The search for Calvin College’s next president has reached a crucial stage. The 16-member presidential search committee, chaired by Dave Vander Ploeg, has identified the most qualified candidates to succeed current President Gaylen Byker. The interviewing process for these candidates is under way.

The search committee has been asked to bring a recommendation for a new college president to the board of trustees by its February meeting. If approved, that candidate will be recommended to the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in June.

“We are delighted that so many qualified candidates representing a range of experiences have shown interest in serving at Calvin College,” said Vander Ploeg.

The search committee is comprised of representatives from the board of trustees, faculty, staff/administration, alumni, students and the Christian Reformed Church of North America. Nine Calvin alumni are represented on the committee, including Ken Erffmeyer ’86, Scott Greenway ’86, Stan Haan ’77, Mary Hulst ’91, Milt Kuyers ex’56, Ruth Palma ’99, Benita Samuel ’05, Terry Van Der Aa ’69 and Michelle Van Valkenburg Van Dyke ’85. Senior international relations major Kelly Larsen is expected to graduate in May 2012.

While the search committee is made up of 16 members, Vander Ploeg said that the group is merely a representation of the thousands of stakeholders in this process as evidenced by the more than 1,750 responses to the presidential search surveys that were completed by faculty, staff, trustees, students and alumni. The responses and feedback through those surveys helped to shape the opportunity profile, a document describing the qualifications, experience, characteristics, gifts and abilities desired in the next president of Calvin College.

“From the onset, a goal of the committee has been transparency. We have kept the Calvin community well informed, and we have deeply appreciated each person’s insight,” said Vander Ploeg. “The amount of feedback we have received throughout this process has proven invaluable.”

So have the prayers, said Vander Ploeg, who has received numerous e-mails from members of the Calvin community letting him know they are praying for the committee.

“It’s encouraging to know that people have been praying for us throughout this entire process,” said Vander Ploeg. “We have definitely felt the effects of those prayers, and we continue to ask for prayer moving forward.”

Byker announced his retirement last May and will officially leave office next summer. He has served for 16 years as Calvin’s president.

The next president of Calvin College, the tenth in its history, is expected to be in office for the beginning of the 2012–2013 academic year.