In the fall 1994 edition of Spark, I wrote these words: “Since Calvin doesn’t hire revolving door leaders, it is all the more reason to consider the presidential search process crucial to the future of the college.”

Seventeen years later, the same statement is true.

Harold W. Dodds, president emeritus of Princeton University, noted the challenge ahead in his 1962 article “Choosing a College President”: “Informed trustees approach the task with some trepidation, even those with experience in finding new heads for their business enterprises. Members of corporation boards are accustomed to taking calculated risks, but not in calculating the risks to be run in the selection of a new academic president. Attractive candidates seem to be few in number, difficult to discover; and indices of future success—let alone past success—are hard to identify and even harder to evaluate.”

President Gaylen Byker announced his retirement from the presidency at Calvin College, effective after Commencement 2012. He will have served Calvin for 17 eventful years.

He joins William Spoelhof (25 years) and Anthony Diekema (20 years) to form a trio of leaders that has propelled Calvin to the forefront of Christian higher education.

Each had his own particular style and many gifts. Each was called to this good spot of earth and made a lasting impact on the nature and direction of the college.

I ask alumni and friends of Calvin for your prayers as the presidential search committee goes about its important work.

We’re approaching another major moment in the history of Calvin as we search for just our fourth leader in 62 years. May the call be clear for both candidate and college.

Read the presidential opportunity profile