A Calvin College search committee has selected Sarah Visser as the college’s next vice president for student life. Visser currently serves as chair and assistant professor in the department of leadership and organizational psychology and as the program director of the master of arts in leadership at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. She will begin her tenure at Calvin College on July 1, 2015.
“There’s such a strong mission and legacy at Calvin, and I see my role as stewarding that well and continuing the idea of engaging not just the life of the mind, but the whole life of the person,” said Visser.
Visser, a 2001 graduate of Calvin College’s communication arts and sciences program, returns to her alma mater with a breadth of experience in Christian higher education. She holds a master of education in college student affairs from Azusa Pacific and was expected to complete her PhD in higher education from Claremont Graduate University this spring.
For the past 12 years, Visser has served in many leadership roles at Pomona College (Claremont, Calif.) and Azusa Pacific, spanning both the academic and student life divisions.
“I have experiences that allow me to see how both aspects (academic and student life) of higher education contribute to student learning. I’m excited to help the community understand that partnership a little better. The primary objective is student learning, student growth,” she said.
Visser remains committed to learning, with her primary area of research revolving around the organizational implications of diversity. For the past two years, she’s served as chair of the faculty diversity committee at Azusa Pacific. She is also committed to staying at the leading edge of her field, holding membership in several professional associations, including, among others, the International Leadership Association, Association for the Study of Higher Education and the National Association of College Personnel Administrators.
“In Sarah we have found a leader who embodies the academic and Christian mission of Calvin College,” said Calvin College president Michael Le Roy. “She is focused wholeheartedly on serving students well and committed to making Calvin a great place to learn and grow.”
Le Roy co-chaired the search committee with chemistry professor Doug Vander Griend. The 11-member committee consisted of members of the college’s faculty, administration, staff and students. The national search included more than 45 nominations and resulted in a diverse and qualified pool of 31 applicants representing 14 U.S. states and two countries.
The search process began back in September 2014, when longtime vice president for student life Shirley Hoogstra was tapped for a national role as the president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Cindy Kok, director of the Broene Counseling Center, has been serving as the interim vice president since Hoogstra’s departure and will return to lead Broene on July 1.