin’s longtime dean of students for judicial affairs, Calvin’s highest honor for a staff member: the William Spoelhof Lifetime Achievement Award. “You have handled difficult cases of discipline with a caring heart and with forthrightness,” Byker said. “I have been impressed by your careful attention to the student—even the most difficult ones.”
Hendriksma came to Calvin in 1994 from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she worked as the assistant director of student development. She served Calvin first as the dean of residence life and took on her current role as the dean of students for judicial affairs in 1999. Her job is to deal with Calvin students when they run athwart of the college handbook and other authorities. Student misbehavior—from academic dishonesty to vandalism to abuse of social media—is hers to adjudicate.
“I guess it’s most difficult when a student is belligerent or difficult—when a student denies what they’ve done—but, honestly, 99 percent of it is wonderful,” she said. “Our students learn from their mistakes.”
Hoogstra praised Hendriksma’s ability to blend toughness with compassion in her work with students. “She has to often give words that will cause pain in people’s lives but will ultimately do them good,” Hoogstra said. “Her integrity is impeccable.”
Hendriksma said that the students’ lives are a constant lesson to her: “It’s great to see God work in their lives, see them learn and grow,” she said. “It’s really meaningful work.”